Critics praise filmed-in-Vietnam Kong movie for going back to the jungle

By VnExpress   March 3, 2017 | 04:00 am PT
The latest retake of the Hollywood brand has pleased critics for letting the creature be comfortably wild.

Anticipation is building ahead of “Kong: Skull Island” world premiere, with critics either excited or relieved that the movie breaks from previous reboots and takes the giant ape back to its original jungle setting.

The anticipated action fantasy kicks off in 1973 when U.S. troops are pulling out of Vietnam. A team of soldiers and explorers run into the mythical Kong while traveling to an uncharted island in the Pacific.

On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has received an approval rating of 82 percent based on 32 reviews, with an average rating of 6.2/10.

Owen Gleiberman, chief film critic at Variety, said that the movie “proves to be a better creature feature than either of the previous remakes.”

The film is set entirely on Kong’s jungle island where the creature does not scale any skyscrapers like in the other more ambitious remakes in 1976 or 2005, he said.

"Kong: Skull Island” is more casually willing to be its own thing, he said, and that’s why it “may come closer in spirit to the wide-eyed amazement of the original than either of those remakes.”

“A King Kong movie should be a fairy tale of primeval wonder, and this one is.”

Jordan Vogt-Roberts’s film will hit local threaters next Friday, around a year after around 120 crew members and an all-star cast, including Oscar winner Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson and Tom Hiddleston, touched down in Vietnam to shoot at famous sites in the central province of Quang Binh’s colossal caves, the northern province of Ninh Binh and the world-renowned Ha Long Bay.

Parts of the film were also filmed in Hawaii and Australia.

Entertainment Weekly’s Chris Nashawaty said that “Kong: Skull Island” gives him high hopes that it will be a throwback to the late-‘90s era of gung-ho, macho adventure, after the “loopy” ‘60s spin-off pitting the creature against Godzilla, the eco-conscious 1976 extravaganza and Peter Jackson’s emo retelling in 2005.

Dominick Suzanne-Mayer of Consequence of Sound also said that the latest Kong reboot has returned to the roots of the great monster movies in at least one key respect.

“It understands the appeal of these movies as a reminder of humanity’s relative insignificance in the face of horrors it can’t possibly comprehend,” he said.

The reboot received a 4/5 rating from Heather Wixson from Daily Dead, who said it’s one of the films she has been most excited about for 2017 ever since the first trailer was released.

“Kong, Skull Island” is something that truly celebrates the majesty of everyone’s favorite larger-than-life primate who has been a part of cinematic history for over 80 years now, she said.

Viewers will be able to get up close and personal with the big guy in the movie’s opener, and there will be a lot of great jaw-dropping moments with him throughout the island adventure, she said, praising Vogt-Roberts for putting together a piece that feels like “pure monster movie magic from beginning to end.”

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