Probably the worst kept cinematic secret, so far, this year is that KONG: SKULL ISLAND is Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures co-attempt to create their own Marvel Cinematic Universe. KONG is entry number two (no pun intended) in the so-called “MonsterVerse” film series; following a certain movie that came out in 2014. KONG plays simply as an origin story to the titular beast — and that is part of the problem.

As with quite a few of the Marvel movies, this one feels less like an earnest attempt at telling a story than it does feel like an overdone advertisement for a future installment.

Going in, it’s best to know that KONG does not take itself seriously. It’s a mindless popcorn flick in every imaginable way, and is filled with underdeveloped, STAR TREK ‘red shirt’-level disposable slabs of meat who have virtually no impact on the story. The humans here are purposefully portrayed by well-liked actors (Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly) because why waste time building three-dimensional characters when you can just make the audience go ‘Hey, I like Loki’?

CG-Kong, itself, is a sight to behold as the effects work is rather impressive (even if we still can’t get creatures as breathtaking as the first JURASSIC PARK). The scenes with Kong are exciting, but they are too infrequent to sustain interest over the course of a 118-minute runtime. When we are left to deal with the bland plot devices human element, the movie becomes an exposition-heavy marathon that is neither engaging or entertaining.

Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (2013’s Sundance favorite, THE KINGS OF SUMMER) became the latest indie filmmaker (following Marc Webb, Gareth Edwards, and Colin Trevorrow) to be trusted with such a large property, and his inexperience shows a little more than you would hope. It’s not like the film is a complete mess — it does have its moments — but the decided lack of fun throughout the rest of the proceedings makes for a mediocre effort.

Stay after the credits end for an obvious stinger, but KONG is strictly for those who just want to see giant monsters battle each other (which sounds a lot more exciting than the actual product).

Two out of Five Beers.

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