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Movie Reviews & Ratings
Kong: Skull Island  : King Kong & Monster Wars
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Friday, March 10, 2017
Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Tom Hiddleston, James Conrad, Samuel L Jackson, Preston Packard, Brie Larson, Mason Weaver, John C. Reilly, Hank Marlow, John Goodman, Bill Randa

Does Beauty slay the Beast yet again? That was the punchline in the original versions of King Kong. But answering it would be a spoiler, so I’ll just say, yes, King Kong does get to hold “beauty” Brie Larson tenderly in his palm. And no, King Kong doesn’t go to New York or destroy the Empire State building this time.


What we do have is a backdrop of Vietnam polemics. So when photographer Mason Weaver joins a crew heading for an unrevealed mission to Skull Island in the South Pacific, she typically calls herself an ‘Anti-War Photographer’.


But winning a war, any war, is what’s on the mind of Colonel Packard who won’t go home after the ceasefire in Vietnam.


An assortment of such different minds including scientists and skilled army men with guns, rides impressively into the eye of a hurricane. Skull Island lies beyond, tranquil and beautiful in its seclusion. But ferocity rises in different forms from the subterranean and some like Colonel Packard think it’s their bounden duty on behalf of America to wipe the monsters off the face of the earth.


Mason Weaver and tracker Conrad are on the other team, so the face-off is on different levels. Man versus Man. Man versus King Kong and other creatures. King Kong himself versus dinosaur-like lizards to protect the terrified humans. Underneath it all, director Jordan Vogt-Roberts roots for peace and for Planet Earth in her splendorous diversity which is sweet but not such a unique message after all.


In a 2017 reprisal of the King Kong myth, the special effects budget had to be as gargantuan as the creatures they create. There’s a veritable rogues’ gallery of vicious creatures with King Kong even eating up a giant octopus like he’s having spaghetti for dinner. So visually, there’s plenty. And there are enough known actors like Tom Hiddleston as Conrad, Samuel Jackson as Packard and Oscar-winner Brie Larson as Mason Weaver, to keep the adventure going. 


But I have to say one major disappointment is that there’s such an onslaught of monsters that it gets a bit tiresome, leading to a disconnect with the many humans who are gobbled up. And there are overt attempts at playing on your sentiments through ‘Dear Billy’ notes that one such gobbled up human leaves behind for his son. 


For a well-shot film that follows a template which doesn’t necessarily ensure sustained attachment to what’s going on, Kong: Skull Island gets a 3* rating.   


Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author


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