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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

‘Kong: Skull Island’ won’t monkey around

Expect most Inland Northwest movies screens to be filled with ape antics on Friday, considering "Kong: Skull Island" will be playing pretty much on demand beginning Thursday night.

Don't believe me? AMC River Park Square is losing six films — say again, six — and will be replacing them with prints of "Kong: Skull Island" in standard frame, 3D and 3D IMAX. The other two major chains, Regal Cinemas in Northtown Mall, Spokane Valley and Coeur d'Alene, plus the Village Centre sites at Wandermere and Airway Heights — are likely to follow suit.

What can we expect from "Kong: Skull Island"? Well, it's no great stretch to say that this will another update of what directors Meriam C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack — with the help of a gaggle of screen writers — gave us back in 1933. It's interesting to note that, even though they use the same name for the creature (Kong) and the same basic setup (outsiders invading a remote island and encountering a primitive world ruled over by ancient creatures and a giant ape), they current production team gives no credit to the franchise's originators.

And that's the word for it: franchise. A quick search of IMDB shows a number of King Kong references, led by the major efforts in 1933, the Dino De Laurentiis production in 1976 (the one featuring Jeff Bridges and a briefly topless Jessica Lange), and Peter Jackson's 2005 version.

FYI: The one I want to see is Ishiro Honda's 1962 effort "King Kong vs. Godzilla." 

Anyway, if you wondered whether no-name director Jordan Vogt-Roberts had the required competence to helm such a potential blockbuster, know that the film has attracted an 81 percent positive rating among critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Following are some of the comments:

Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly: "We didn't come to Kong: Skull Island for the characters (well-developed or otherwise), we came for the damn dirty ape. And director Jordan Vogt-Roberts and Industrial Light and Magic's Kong is a CGI showstopper."

Owen Gleiberman, Variety: "The surprise is that Skull Island isn't just ten times as good as Jurassic World; it's a rousing and smartly crafted primordial-beastie spectacular."

But, of course, there have to be naysayers:

Anthony Lane, The New Yorker: "Nothing can supplant the charm of the original Kong, who, thanks to the film’s stop-motion process, bore a touch of the tremulous and the hesitant to go along with his chest-thumping might, and Vogt-Roberts is smart enough not to try. Instead, he turns the trip to Skull Island into precisely that: a trip."

Go and make up your own mind. You'll likely have lots — and lots — of chances.

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