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Entertaining 'Kong: Skull Island' held back by tonal inconsistencies

Kong: Skull Island
3 out of 5 Stars
Director:
Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Writers: Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, Derek Connolly, John Gatins
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for brief strong language.
Recommended to: Those who like their monster movies a little silly and surprisingly violent

Synopsis: A group of scientists and soldiers make their way to a mysterious island in the Pacific where they find a giant gorilla called Kong.

Review: If you’ve watched any of the trailers for “Kong: Skull Island,” you’re probably aware that the film’s tone is somewhat inconstant as it pairs peril with comedy.

While I’d prefer a more serious meditation on the monster known as Kong, I understand the reasoning behind making “Kong: Skull Island” a little goofy. Certainly the 1933 version of “King Kong” comes across as being silly these days and Peter Jackson’s version from 2005 retained the “Golden Age of Cinema” feel. On the opposite side of the field is 1976’s “King Kong,” which went out of its way to be more serious and realistic. However, the change in tone didn’t make it a better film.

“Skull Island” tries to be a bit of both as it offers state-of-the-art effects and a script that refuses to take itself seriously. The resulting film is fairly idiotic, but amusing romp that occasionally cuts loose on the violence (enough so that there were numerous moments where the audience literally gasped) in the same sort of way that “Jurassic World” did. The difference here is that “Skull Island” does it more often.

I know at heart “Skull Island” is essentially a film about a giant gorilla and that by its very nature isn’t the sort of thing that begs to be taken seriously. However, what has made King Kong an enduring character is the way filmmakers have been able to connect audiences with the monster. Kong isn’t a creature we fear, he’s someone we root for. “Skull Island,” by nature of its impressive visual effects, makes that relationship all the easier. Unfortunately, the silliness gets in the way (or if you want to look at it from the opposite angle, the realistic effects and violence get in the way of the jokes).

I liked “Skull Island,” but the post-credit scene had me more excited than anything in the actual movie.


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