Monday, February 19, 2018

Movie with Abe: Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island
Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Released March 10, 2017

Not all movies are created equally. Many films are considered failures because they try to be something that they’re not and don’t meet expectations. A monster movie is never going to win Best Picture at the Oscars, and therefore the secret to success is a film knowing what it wants to be and aiming to be exactly that. This franchise reboot, which is only on this reviewer’s radar because of the Oscar nomination it received for Best Visual Effects, is very good at just that: being a mindless monster movie and nothing more.

In 1973, Bill Randa (John Goodman) uses the considerable resources his government organization Monarch has to enlist British military veteran James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and American Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) to head to the mysterious Skull Island. Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), who describes herself as an anti-war photographer, joins them to capture what she sees, which turns out to be an incredible array of enormous animals, some of which are friendly but most of which see the human arrival as an invasion against which they have to defend, including what one stranded lieutenant (John C. Reilly) who has been on the island for decades describes as the king of the island, better known as Kong.

There is a lot of talent here that one wouldn’t normally expect to star in a film like this. Recent Oscar winner Brie Larson is the most glaring example, though her role is also amplified beyond that of just a throwaway character all but guaranteed to die a violent death under Kong’s giant foot or at the hands of some other creature. Hiddleston expands beyond his Marvel enterprise to anchor a new franchise, and Jackson and Goodman are both veterans who are clearly just having fun here. A handful of supporting players, including Corey Hawkins from “24: Legacy,” Jason Mitchell from “Mudbound,” and Shea Whigham from just about everything these days, contribute as needed as those likely doomed to forgettable fates.

I remember seeing a moving poster for this film at bus stops around New York City a year ago and thinking how incredible the visuals looked, and it’s true that the effects are hard at work creating so many different monsters and mesmerizing creatures to astound and destroy the human explorers. Apparently this film is part of an epic series also involving Godzilla, set to culminate in a film that has the two giant monsters facing off against each other. That might appeal to some, but this truly is mindless entertainment at its best, just as easily avoidable because it’s marketed to be just what it is.


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