Kong: Skull IslandKong: Skull Island
Year: 2017
Rating: PG-13
Length: 118 minutes / 1.97 hours

Given how incredibly groundbreaking the special effects in the original King Kong (1933) were, I can understand why they keep re-using this character. Of course, while King Kong (1976) was mislabeled as “original” in its advertising, the advancements in CGI made King Kong (2005) at least as visually stunning as its 1933 predecessor. Still, the story has remained the same: humans visit Skull Island, humans find Kong, humans bring Kong to New York, Kong climbs the tallest building, and humans kill Kong. Consequently, I didn’t have much of an expectation of Kong: Skull Island (2017), since I thought I knew what the plot would be.

I can honestly say that Kong: Skull Island is the best adaptation of this character since 1933. A few choices helped to create an original story that deviated from the norm. Sure, humans go to Skull Island to find Kong, but the other creatures they find there are as fantastical as the gigantic Kong, who appears to be larger than any other version I’ve seen of him. Aside from the beautiful and artistic cinematography accentuating the intense fight sequences between Kong and his foes (be they human or otherwise), the fact that the film is set in the time shortly after the Vietnam War gave it a vastly different feel than any of the other Kong films in the franchise.

Fortunately, the action was excellent. Additionally, the brief moments of levity interspersed throughout helped to keep the movie moving along at a good pace. I knew going into this film that it was part of a larger cinematic universe which includes Godzilla (2014), so while some characters and elements in Kong: Skull Island felt unused, I am sure they’ll become relevant when Godzilla vs. Kong (2020) rolls around. In fact, part of the reason I gave this film my attention was that its predecessor was incredibly entertaining. Of course, I didn’t know Kong: Skull Island was a prequel of sorts until the post-credits scene, but that just makes me want to see the next films in the franchise even more.

The best treatment of King Kong in over 80 years, I give Kong: Skull Island 4.5 stars out of 5.

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