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Just as the superhero film has made a major resurgence, the monster movie has become popular once more. Kong: Skull Island is hardly a perfect film, but it does a lot of things right that elevate it from many genre cliches. Unlike the highly disappointing Godzilla, Skull Island doesn’t take the material too seriously, yet doesn’t sacrifice any character depth for it’s tone. Even if the character arcs are simplistic, there’s a likability to the characters that give us a reason to invest within the sweeping adventure.

Bill Randa (John Goodman) is a government agent obsessed with the exploring a mysterious “Skull Island” within the middle of the Ocean. Recruiting a group of experts, including tracker James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Laron), geologist Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins), and General Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) to map the island, and discover Kong, a monstrous ape the size of a building.

John Goodman and Samuel L. Jackson are veteran character actors, and their eccentric personalities add humor and gravitas to the film. While there’s not quite enough character development given to Tom Hiddleston or Brie Larsons’ characters, they do a good job with what they’re given. The addition of John C. Reilly adds some great comedy to the film, and the entire cast works well as an ensemble.

At two hours, the film is evenly paced, and Kong is given his fair share of screen time, while not descending into endless, mindless action sequences. The action is spaced out, and a decent mix of humor and slower moments are mixed in naturally. There’s some weaker dialogue for sure, but the overall tone set up by the film is one that works, showing that a grim take on a film like this is not always the right way to go. Grade: B

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