Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island ★★★

Jordan Vogt-Roberts's update of the story of King Kong brings it squarely into the future: the Vietnam-saturated 1970's. With a screenplay by Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, and Derek Connolly, Kong: Skull Island tracks a huge group of scientists (John Goodman, Corey Hawkins), soldiers (Samuel L. Jackson, Jason Mitchell), and miscellaneous attachés (Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston). These adventurers brave a perma-hurricane to invade the titular island and pursue the also-titular monstrous primate. The screenplay is feeble, doing a disservice to pretty much every character (par for the course when your core cast includes 15 characters vying for relevance to the plot), except Kong himself (performed by Terry Notary and Toby Kebbell via performance capture). I guess that for the most part, viewers don't attend action spectacles like Kong: Skull Island for the character development, and on that score, Vogt-Roberts and the special effects team do an excellent job creating some cool visual moments for the film.

The set-pieces are well-realized, particularly the sequence in the - for lack of a better phrase - "elephant graveyard." But I really can't go gaga for the movie on those scenes alone. Despite the picture's open dispensability, the weaknesses of the plot mechanics can frustrate, and the deafeningly noisy metaphor for the United States's actions in Vietnam can be silly, even when it's not intended to be. Kong: Skull Island was fun to watch, I won't deny that, but I left feeling just a little empty.

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