Movie Reviews: Kong: Skull Island and Get Out

Cary, NC – Kong: Skull Island is a monstrously good time at the movies. This latest iteration of King Kong wastes no time in getting to the good stuff, fills the screen with likable and memorable characters and features some truly insane action beats. That’s definitely a compliment by the way.

A Blast Of A Monster Movie

Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, whose only previous film is the small independent coming-of age-comedy The Kinds Of Summer, makes an impressive leap to big budget filmmaking. Kong is not interested in wasting time. After some brief exposition setting things up, the film jumps to Skull Island and the King makes a grand entrance. It’s actually refreshing, as most films like to tease the reveal. But Kong gets down to business early and often, and the movie is all the better for it.

Great Cast

The cast includes Tom Hiddleston (The Avengers), Brie Larson (Room), John C. Reilly (Talladega Nights), John Goodman and Samuel L. Jackson. Everyone is having a blast here, particularly Jackson and Reilly. Both actors know exactly what kind of movie this is and they help sell every second of it.

If anyone gets short changed, it’s Hiddleston and Larson. Both actors are great, but overall they have very little to do. It’s a small complaint, but worth noting when both actors are as enjoyable as these two.

See It, And See It Big

Kong: Skull Island is pure monster movie joy. It’s not trying to be anything other than what it is, which is a whole lot of fun. Vogt-Roberts direction and pacing is aces, and Kong himself looks flawless. The film’s willingness to get wild and weird is a treat we don’t often get with movies of this size. Kong: Skull Island is well worth seeing, and well worth seeing on the biggest screen possible.

Get Out

Horror movies seem to always make a good chunk of money but few get people talking as much as Get Out. And for good reason: this film blends comedy, horror and social commentary in a seamless fashion to create a experience that is totally unique.

Using Subtle Scares

The story of Get Out is very straightforward. Boyfriend Chris is going to visit girlfriend Rose’s family for the first time in a fancy and remote neighborhood. The subtext is made clear as Chris, played by Daniel Kaluuya (Black MirrorSicario) is black and Rose, played by Allison Williams (Girls, Peter Pan), is white. Chris talks openly about how he is worried about the meeting and Rose’s parents and friends do not make that any easier, resulting in what some reviewers have dubbed “benevolent racism.”

Amidst this uncomfortable setting, very akin to films such as Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?, the film introduces scares in two different ways. On one hand, we have Chris noticing people acting very strange, such as the maid Georgina, played by Betty Gabriel (The Purge: Election Year), fighting back tears through creepy laughter. But on the other hand, we see things Chris doesn’t. When he leaves a room, the atmosphere changes dramatically and there is also a suspenseful opening scene that shows something is up.

Get Out is filled with moments such as these and it makes for a suspenseful watch. The downside is, if you have seen the trailers, many of these elements are spoiled for you so the impact is much duller than if you went in knowing nothing.

Comedy Chops

Get Out also stands out because it is a horror movie written and directed by comedian Jordan Peele of the sketch comedy show Key & Peele. While the detail in the scary moments and the well-crafted cinematography coming from Peele may surprise some people, the comedy will not.

Comedy about the tensions between white and black communities are common in Key & Peele and those come up in Chris’ initial interactions with Rose and her family. But there is also one character who is all about comedy: Chris’ friend Rod. Rod is played by comedian Lil Rey Howsey (The Jerrod Carmichael Show) and is fantastic. His lines almost feel like improv and he breaks up the tension with his performance and, no spoilers, plays a crucial role in the plot.

What is most impressive is how the comedy does not take away from the horror. When Get Out needs to be scary, it shifts gears effortlessly. And when it’s time to laugh, you are not too off-put by the frightening scenes that preceded it.

Great, Unique Movie

Even if you are not a horror movie fan, Get Out comes highly recommended. It has something for everyone, as well as a thought-provoking statement on race relations in 2017. Hopefully it results in more movies – horror, comedy or otherwise – from Jordan Peele.

Jordan Hunt reviews movies for CaryCitizen. Read more Movie Reviews. Photos from Facebook (Kong: Skull Island/Get Out).

Arts coverage on CaryCitizen is sponsored in part by The Cary Theater.

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