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Kong: Skull Island (8/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 118 minutes.

OK for children.

Highlighted by terrific photography and award-quality special effects, this is another iteration in the Kong genre. This time a group of soldiers and scientists explore a hitherto unknown island filled with prehistoric creatures that has been hidden from discovery by storms that constantly hide it.

An all-star cast including Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John Goodman, and John C. Reilly fly through the storms and land on the island. There they meet an assortment of prehistoric creatures, only one of whom is Kong, an enormous ape who, predictably, eventually falls for the beautiful Ms. Larson who can fit in the palm of his hand (and does, since this is the iconic scene that binds all of these films together).

In between is a typical story of the gang trying to survive on the island for three days and get across it to the agreed rendezvous. They have to traverse a jungle full of danger, and deal with disagreements among themselves, mainly an unreasonable military officer Preston Packard (Jackson).

Hiddleston is rapidly becoming one of my more favored actors. After what I considered a subpar performance as Hank Williams in I Saw the Light (2015), he has been exceptional in everything else in which Iíve seen him, especially TVís The Night Manager (2016). He also played F. Scott Fitzgerald in Woody Allenís hit, Midnight in Paris (2011).

Well directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts (only his second film), the special effects (Tom Peitzman), production design (Stefan Dechant), and cinematography (Larry Fong) alone are worth the price of admission, buttressed by the symphonic score (Henry Jackman) that greatly enhances the action. And they should be since the estimated cost of production is around $185 million. Final kudos should go to the editor. Iím constantly carping about films needing good editing. This one got it, thanks to Richard Pearson.