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Movie Review

There are places in the world modern man has never truly explored. Places where myth and science meet. Topographic points shrouded in mystery and mayhem that are nothing less than the home of monsters.

Now, in 1973, few people accept this truth. But Bill Randa embraces it. This intrepid explorer has, in fact, come right to the deadly edge of that truth. He's seen the torn-up ships and demolished aircraft it has wrought. And he's certain that Skull Island—a floating rocky mass perpetually surrounded and isolated by violent storms, dense fog and raging seas—is a home to something … monstrous.

Of course, he can't just come right out and tell anybody that. He has to be more … subtle. And so after years of persuasion, Bill finally convinces a somewhat friendly senator to get the American government to finance an expedition to a certain mysterious isle in the Pacific.

As far as government scientists and soldiers of the heavily armed helicopter support group are concerned, the mission is all about geographical research. They believe they'll be locating and snatching up vital minerals and resources before some other world power does. But Bill couldn't care less about any of that.

When the soldiers drop their seismic charges, Bill is hoping for a single outcome: That something hidden away from the world's sight will finally raise its head.

Something big. Something incredible.

Bill Randa gets more than he bargained for.

In a handful of minutes, all thirteen helicopters in their support group are crushed, broken and thrown to the ground. Dozens of men die. And any hope of getting off this inscrutable island alive goes up in smoke.

For up out of the lush jungle rumbles a massive beast that's a hundred feet tall. A creature that roars with the sound of a dozen whirlwinds and smashes everything its path with the impact of a 10-ton bomb.

Out of that dense jungle comes a gigantic ape known to the natives as Kong, the king of Skull Island.

Positive Elements

Amid quite a lot of deception and secret agendas, there are some caring folks in the group who land on Skull Island. Mason Weaver is a female anti-war photojournalist who comes along for the purpose of recording any missteps by the U.S. government officials. But she ultimately puts her life on the line to help other civilians in the party find a way home. Former SIS agent James Conrad, meanwhile, is hired by Bill Randa for his tracking experience; he too puts everything on the line for the survivors.

One soldier sacrifices his life to protect his comrades, though his efforts don't have much effect. Two veteran WWII combatants from different sides of that conflict put aside their differences for the sake of mutual survival and become close friends. A pilot, missing for 28 years, tearfully reunites with family members.

Spiritual Content

Kong is described as a "god" by the natives of Skull Island. While holding the dog tags of his fallen soldiers, Lt. Colonel Preston Packard declares, "I swear to God that these men will not die in vain."

Sexual Content

Women in a Saigon bar wear revealing attire. Mason wears a form-fitting tank top.

Violent Content

In a prologue to the movie's action, we see two WWII pilots—one American, one Japanese—in a knock-down, drag-out battle involving guns, blades and fists. From there, though, the thumping action is on a much larger scale.

Kong demolishes a squadron of helicopters, crushing and tearing apart the aircraft and their occupants. We see men crushed under the outsized ape's feet, thrown up against mountainsides, consumed in blazing explosions and tossed into Kong's mouth.

A gigantic, lizard-like creature takes physical destruction up a notch further, gobbling up soldiers and civilians, chomping into its unfortunate victims with rows of huge, razor-sharp teeth. (In one case, we see the partially digested remains of a man that are vomited up on the ground.) A man grabbed by enormous bat-like avians tug him in various directions until he's dismembered. An enormous spider drives its huge leg into a man's mouth and down through his body.

Meanwhile, Kong and the island's other monstrous inhabitants also rip and tear at one another in extended, environment-demolishing battles. Kong struggles with an enormous octopus, for instance, before ripping its body apart and swallowing some still-wriggling tentacles.

The soldiers use everything from high-caliber weapons to toxic gas to napalm to battle Kong and the other colossal inhabitants of Skull Island. Blood and bodily gore splash freely throughout.

Crude or Profane Language

There's one f-word and an unfinished pairing of that profanity with "mother." God's name is paired with "d--n" once. About half a dozen s-words and 10 uses of "h---" join one or two instances each of "b--ch," "b--tard," "a--" and "d--n." A crude reference is made to male genitalia.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Several characters drink shots of alcohol and beer. In a Saigon bar, people drink and smok pipes.

Other Negative Elements

Lt. Colonel Packard is driven nearly mad by the fact that he was refused victory in Vietnam and is now battling against an almost impossible-to-kill monster.

Conclusion

"Twas beauty that killed the beast!"

OK, well, not so much here. In fact, Kong and actress Brie Larson don't even get that much screen time together. The big hairy ape doesn't make his way to New York City or scale a famous skyscraper. There's not really even all that much of a story in his tale.

That said, the narrative DNA of 1933's classic King Kong classic is still smeared all over this pic like a thick coat of hair, gristle and blood. The titular protagonist is a Gorilla Grande who's ever ready for a sharp-toothed roaring close-up. He's a gargantuan headliner, stripped down to his pure, thump-a-chest, pounding-action basics—including explosions, flying bullets and jaw-snapping, monster-mashing carnage.

Mind you, all of that massive monkey business comes complete with the blanch-worthy bloodletting of Hollywood's current CGI wizardry. Don't come seeking light, stop-action charm in this popcorn-muncher. No, the gigantic beasties of Skull Island deliver flesh-rending, human-gobbling and goopy disgorging from start to finish, the kind you might expect if you ran into real two-story-tall spiders or sneering monstrosities with pointy teeth the size of Buicks.

This is an old-fashioned creature-feature, to be sure. But it's definitely not your grandfather's kid-friendly Kong.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults

Credits

Rating

PG-13

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Tom Hiddleston as James Conrad; Samuel L. Jackson as Lt. Colonel Preston Packard; Brie Larson as Mason Weaver; John C. Reilly as Hank Marlow; John Goodman as Bill Randa

Director

Jordan Vogt-Roberts ( )

Distributor

Warner Bros.

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

March 10, 2017

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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