KONG: SKULL ISLAND [PG-13] B+
Jordan Vogt-Roberts joins directors Colin Trevorrow (“Jurassic World”) and Gareth Edwards (“Godzilla”) as indie filmmakers leaping at the chance to helm franchise-level monster event pictures. Vogt-Roberts follows up his well-received 2013 dramedy “The Kings of Summer” with “Kong: Skull Island,” a familiar trip into the uncharted heart of darkness for a team of explorers (Corey Hawkins, John Goodman), jaded freelance professionals (Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson) and war-weary soldiers (Jason Mitchell, Samuel L. Jackson), all ill-prepared to face the king of this undiscovered island jungle. Vogt-Roberts wisely makes use of the early 1970s time frame to insert Vietnam-era relevance into the proceedings, but his greatest tool is the presence of John C. Reilly as an island holdover from another time whose foolish quips prove to contain the necessary wisdom to survive in the face of such fantastic and dangerous wonders. “Kong: Skull Island” is a monster movie with a steady indie heartbeat.