Kong: Skull Island ★★½

I know Gareth Edwards' Godzilla (2014) disappointed some, but I thought it was an impressive film that succeeded in one crucial aim: it made me believe in a skyscraper-sized bipedal lizard. The fact Godzilla was kept hidden from full view, for a very long time, and then mostly only seen in the dark, was an understandable gripe. I just didn’t care too much, because the creature’s presence was always felt and anticipation is often more pleasurable than audiences are willing to admit. Existing in the so-called “MonsterVerse” (groan), Legendary Pictures have now reimagined King Kong to also work as a precursor to Adam Wingard’s gestating Godzilla vs. Kong.

Both Kong and Godzilla are world-famous characters that began life in esteemed classics (1933’s King Kong and 1954’s Godzilla), but the movie industry has already plundered their cachet with sequels, spin-offs, remakes, and crossovers. So it felt like fair game when Kong: Skull Island was announced a few years ago, despite knowing it exists merely to provide two-hours worth of monster fights. And they happen mostly in broad daylight, almost from the start, as if to counter the criticism of Godzilla 2014.

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