Kong: Skull Island is the second entry in Legendary's MonsterVerse, and is the follow-up to 2015's Godzilla reboot.
This is not to be confused with Universal's budding Dark Universe - which will kick off this summer with the Tom Cruise led The Mummy, and which will include monsters from classic literature such as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein's Monster, and the Invisible Man.
We are now firmly in the age of cinematic universes, so the casual movie-goer might have to do a little work to keep things straight.
Or you could rely on yours truly to help you out. Don't worry. I got you, fam.
So first of all, let's just set the record straight: In both Godzilla and Kong, the human characters are utterly inconsequential. I mean, they're fine. But if you're going to see these movies for good human drama, then you might need to adjust your expectations. There's one reason to go see these movies: to see giant monsters fight other giant monsters. And that's really all the reason you need.
The human factor in Kong: Skull Island is at best a cypher in which to insert yourself in order to experience the terrifying awe of seeing the reality of these towering colossi. Maybe that might change going forward and the next entries will include a compelling human storyline, and that would be a welcome change. But for the first two films, I couldn't care less about the human characters.
As for Kong himself, I have an issue. I think I've said this before elsewhere, but my personal suspension of disbelief apparently extends to everything EXCEPT monkeys. Giant Lizards? Check. Massive robots fighting each other? Cool. Giant robots fighting alien creatures? Fine. Dinosaurs taking over a theme-park? Great. But put a monkey into the mix and I just can't buy it. I've never liked King Kong, and I've never liked Planet of the Apes. I just don't do monkeys.
That being said, Kong: Skull Island is by far the best monkey movie I've seen. The groovy 70's, Vietnam, quasi-Apocalypse-Now style works to its advantage, and sets a fun tone for the film.
And let's face it, the real stars of the movie are the monsters, of which there are many. The effects are suitably impressive, and the critter-carnage plays out in popcorn-munching, eye-candy fashion. It's a summer flick, and not much more.
It does set up the future of the MonsterVerse with the promise of more MUTO's (Massive Unknown Terrestrial Organisms) and classic Godzilla mainstays like Mothra and company. So there's more to look forward to.
I hope they find a way to anchor it more in the future, because a movie with the likes of Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Sam Jackson, and John Goodman should be better than it is.
But oh, well.
*shrugs and munches popcorn
Bring on the monsters.