This gorilla movie offers up  an excellent story  

As we enter the annual post-Oscars drought season of movies that are often deemed unworthy of awards consideration come December, theater expectations must be lowered accordingly. Lest viewers feel cheated on memorable acting performances and classic narratives destined to become part of our pop culture, films hitting the big-screen through summer pose as mere appetizers to bigger, more jarring movie experiences later in 2017. No cinema screening could usher or epitomize these waning months more than “Kong: Skull Island,” an over-hyped throwback with A-list actors caught in an average movie.

Erase the weak and convoluted first 24 minutes of “Kong: Skull Island” and we’re left with a satisfying beginning to the mediocre movie stretch of 2017. This gorilla story reboot takes us back to the introduction of King Kong, joining the original stop-motion great ape film from 1933 and its remakes in 1976 and 2005. 

“Kong: Skull Island” dramatically captures the discovery and dangers of a new island through its camera lens. It’s an eye-pleasing experience of special effects but gets watered down with a nuanced cast of forgettable characters and names. Seeing such a deep, rich talent pool, including Academy Award-winner Brie Larson (“Room”), get hamstrung by a bland script lacking any emotional tie with the audience is unfortunate.

Aside from the film’s spectacular cinematography and CGI realism, this film smartly brings two dozen expendable roles to keep the beast fed. I always tip my hat to storytellers who can sacrifice their lead performers mid-movie to impart shock upon the audience. If that character isn’t safe, no one is. In “Kong” we care little for any of the human hunters, but do wonder who will be left standing in the end?

The island faceoff between gorilla and man exposes more than just fiery personalities. Poor decisions resulting in even worse outcomes gets repeated enough times to almost incite laughter aloud. Alpha males demonstrate inept skills to their followers, each of whom elects to continue along the bad karma cycle of rinse and repeat. Thankfully, enough surprises emerge on the island to keep us guessing as to who will die next and how?

Post-Oscars doldrums pose a challenge to avid movie-goers. Expectations must be tempered and kept in check, replaced by the escapism from reality that theaters afford us. The time now is for thoughtless action, followed by reboots (“CHiPs,” “Baywatch”), comic book adventures (“Wonder Woman,” “Spider-Man”) and highly anticipated Star-Lord comedy (“Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2”). 

Until the Academy Award-worthy World War II true story of Operation Dynamo hits theaters as the film “Dunkirk” in July, we must sit-back and enjoy these types of popcorn movies.

Grade: C

“Kong: Skull Island” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for brief strong language. Its running time is one hour and 58 minutes.

(Patrick King is a resident of Tucson and writer for the REEL BRIEF movie blog at You may email him at

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