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Movie Review: ‘Kong: Skull Island’ Boasts B-Movie Thrills

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Kong: Skull Island Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Kong: Skull Island is a monster of a movie! Read our movie review to get all the explosive action:

[dropcap]P[/dropcap]icture if you will a scene where a bearded John C. Reilly fights off pterodactyls with a Japanese sword. Now picture Samuel L. Jackson shooting a giant spider multiple times in the face with a pistol. Then picture King Kong slurping up the tentacles of a giant squid he just killed. These are the scenes that make Kong: Skull Island worthy of the B-movie, popcorn genre. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts realizes that these scenes are all ridiculous, but he also knew this is more or less what I came for in a King Kong movie.

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

‘Kong: Skull Island’ has the biggest King Kong yet.

It’s a giant monster movie for the seasoned veteran of giant monster movies, breezing through the familiar tropes to get to the titular ape as soon as possible. We’re quickly introduced to the humans of the early 1970s who discover the mysterious Skull Island and want to investigate.

There’s a team of scientists (John Goodman, Corey Hawkins) that hope to discover new resources on this island. There’s a seasoned explorer (Tom Hiddleston) hired to help guide the scientists through the uncharted territory. There’s a photojournalist (Brie Larson) along for the ride. And there’s the military called into aid in the expedition, led by a weary and bitter colonel (Samuel L. Jackson).

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson in ‘Kong: Skull Island.’

Not much character is given to any of them and most of their dialogue is forgettable filler. The initial dialogue between the soldiers that attempts to establish them as playful boys eager to return home is so inane and forgettable. They’d be better off painting targets on their backs as the inevitable fodder for an island full of monsters.

Thankfully, the movie knows we don’t care and barrels as fast as it can towards the reveal of Kong and all his glory. It isn’t too long into the movie before he starts smashing up helicopters, eating people and pounding his chest with a mighty roar. He doesn’t linger in the shadows or wait until nightfall for some grand reveals and he doesn’t need such an introduction.

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

King Kong is ready for action.

King Kong is one of the most famous movie monsters in cinema history and he’s been rebooted more than once in many movies. The goal of Skull Island seems to be delivering as much Kong as possible and it doesn’t disappoint. From the very first scene, we see Kong from every angle: extreme close-ups from the unlucky soldiers he smashes, medium close-ups as the helicopters zoom around him and even full body shots as he stands ready to defend his island. It’s usually not a good idea to show too much of a movie monster for risk of it looking too silly or unbelievable. But with current computer graphics making any fantastical creature a reality, the filmmakers are justified in spending so much time with Kong.

After Kong smashes up the helicopters of the expedition, justified in doing so after they bomb his land, the humans regroup to make it to the other side of the island for their escort. Naturally, they’ll be picked off over the course of their adventure by plenty of nasty monsters crawling all over the island. Most of the creatures are pretty fun on a grotesque level, from a giant stick bug that conceals itself as a log to a spider that hides among the trees before stabbing, slurping and snapping its prey.

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Kong isn’t alone on Skull Island.

There are many deaths throughout the picture and it’s hilarious how they vary in tone. A scientist will be picked up by pterodactyls and ripped to shreds in the sky. Most of the group brushes it off as there was nothing that could be done. Only one of them speaks up in a seemingly running gag for reacting to deaths-by-monster, questioning why nobody is going to talk about how horrific it was to watch something so gruesome. But what’s there to talk about? A monster murdered a man and many more will die in a manner either tragic or hilarious, as is customary of a giant monster movie. Such is the life on the island of monsters.

Related: Tom Hiddleston Reveals Loki’s Dark Thoughts about Doctor Strange

There isn’t much going on with the human characters or their arcs, even with the inclusion of John C. Reilly as a stranded pilot living on the island for decades. The real star of the picture is Kong and rightly so. Any scene featuring the giant ape is wonderfully shot with plenty of explosions to provide some great lighting. One of the best looking shots of the whole film features Kong roaring at the soldiers in the moonlight, the orange glow of the fires clashing beautifully with the blue night sky. The filmmakers are not only fearless enough to give us plenty of Kong, but also present him in the most spectacular moments of staging.

Read more to get the rest of the movie review for Kong: Skull Island:

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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Review: “Captain Marvel” is a Solidly Sensational Sci-Fi Adventure

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Captain Marvel joins the ranks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a much different way. She slides into the MCU via a twisty sci-fi adventure of the 1990s, before the Avengers were formed. And though the film does serve as a strong bridge picture that answers a few more questions about the Marvel universe, the film quickly becomes its own thing and gives its hero a real identity as the powerful addition to the superhero ensemble.

Brie Larson plays Carol Danvers, a woman not sure if she’s a human pilot of Earth or a soldier of the Kree empire’s Starforce. There’s little time to explore these conflicting visions she’s having when there’s special energy powers to control and a war being waged against the shape-shifting Skrull alien creatures. A detour to 1990s Earth gives her a bit of time to find out more while also hunting down some more Skrulls, leading to some interesting scenarios when combatting aliens that could look like old ladies.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) ..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

Carol’s landing on Earth leads to treading down familiar Marvel timeline territory as well as evoking plenty of dated 1990s bits. What started drawing me into the picture was how the film holds itself back from the obvious. The 1990s setting is used for some gags of video stores and Windows 95, sure, but never goes the extra mile of becoming an aggravating reference fest, keeping a certain vibe the way Guardians of the Galaxy embraced the 1970s and 1980s. And just like that film, there’s a nostalgic soundtrack to boot, with choice tracks for just the right cue.

Samuel L. Jackson pops up in the film as a younger Nick Fury with his two eyes still intact. He teams up with Carol in her intergalactic spy adventure and thankfully never goes to the booming lengths he was known for that decade. And the filmmakers could have easily made this younger Fury go full Die Hard 3 or Pulp Fiction but he never does, always keeping that cool persona he has been known for in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..L to R: Att-Lass (Algenis Perez Soto), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

But the one aspect that is never shunned and built up grandly is the aspect of female empowerment. Danvers is established as a woman who doesn’t have a clear identity or mindful nature of galactic politics and has to build herself up when she realizes she may be a very powerful pawn in a big game of intergalactic chess. Her memories are that of always being told to back off from non-traditional activities for girls and, sure enough, she rises up to become the smirking and energy-shooting hero when the final piece of her character puzzle is pieced together. It’s just unfortunate that the film spends so much time doing the building amid a twisty sci-fi spy story that Brie never gets a moment to shine as brightly as she could, despite a very enthusiastic third-act closer.

If we’re being blunt, no, Captain Marvel doesn’t quite have the same gravity to be a cultural milestone of a comic book movie. Where others have pointed to Black Panther as not the first the most insightful and cultural of black-led superhero movies, I doubt many will look towards Captain Marvel as the grandest of female-led comic book movies, making its motives known with the power and subtlety of a supernova. But, in terms of what the film is aiming towards, it doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone and that’s perhaps the point. I just wish that Captain Marvel’s astounding powers to destroy starships and aliens had a much bigger punch for a picture that wants to obliterate the glass ceiling and merely cuts a narrow hole within the MCU. It’s a nice hole, mind you, and still weaves a capable and compelling sci-fi adventure with a surprisingly more engaging finale than most Marvel solos.

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