Kong: Skull Island ⭐⭐⭐

The latest reboot of the King Kong franchise is basically a remake of The Land that Time Forgot shot as Apocalypse Now (see the not so obvious hint in the poster below) but featuring the said giant gorilla instead of dinosaurs. For second-time director Jordan Vogt-Roberts whose debut was a micro-budgeted indie coming-of-age drama, this is an impressive calling card for Hollywood. A few rookie mistakes aside (choppy editing and minor continuity errors), he proves himself at ease and more than competent in the many action sequences, demonstrating both confident control and a good eye for big, extravagant special effects as well as a lighter and more creative touch with his use of everyday objects such as a Nixon bobblehead or an old camera flash to thrilling and rather gruesome effect. With a script that cuts to the chase pretty much straight away at the expense of characterization, there is no time for subtlety and nuance. It is further hindered by clunky dialogue that tries, unsuccessfully, to imbue some sort of honorable motivations to one-dimensional characters and a somewhat contrived third act that’s a rip-off of the finale in Jurassic World, though admittedly it is excellently executed. Tom Hiddleston (more eye-candy than understating hero) and Brie Larson (an updated Fey Wrey stand-in with an indestructible camera), normally great actors to watch, are both given little to do except to look pretty spouting expositions while running away from computer generated monsters. Together with the war movie clichés and the cynical criticism of shoot first talk later gunghoism, the latter mostly encapsulated in the double cheese and ham sandwich that is Samuel L. Jackson, what we have is a glorified B-movie with a big Hollywood budget for explosives and special effects; which to the film’s credit and the delight of the audience, they manage to make spectacular use of. Just don’t think too hard about the story…

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