“Kong: Skull Island”

So, Warner Bros is now doing a Marvel-style universe with classic monsters? Okay, I’ll give it a shot since “Kong: Skull Island” was damn entertaining.

It’s the end of the Vietnam War and career soldier Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) is called into action. Joining him are the badass tracker Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), fearless photographer Mason (Brie Larson), and the shady expedition leader Randa (John Goodman). But when they drop bombs on the island they’re exploring, King Kong emerges and grounds them. They find that Kong isn’t the most dangerous creature on the island.

“Kong: Skull Island” is an homage to classic monster movies and Vietnam War movies. It’s shamelessly fun and that’s admirable. Even when Samuel L. Jackson says, “Hold onto your butts,” you can’t help but chuckle.

The filmmakers are more focused on the supporting cast members than Hiddleston, which is an unusual move. Hiddleston’s character has no back story or arc; he’s just the cool guy that swings machetes at mosquitoes in a sequence reminiscent of “300.” Larson’s development isn’t any better. It’s unfortunate since Hiddleston and Larson are versatile, talented actors.

Instead, we focus on Goodman’s Randa trying to prove he’s right, Jackson’s Packard wanting retribution for his men, and John C. Reilly’s Hank Marlow trying to get home. These three compete for scene-stealing status with each other, and Reilly emerges victorious. Reilly brings an even balance of humanity and humor to “Kong: Skull Island.”

The visuals and action sequences vary between harrowing, gruesome, and plain ridiculous. Kong has enough footage and action to make up for Godzilla’s lack of screen time in the 2014 “Godzilla” movie. Thankfully, the action is consistent start-to-finish. Arachnophobes, beware of giant spiders!

I’m skeptical about the concept of turning the classic monsters into a movie universe, but if we get a “King Kong vs. Godzilla” remake, I’ll be there in a heartbeat.

Grade: B

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