Monday, March 13, 2017
In Theaters: KONG: SKULL ISLAND (2017)
(US/China - 2017)
Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts. Written by Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein and Derek Connolly. Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, Terry Notary, Toby Kebbell, Jing Tian, John Ortiz, Shea Whigham, Richard Jenkins, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Thomas Mann, Eugene Cordero, Mark Evan Jackson, Will Brittain, Miyavi, Robert Taylor. (PG-13, 118 mins)
Not a follow-up to Peter Jackson's 2005 version of KING KONG, but instead the second installment of Warner/Legendary's "MonsterVerse" franchise after 2014's GODZILLA, KONG: SKULL ISLAND delivers the monster mega-throwdown that audiences want, but is lacking almost everywhere else. It follows the JURASSIC WORLD template right down to hiring one of that film's writers (Derek Connolly) and handing directing chores to a relative newcomer with zero genre experience in Jordan Vogt-Roberts. Vogt-Roberts gives you what you want with huge CGI monster mayhem, but gets tripped up in the rest, which amounts to little more than a tribute to APOCALYPSE NOW. Set in 1973 at the end of the Vietnam War for no discernible reason other than kitschy production design and a classic rock soundtrack, KONG opens with Bill Randa (John Goodman), the head of a secret government outfit known as Monarch, requesting that he and seismologist Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) get a military escort to the uncharted "Skull Island" in the South Pacific for mapping purposes. Assigned to accompany Randa and Brooks is a helicopter squadron led by hardass warrior Col. Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), with Randa bringing along high-priced mercenary tracker James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and anti-war photojournalist Mason Weaver (Brie Larson). Monarch isn't there to map an island, as everyone soon finds out when a giant ape starts swatting choppers out of the sky. Survivors are scattered into three groups--one with Conrad, Weaver, biologist San (Jing Tian),and some soldiers, another with Packard, Randa and a few other soldiers, and a third consisting of soldier Chapman (Toby Kebbell), who's left on his own.