Movie Review: Kong is still king in ho-hum Skull Island
Kong: Skull Island is the second film in Warner Bros/Legendary Entertainment's "monsterverse", where humans are up against iconic giant monsters.
The first of the series was 2014's Godzilla, and the next instalment is teased in Kong's post-credit scene.
This reboot of cinema's most beloved - and maligned - ape is a mixed bag of genre tropes, with nods to Apocalypse Now (1979), Jurassic World (2015) and of course, the classic 1933 King Kong flick.
The first act of the story moves quickly.
Goodman's explorer-businessman character Bill Randa convinces the US government to let him have one last expedition.
Then we see the team being formed - there's Hiddleston's hunky jungle tracker Conrad; Larson's gung ho photojournalist Weaver; Jackson's Vietnam War vet Packard and his team of soldiers.
Everything looks promising, until they get to the island.
That's when they are quickly split into three distinct groups - those whose basic function is to fill body bags, those whose sole purpose is to look good and stand around striking heroic poses, and then there's Jackson and his crazy eyes.
However, the humans here are mere calefare, particularly China's rising starlet Jing Tian, last seen in The Great Wall. Reilly, as stranded WWII fighter pilot Marlow, is the star among the humans.
The real heroes here are the creatures, from Kong himself and a giant octopus to pteranodon-like monsters and albino-ish lizard things.
The visual effects guys at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) are indeed wizards.
Kong, in particular, is impressive, emotive and real.
The fights between Kong and his foes are epic and exciting - enough to make this creature feature just that little bit more special.
STARRING: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, John Goodman, Toby Kebbell, Jing Tian
DIRECTOR: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
THE SKINNY: In 1973, just as the Vietnam War is winding down, a group of explorers head for an uncharted South Pacific island only to meet the wrath of Kong and other frightful creatures.
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