With amazing visuals and an engaging (if silly) plot and the help of some excellent performances, Kong: Skull Island is an incredible example of a classic concept done right.

As the Vietnam War begins winding down, a team of US scientists and their military escort travel to a mysterious, uncharted island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The ominously named “Skull Island” is shrouded by a perpetual lightning storm that has made it entirely inaccessible for centuries, cut off from the rest of the world.

Once on the island, things go pear-shaped pretty quickly and grumpy former-SAS tracker James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), plucky anti-war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), crack-pot scientist Bill Randa (John Goodman), as well as the rest of the surviving science team and military escort, led by Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) must travel to the other side of the island or miss their only shot at rescue.

Kong: Skull Island is one of those movies that is hard to define even if it’s easy to explain. Rather than seeking to modernize the giant-monster genre (like Gareth Edwards’ 2014 revival of Godzilla), Kong wholeheartedly embraces the absurdity of its source material. It understands that it’s a silly idea, and that the genre in-and-of-itself is rather ridiculous, but they love it and it shows.

The cast is fully committed to the film, giving wonder performances and delivering even the most cliché of lines with the perfect balance of seriousness and self-awareness. It’s as though everyone realizes how ridiculous the whole thing is but they simply don’t care.  They know the kind of movie they are making, they know the tropes and the trips and they just go for it, whole-hog. There are even some fun Easter eggs for the attentive viewer. John C. Reilly brings his special addition to the film as Mark Marlow, a fighter pilot who has been trapped on the island since World War II and is described best by one of the soldiers as a crazy Santa Claus.

That isn’t to say that the film doesn’t have its downfalls. There are plenty of plot holes and moments of deus ex machina that would make you do a double-take if you weren’t having such a good time watching a giant gorilla beat the stuffing out of a giant octopus.

What it comes down to, is this: Kong: Skull Island is a wonderful combination of tongue-in-cheek self-awareness and visual spectacle that is just a whole lot of fun to watch.

4 out of 5 stars

Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for brief strong langage
Directed By: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Written By: Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, Derek Connolly
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, John Goodman,
Release Date: March 10, 2017
Runtime: 2h
Post Credits Scene: YES, and it's totally worth it.

Official Trailer: