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Kong: Skull Island Delivers a Monster of a Punch

From+Left+to+Right%3A+Mason+Weaver+%28Brie+Larson%29%2C+James+Conrad+%28Tom+Hiddleston%29+and+Preston+Packard+%28Samuel+L.+Jackson%29+in+Kong%3A+Skull+Island.+
From Left to Right: Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) in Kong: Skull Island.

From Left to Right: Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) in Kong: Skull Island.

From Left to Right: Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) in Kong: Skull Island.

Manuel Ramirez, Staff Reporter

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Set in the world of 2014’s Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island reintroduces us to an iconic monster, but where Godzilla took place in present time, Kong is set in the seventies. Following the end of the Vietnam War, a band of soldiers are called to accompany an expedition group to an uncharted island. Upon arrival they are met with open arms or in this case closed fists by Kong himself who doesn’t take a liking to guests bombing his home.

From here it’s a matter of survival for the group, among the non-military are James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) a former British soldier who serves as the group’s hunter/tracker, Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), a bold anti-war photojournalist, Bill Randa (John Goodman) who is in charge of the expedition, and Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) Randa’s  assistant and geologist. The military consists of Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) a war veteran hell-bent on bringing down Kong, Jack Chapman (Toby Kebbell), Packard’s right-hand man, Glenn Mills (Jason Mitchell) a nervous but loyal warrant officer, and Reg Slivko (Thomas Mann) the youngest of the platoon who provided some catchy tunes courtesy of his portable record player. While on Skull Island, they come across Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly) a World War II pilot who has been stranded for 28 years living among the island’s natives and warns them that Kong is the least of their worries.

I loved this movie from start to finish; the cast, action, atmosphere, environment, sense of urgency, thrills and of course Kong himself, brought to life by motion-capture actor Terry Notary whose previous performances include the Planet of the Apes prequel/reboot series. This is basically Apocalypse Now meets King Kong, hence the IMAX poster that pays tribute to the iconic war film. Samuel L. Jackson does what he does best on bringing his angry persona on-screen but by far John C. Reilly was my favorite character. To see a comedic actor not only provide the film’s laughs but has depth when we see his back-story and wield a sword against a flock of monsters, is an A+ in my book.  Even Kong has his quiet moments showing that there is more to him than meets the eye.

It surpasses 2014’s Godzilla, by not taking itself too seriously, makes better use of its actors by giving each their moment to shine, and more screen time of the titular monster. Even though its part of the MonsterVerse with more films on the way, it works well on being its own solo movie. (Take note of that Marvel) Be sure to stay after the end credits for a scene that had people in the theater screaming with joy. Bonus points for poking fun of the End Credits trope that’s constantly used by these Cinematic Universe movies. If I had any gripes, it would be that some of the violence leans a little too much in the R-Rated territory for a PG-13 movie, but even then its minimal.

Mindless, entertaining, and action-packed for all the good reasons, Kong: Skull Island is a trip worth taking.

Fun Fact: The movie reunites actors Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell who previously starred in Straight Out of Compton as Dr. Dre and Eazy-E.

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Kong: Skull Island Delivers a Monster of a Punch