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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REVIEW – “GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY” (2014)

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“I AM GROOT” – ha!  It’s truly the perfect way to start a review of this fun fun movie!! I seriously wanted to just say this and leave it at that.. Because that’s how fun it is and no one wants to ruin this movie with a long boring synopsis and all …riiigghhtt??!!!  Well, okay, I will also mention Chris Pratt.. no..seriously, when did Chris Pratt get this hott??!! 😀   He’s always been the cute, funny guy in the back ground, but here he takes center-stage as “Peter Quill” aka “STARLORD” and he not only looks great at doing it as it’s clear they made him get in some amazing shape for this movie, but it’s like this role was truly meant for his type of comedic chops.  starlord

As with all comic book quasi-superhero movies like this one, there has to be a reason at the beginning of why/how everything becomes as it is and this one is no different.  We see a young Peter Quill being brought to his dying mothers bedside where she gives him a last gift before she passes. As he runs screaming, crying out of her room into a big grassy field, he stumbles & falls, a blinding light shines on him and POOF!!! you got it… he is taken away by a spaceship.  26 years later we see Quill as an intergalactic outlaw who attempts to go by the name “Starlord”.  He is part of a clan who call themselves ‘Ravagers’ and while on a paid mission to collect an ‘orb’ he runs into “Korath” (played nicely in a supporting comedic turn by Djimon Hounsou) who works for “Ronan” (another fav. actor of mine playing a bad guy *sigh* ~ Lee Pace :)) an evil Warlord who wants the orb to do what else..control the Galaxy, specifically the planet Xandar, where his arch enemies live & it’s ran by none other than “Nova Prime” (Glenn Close).

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Peter of course gets the orb, but not before he double crosses the very people who took him to this intergalactic wonderland, “Yondu Odonta” (played wonderfully by TWD’s Michael Rooker) who then does what all double-crossed outlaws do and puts a bounty on Peter’s head.  Now the fun starts as everyone starts hunting Peter including, the oh-so-green assassin who is actually working for Ronan, “Gamora” (Zoe Saldana), “Rocket” a genetically engineered hysterically funny, raccoon (voice of Bradley Cooper) & his partner “Groot” his walking & regenerating tree friend (voice of Vin Diesel). who only can say 3 words..annndd you already know what those are..”I am Groot” ~ in other words..hello huge payday for Vin Diesel for yes, uttering 3 words. ha!  Well to cut to the chase, in the land of all things comic books they all get caught..sent to a maximum security prison where they all start to of course, work together along with a new ‘friend’ “Drax” (pro-wrestler Dave Bautista) who really only just wants revenge on Ronan for killing his family.  All this comes together as they make an oh-so-fun escape and get to the town of ‘Knowhere’ so they can sell the orb to “The Collector” (Benicio del Toro).  But when they find out what the orb can really do and why Ronan wants it so badly..and what should really be done with it..well…what will the now-appointed “Guardians of the Galaxy” do??!!  Well, you will have to see the movie for that, because I don’t want to spoil all the fun here…really, YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS MOVIE.. as from moment one it’s truly one of the most humourous, action-packed, visually stunning, and just plain damn FUN Sci-Fi fantasy movies I’ve ever had the pleasure to see so you should too.  Oh and it wouldn’t be right if I  forgot to mention the freaking fantastic soundtrack to this movie!! From the open-sequence on you will be rocking in your seat and just plain laughing.. Who doesn’t want to do that during a movie and be totally entertained??!!  Well, if you are one of the few, then yeah..don’t see it..for everyone else.. go get your groove and laughs on I say!!!

Grade: B+

#peggyatthemovies

Grading Scale: A = Oscarworthy;  B = Above average~must see;  C = Average~should see;  D = Don’t waste your time or money;  F= Yeah, no, just don’t see it  (+ or – give it a bit up or down)