The new monster flick “Kong: Skull Island” is such a fun experience that you’ll be beating your chest with excitement after seeing it.
The oversized ape, who made his big-screen debut in 1933, is at the center of this energetic, thrilling experience, an impressively-cast action flick filled with colorful characters, exotic locations and even more exotic flora and fauna.
Set in 1973, Bill Randa (John Goodman, amazing as usual) and geologist Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins), from the secretive government organization called Monarch, are pressing a senator to authorize an investigation of a skull-shaped island in the South Pacific.
After hesitantly getting approval for the mission, with military support (Samuel L. Jackson’s Preston Packard leads the troops), Randa puts together a crew of scientists and special operatives, including Tom Hiddleston’s Captain James Conrad, a former SAS black ops operative with a knack for jungle warfare. Photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) rounds out the crew to chronicle the trip.
Of course, things don’t go according to plan. They never do in films like this. After the team forges through a horrific storm that always surrounds the island in helicopters, they soon come into contact with Kong, who is swatting the choppers out of the air, whittling down the massive cast to a more manageable number.
From there, it becomes a tense survival story. As the now-separated team tries to reach an extraction point on the island, they encounter monsters and dangers, not to mention a World War II pilot named Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly, stealing every scene) who got stranded on the island back in 1944 and is living with a tribe of indigenous people.
Kong is a force of nature on this island — a hero, a tragic figure and the top of the food chain. He’s all that’s stopping vicious lizard creatures from destroying everything there. Even going back to the original film, Kong has been a sympathetic character, and that continues here, with a soulful motion-capture performance from Terry Notary.
Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts — who previously helmed the 2013 indie film “The Kings of Summer” — does a superb job of building this world while managing multiple storylines in a film so dependent on visual effects.
What really makes “Kong: Skull Island” so successful is that there truly is a sense of wonder and suspense looming around every corner. The screenplay by Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein and Derek Connolly keeps things moving and, despite a deep cast, is able to offer nice character moments and bring a lot of levity to a tense, deadly adventure.
It helps to have a cast with some of the great character actors of our time in Goodman, Jackson and Reilly, coupled with acclaimed young stars including Hiddleston and Larson.
This film is part of a shared cinematic universe dubbed the “MonsterVerse,” which began with 2014’s “Godzilla.” Stick around after the credits for more information, and just take a wild guess as to what the sequel’s going to be.