The first in a series of fiscal calamities from the high-stakes 2013 blockbuster brigade, Bryan Singer’s epic adventure had the sweetly acrid aroma of critical Schadenfreude already clinging to it. It managed to be both under and overrated. The old tale gets freshened up with a clash of Commoner/Royalty romance; a tone that neatly splits the difference between wisecracking & heroic (though too contemporary to swallow); and a good cast, with the lackluster exception of Eleanor Tomlinson’s Princess. As Jack, young Nicholas Hoult has a wicked grin when he gets the chance to show it, and a witty charm about him, but he can’t save the film from its haphazard story construction (try the original KING KONG/’33 to see how they screwed up the template*) or from the decision to go CGI on the giants. Once the film gets rid of the human villains, these computer generated beasts are the only threat left. Oh, there’s lots & lots of them, a whole army’s worth, but you keep thinking they're around only because they've become technically doable. A problem that’s been playing out to dispiriting effect over this very pricey, digitally imagined, 3D summer.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: In addition to the odd distinction of editing and scoring Tent Pole pics, multitasking John Ottman has added producer to his credit line. A Hollywood first?
DOUBLE-BILL: *Just in case you missed the connection to KING KONG’s home, check out the poster above. Skull Island, anyone?