REVIEW: “KONG: SKULL ISLAND” (2017) WARNER BROS.

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**IMPORTANT NOTE: Stay for the credits — You won’t regret it!

Is it just me or does it just seem like writers might be a bit bored these past few years and are perhaps running out of ideas? Hasn’t this been done already and then done again? Or did the box office success of movies like Jurassic World inspire studios & producers to opt for remakes instead of the road not taken. Well I don’t have the answer to all those questions BUT…I didn’t hate this remake in all it’s CGI super-glory.

To be clear – Kong: Skull Island is not simply a remake of a film that has been re-made time and time again. It is kind of what you could refer to as an ‘re-imagination’ of the original. If you ever lost sleep at night wondering what it would have been like if King Kong was not sedated and taken to New York to be pointed and laughed at and swatted away little planes with a Faye Wray or Jessica Lange or hey..even Naomi Watts, in his possession. Well fret no more, as that is exactly what this film explores.

The premise here is it’s 1973 this time and a group of eager-beaver scientists discovers what they thought was an uninhabited island a LandSat (land mapping satellite) has taken pictures of. An elusive island called – you guessed it – Skull Island, that although rumoured to exist it’s never been proven to…until now. Bill Randa (John Goodman) and Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) are eager to be the first to explore and geologically map the island, so they persuade the US government to back the expedition by supplying them with the support and expertise of some US Army soldiers under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) and his team, Chapman (Toby Kebbell), Mills (Jason Mitchell), Cole (Shea Whigham), Slivko (Thomas Mann), to name a few of the supporting crew, who are conveniently just leaving Vietnam and can stop on over. They also pick up a British ex-special forces “tracker” James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) a former British Special Air Service Captain and an “anti-war” photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson).

They start the mission by dropping bombs on the island to map the bedrock, ostensibly to look for mineral deposits. That’s when Kong shows up to smack the helicopters out of the air, and generally wreak mayhem on the team. The scattered survivors then have to survive on an island filled with oh-so-many-monsters and have to try get to the extraction zone. One group finds Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly), who brings a well-done dose of humour to the production and who has been stranded on the island for 29+ years with all the non-speaking island natives where KONG is ‘god’ and most definitely King of this island.

And that’s about all I’ll say about the story, so as to avoid serious spoilers. The story line is fairly conventional with very little arc to the characters except just as in the past, you ARE cheering once again for KONG. In many regards it actually sets up more like a horror movie than action/adventure movie. In fact, there are numerous jump-scares and other basic horror movie devices throughout the movie. Sorta of reminded me of the old school Godzilla vs. whomever monster films and while KONG might be the main guy, he is definitely not the only monster in town here.

In some ways, it felt like the movie couldn’t quite decide what it wanted to be between a monster movie and a horror movie… Or was it an action movie with an anti-war theme? It’s a toss up. There are also numerous characters who seem like they were intended to play more significant roles but then don’t. For instance they bring along a biologist, San (Tian Jing), who does no absolutely no biology (or good acting) at all and seems to mainly appear to allow another character to give a statement of sorts. Similarly most of the LandSat team seem to be around for comic relief, even if it is just horror movie style comic relief. Even some of the major characters do little aside from provide a single plot piece and I’m sure you can already guess, no one is going to be winning any awards for acting from being in this pic.

As for KONG himself, I think they could have spent a bit more time developing him, partly as a character as again, his name is in the film’s title after all. The CGI was quite good not only for KONG himself, but his fellow monster buddies as well.

I think there might have had just too much going on, and not enough time for this movie to be really good. As it is, it’s an entertaining enough of a movie that is fun, if you go in with a somewhat low-bar intention, so I enjoyed it completely on that level alone.

Grade: C+
@pegsatthemovies

Media Review Screening: Tuesday, March 7, 2017 ~ Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
NATIONWIDE RELEASE: Friday, March 10, 2017

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DAY 3 ~ COUNTDOWN TO THE OSCARS ~ “BEST DIRECTOR”

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DAY 3 of my Countdown to the Oscars and it’s BEST DIRECTOR time. A tough one for me as Tom Ford/Nocturnal Animals would have been my pick here – but sadly, not nominated. So here we are with my thoughts of who the winner will be, and usually I would have my pick for whom I might like it to be, but I just don’t really have a personal frontrunner here.

DIRECTING

Arrival, Denis Villeneuve
While I thought this movie was one of the best Sci-Fi films I’d seen in sometime, there were points where it lagged so slowly and could easily have been cut by a good 20 minutes if not more.

Hacksaw Ridge, Mel Gibson
I decided not to go with Hacksaw Ridge, and not because of anything to do with Mel Gibson’s personal problems — though while never forgiven or forgotten, I do think he’s a different person now and a very talented director and I wish him well. For me it was more the cheesy-ness of the first 45-minutes of this picture and the bad accents.

La La Land, Damien ChazelleWINNER
While again, this wasn’t my favourite movie – to much sappy for me, but I so loved what he did with Whiplash and how he should have won for that, that it was forgivable. Plus he’s probably going to win.

Manchester by the Sea, Kenneth Lonergan
While I found this film in and of itself to be rather plodding, Lonergan did make everything click together finally at the end, though slowly..veerry slowly.

Moonlight, Barry Jenkins
It wasn’t my favourite film of the year as I just felt like I’d seen this story before and done better on The Wire. While Jenkins did a really good job on a shoestring budget, the movie’s three parts aren’t as connected as they could have been.

@pegsatthemovies
Thanks all for taking the time to give this a read. Let me know your thoughts on if you agree or disagree with my picks. Don’t forget to give this page a follow or a follow on twitter as well @pegsatthemovies. Cheers!

DAY 2 ~ COUNTDOWN TO THE OSCARS ~ “BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR”

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Day 2 of the countdown ~ Probably for me at least, the hardest category to judge as it’s just filled to the brim of fantastic performances and I wish they could all win. And remember, this is a category known for going to the most random of choices.
Reminder: I’m giving who I think the winner will be and what would be my pick.

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Mahershala Ali, MoonlightWINNER
While I wasn’t the films biggest fan, if I had to pick a part that I liked, it was the first segment with this guy in it. But I don’t think his character was that developed — I mean, he’s this great guy, and then all of a sudden he just disappears. I missed the grit of his character throughout the rest of the film.

Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
While I might not have seen awards coming for this movie, Bridges came through on this performance in a big way. Jeff makes it look easy but, boy, what he does is not easy.

Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
If I was going to pick a performance from this film that I truly liked, it was Hedges. Although he was good here played his characters strengths and weaknesses well, it just misses being at the level of great…barely though. Keep an eye on this kid, he will be back in award categories to come.

Dev Patel, Lion
Again, we have a strong contender here. While playing an almost separate character from his child-self, it was quite seamless how he brought it all together at the end.

Michael Shannon, Nocturnal AnimalsMY PICK
Another truly mind-blowing performance by Shannon. Why this man doesn’t already have an Oscar on his shelf is just not comprehendable.

Thanks all for taking the time to give this a read. Let me know your thoughts on if you agree or disagree with my picks. Don’t forget to give this blog a follow or a follow on twitter as well @pegsatthemovies. Cheers!

REVIEW: “FANTASTIC FOUR” (2015) 20th Century Fox

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With so many superhero/comic books films coming out over past decade at this point you really need to ‘dress to impress’ if you’re going to put one out there. With this being a well known fact – the question looming on most everyone’s mind regarding this film:
‘Is Fantastic Four..well..Fantastic?’
With only a few ups and many downs, the answer sadly is no. How you ask can this happen? Well oddly enough it’s the sheer lack of an exciting story.

We open on brilliant child scientist Reed Richards, (Miles Teller) who is on the verge of discovering how to both transport matter to another dimension and then bring it back though they don’t know where it goes or comes back from. Jump to a few years later at his high school science fair and he and the project while being dis-qualified from the fair are being recruited by Professor Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey).
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With this Reed is given the resources and help by Storm’s children, the brother & sister team of Sue Storm (Kate Mara) and Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) along with Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell), to finish what he started all those years ago in his garage. When they finally crack inter-dimensional travel, Reed invites his childhood friend Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) to travel to the other dimension/world along with him and the team. An accident causes their physical form to drastically change. Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben must learn to harness and use their powers and work as a team to stop Von Doom who is now hell bent on destroying Earth.
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You would think this could all be exciting right? Well it’s actually a rather dull and plodding affair which was surprising as with most of the cast here notably Teller, Jordan, Bell and especially Toby Kebbell are all actors who have had some damned notable roles in their perspective careers.
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While I could have used more Von Doom, it probably still wouldn’t have saved this lifeless movie as the whole storyline is just weak with a finale that will impress no one. I expected so much more.

Grade: D+
@pegsatthemovies

Screening: Wednesday, August 5, 2015 courtesy of 20th Century Fox
Opens Nationwide: Friday, August 7, 2015