March 12, 2017 -- Movie studios have been trying to recapture the magic of the original King Kong (1933) movie with spotty success. Probably the best sequel I've seen up until now was “Mighty Joe Young” (1949) which was much lighter in tone. This new Kong is about as good as that, and better than Kong sequels and remakes I've seen in the past 40 years or so. It has interesting characters and great special effects (the big ape is portrayed through motion capture of actor Jack Chapman) with a good 3D conversion to boot.
The acting is solid in this film with Academy Award winner Brie Larson (“Room”) playing plucky war photographer Mason Weaver and Tom Hiddleston of the “Thor” series playing expert tracker James Conrad. The ubiquitous Samuel L. Jackson plays Colonel Preston Packard, a Vietnam War Veteran (the film is set near the end of the Vietnam War) commanding soldiers on previously unexplored Skull Island who are charged with protecting what is supposed to be a geological mapping expedition.
The film opens with a scene from World War II, as two pilots, American and a Japanese, parachute onto Skull Island, where they try to kill each other before witnessing something fantastic. Then we flash forward to the 1970s to see an expedition getting ready for the journey to mysterious Skull Island.
Trouble starts immediately as the helicopters fly to the island, and are soon destroyed by the mighty Kong. Foolishly, all the pilots decide to fly their copters nice and low, allowing Kong to knock them out of the air. The story then becomes a long slog through the jungle and swamps by survivors trying to make it back to the rendezvous site. While everyone else just wants to get out, Colonel Packard, angered over Kong killing his men decides his top priority is revenge. You could say he has lost perspective.
Some of the survivors find natives on the island and learn that Kong is actually the one thing protecting them from various other giant creatures on the island, sort of like extra nasty dinosaurs, who are the real threat. Survivors also run across a giant water buffalo and a giant spider and some dangerous flying creatures. A number of survivors are picked off by deadly creatures.
The science in this science fiction movie is unbelievable. The story itself, aside from the science, isn't all that believable, either, but the visual effects, the characters, the dialog and the acting are solid. There is also plenty of action and the pace is fast. This is basically a popcorn movie with some humor in it. It isn't meant to be taken seriously. With all the craziness going on in this country these days, a big, goofy action movie like this really hits the spot. This film rates a B.
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