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Kong: Skull Island

I want to preface this Spoiler Free review by stating I’m a huge Godzilla fan, own all the movies, and I love them. As super fan of giant monsters, Kaiju and other films that feature strange beasts, this movie has everything a Kaiju fan could ask for. Great special effects, superb actors, giant monster battles, human drama, some comic relief all woven into a captivating and engaging story.

This Kong is not the same as the one depicted in the 1933, 1976 & 2005 movies. No this Kong is molded after the 1962 Kong featured in Toho Studios film “King Kong vs. Godzilla. In fact the Kong depicted in “Kong: Skull Island” will grow up to fight the Godzilla from the 2014 Legendary Studios film “Godzilla.” I look forward to when hese two juggernauts will battle toe-to-toe in their own feature film “Godzilla vs. King Kong” in 2020. This time out Godzilla will get top billing.

But in this movie Kong is King and the star of the show. Rendered wonderfully in detailed CGI Kong is brought to life and is the focal point. He isn’t the only star shinning in this extravaganza though. Delivering stellar performances are John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson (any movie he is in is made even more enjoyable), Tom Hiddleston, the lovely Brie Larson and John C. Rilley. I do want to say a little more about John C. Rilley. From the trailers I knew going in he would provided some comic relief. I was fine with that because I do not always care for dark and gritty films and like a balance of emotions in movies. I feared that his comic relief may render the movie too comical and that it wouldn’t be taken seriously. Yes, John C. Rilley does provide comic relief but that isn’t all. He is not only central to the plot he has some very serious and dramatic moments and I am safe to report his excellent performance really steals the show.

All in all this is a very satisfying entry into Legendary’s Monsterverse and it sets up more films in the franchise that I eagerly await.

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Marvel’s The Avengers Review

I finally bought my copy of Marvel’s The Avengers. I try not to buy DVDs without seeing the movie first. I used to do that thinking I was sure I would like a certain movie, only to have discovered I really didn’t care for it. So with the Avengers I took a risk and bought it without seeing the movie first…and I loved it. It is, in my opinion, the best super hero movie ever made. Prior to this movie I though Iron man was the best super hero movie ever made. This movie garnered a 92% rating on rottentomattoes.com and made $623,357,910 at the domestic box office and $888,400,000 for a grand world wide total of worldwide of $1,511,757,910. Pretty impressive numbers all around.

I find it ironic how much I like the Avengers given that I was a DC snob as a kid. Sure, I liked the Hulk, Spider-Man and Thor as a kid but only a little bit and hardly ever read their comics. When the Dark Knight came out in 2008 I liked it alright but I liked Iron Man, which came out the same year, much better. This year the Avengers came out the same years as the sequel to the Dark Knight (The Dark Knight Rises) and even though I will buy that movie sight unseen, I figure I will more than likely like the Avengers that much more. Yes, it is that good.

Now for the review: The film was written and directed by Joss Whedon and stars an ensemble cast including Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgård and Samuel L. Jackson. Each and everyone of them has their moment to shine and these moments are interwoven into the story in a natural way and it never feels forced like they were giving each character their obligatory moment in the spotlight.

This movie does tie into the previous films that set up this movie. It is important to have seen Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Captain America and Thor. Each of those movies sets up the characters and their back story. Thor especially ties into this movie as his brother, Loki, played marvelously well by Tom Hiddleston is the main antagonist in the film. Mark Ruffalo, played Dr. Banner, taking over in the role from Edward Norton. I had heard that Ruffalo stole the show and I would agree. I think Ruffalo played Dr. Banner more in a relaxed and playful style rather than Norton’s almost depressed and desperate interpretation of the character. That really isn’t a criticism of Norton’s portrayal. His acting was just fine. In that movie we see Banner still struggling with his “inner rage monster” and in this movie we see Banner at peace with the monster that lies within. I just prefer the more relaxed and playful style that Ruffalo depicted.

I do have to contrast this with the Nolan Batman movies for a moment. While the story of the Batman movies are gripping they lack any sunlight and joy. The Avengers, on the other other hand, also tells a gripping story but it also has a good deal of its humor and light moments. This humor seems natural and is not played solely for laughs. While Batman tries to be realistic…with a premise that Batman exists in the real world…the Avengers is a comic book come to life. Great special effects, superb special effects I should add, but it never tries to play as if it is in the real world. I think that element of telling a good story but staying in a world that isn’t real works better than gritty realism. Watch, the Superman movie next year may be more gritty realism and I will probability like that. All I know is that gritty realism won’t work well for the Avengers.

Another important aspect to the story is the fact that as the heroes are assembling to meet the challenge of Loki, who as stolen the tesserat, a cube that will open a gateway to another dimension, there is a great deal of infighting distrust and suspicion amongst the heroes. After they figure out it is Loki himself that is causing these divisions they all come together to fight not only Loki but the army that he has unleashed from this other dimension. As the Avengers come together in this final and epic battle in New York City all hell breaks loose.

This movie has it all. Action, adventure, heroism a lot of heart as well as brains. I have already watched it three times so far. Soon I will have to do a marathon of all the movies leading up to this one and then will top the marathon off with another delightful helping of The Avengers. Sequels to Thor and Iron Man are being made now and the sequel to the Avengers is in pre-production. I can’t wait for the saga to continue!