We Go Ape Over Kong: Skull Island, on Blu-ray and DVD Today!

FTC Statement: Reviewers are frequently provided by the publisher/production company with a copy of the material being reviewed.The opinions published are solely those of the respective reviewers and may not reflect the opinions of CriticalBlast.com or its management.

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. (This is a legal requirement, as apparently some sites advertise for Amazon for free. Yes, that's sarcasm.)

KONG: SKULL ISLAND is not exactly a film that gave me high hopes in the beginning. Let's face it, the last two remakes of the feature (the 1976 John Guillermin version and even the 2005 Peter Jackson one) both left me very unfulfilled.

But Jordan Vogt-Roberts hits all the right notes, with a period piece set on the tail of the Vietnam War, and with a cast seemingly mostly borrowed from AVENGERS: INFINITY WARS. Vogt-Roberts wastes no time introducing the audience to the special-effects extravaganza that is Kong by starting in World War II, where an American pilot and his Japanese adversary both crash on the mysterious Skull Island, before fast-forwarding to 1973 and Nixon's "peace with honor" speech.

As soldiers prepare to return home, one Colonel Preston Packard (SAMUEL L. JACKSON) is unhappy. He sees this as a war that the United States lost, and it doesn't sit well with him. So when he gets a last minute call to offer a military escort detail for a LANSAT mapping mission for Bill Randa (JOHN GOODMAN, VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS) and Houston Brooks (COREY HAWKINS, THE WALKING DEAD), he jumps at the opportunity, unaware that he is stepping into a world where evolution took a crazy turn.

Joining the crew are James Conrad (TOM HIDDLESTON), a mercenary tracker, and Mason Weaver (BRIE LARSON), a war photographer. The mission is to document seismic charges to map the interior of the island. The charges show that the island is mostly hollow, corroborating Brooks' "Hollow Earth" theories, but also drawing the attention of Kong, who shuts down their blasting with ferocious and deadly finality.

The loss of his men puts Packard over the edge, and he seeks vengeance. He's Ahab, and Kong is his great white whale. Meanwhile, part of the team discovers a hidden village of natives who worship Kong -- and living among them the surviving World War II pilot, Hank Marlow (JOHN C. REILLY, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY), who tells them Kong's important role on the island -- and perhaps to the survival of the Earth itself.

The film is replete with horrific giant insects and lizard creatures straight out of a nightmare. The lizards, it turns out, are the natural enemies of Kong, and have made him the last of his kind. But Kong is all that stops them from proliferating out of control.

The action is non-stop, the special effects are eye-popping, and the story is actually one that is engaging, entertaining, and just plain fun to an old fan of the giant monster (or MUTO -- Massive Unidentified Terristrial Organisms) films of yesteryear. The drawback to the film is that there is a lot of language, which keeps it from becoming a foundation for younger viewers to build their fandom of the genre.

4.5 / 5.0