10 Things Parents Should Know About ‘Kong: Skull Island’

Everyone’s favorite ape returns to the big screen this weekend. Should you take the kids? Read on…

1. Kong again? Did we really need to tell this story a fourth time?

As it turns out, yes to the first question, and no to the second. While this is indeed the fourth (stand-alone) movie to feature King Kong, this one tells an entirely different story. Gone are the attempts to capture Kong and bring him back to New York, and obviously, that means no scaling buildings, either. Instead, this movie is a completely retelling of Kong’s story, making him much, much larger than we’ve ever seen and casting him into a brand new, yet familiar universe. (Read on for more…)

2. Who stars in the movie (besides the special effects teams, of course)?

They were able to assemble quite the cast for this film. Tom Hiddleston plays the jungle guide the team hires to help them out, and Samuel L. Jackson plays the hardened Army colonel leading the military team. John Goodman is the scientist who instigates the whole thing, and he’s assisted by Corey Hawkins (from The Walking Dead and 24: Legacy). And John C. Reilly shows up as a World War II pilot who has been trapped on the island for decades.

Because it’s a Kong movie, there does need to be a beautiful blonde, and this time Brie Larson fills those shoes. However, she’s a far cry from the mostly helpless women in past versions who are there to scream through the movie. I don’t actually recall her screaming even once; instead, she’s a strong, capable woman who more than holds her own as things start to go very, very wrong. Here, she shows that she’s well suited for action films, and I for one am looking forward more than ever to see how she handles Captain Marvel.

3. What’s it rated, and why?

The movie is rated PG-13 for “intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for brief strong language.” The first third or so of the movie is normal set-up stuff, where we meet the characters and briefly travel to Skull Island. But from almost the minute they arrive, roughly 30 minutes into the movie, until the lights come back up in the theater, it is non-stop “intense sequences of sci-fi violence.” The movie has a very high body count, with lots of characters crushed and eaten and generally tossed around in ways that are unhealthy for humans. And here, there be monsters.

As for the language: there were a fair number of “s” words, and one “f” that stood out to me. Generally, PG-13 aren’t allowed more than one use of that word, so I assume there weren’t any others.

4. Will I like it?

Fans of modern monster movies almost certainly will. The effects are incredible, and both Kong and the snake-like creatures he fights were very believable. There are plenty of things blowing up, lots of guns going off, and a healthy amount of loud roaring. And I said above, once the movie gets going it basically doesn’t stop. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

5. Will my kids like it? 

The movie is quite intense, and as noted above there are lots of people who get killed in lots of different ways. There isn’t much in the way of gore per se, but they still don’t leave a lot to the imagination. I would guess that younger kids might find the movie quite scary, so if your little ones tend to be the sensitive type, I’d probably keep them at home. That said, I saw it with my 11-year-old, and he thoroughly enjoyed it. But then, he isn’t bothered by monsters on screen–he was only eight when he saw Godzilla, and he enjoyed that as well.

6. Is it worth seeing in 3D? 

I saw it in 2D, and didn’t feel I missed much. There were a few obvious moments when they threw stuff at the screen that might have been a bit cooler in 3D, but the trade-off is that there were a lot of quite dark sequences that wouldn’t be helped by the inevitable darkening that happens with 3D, and also, quite a few of the fight sequences would likely have been harder to follow. So my recommendation: save the cash and see it in 2D.

7. Is it worth IMAX?

Big movies with big monsters are generally pretty great in IMAX, but the trade-off here is that at least where I live, you don’t have the option to see the movie in 2D with IMAX. That said, we did shell out the extra few bucks for Cinemark’s XD–their large format screens–and it was definitely worth that.

8. How long is the movie, and when can I run out to pee?

The movie is officially exactly 2 hours. About 40 minutes or so into the movie, there’s a bit where one group of characters come across a giant water buffalo or some sort of thing. What follows is an icky fight scene with a monster that you can definitely miss without losing anything story-wise. It’s also a good time to sneak out anyway if you have issues with spiders.

9. Is there anything after the credits?

Yes. The first several minutes of the credits provide a nice denouement for one of the characters, but then stick around throughout as there is an important scene at the very end of the credits.

10. So about that “putting Kong in a new universe” thing…

I really don’t want to give anything away here, but some fans might recognize, early on, the name of the company that John Goodman represents: Monarch. If that isn’t enough to clue you in to what they’re going to be doing with Kong, be extra certain to stick around for the post-credits scene, which makes it very, very clear what universe they’re now putting Kong in. The only hint I’ll give here is that it definitely explains why this Kong needs to be a heck of a lot bigger than past Kongs.

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