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A shot in the arm

Old fashioned cornball bombast is rare these days. There are plenty of cynical comedies (eyeroll) and really dark superhero movies (bigger eyeroll). But genuine, shimmery celluloid artifice is far out of fashion. Now you can add the guy who made Kong: Skull Island to that short list of believers. His movie is so gonzo and colorful it made me want to go out and buy the action figures.

Not that there wasn't plenty to appease my grown man tastes: John C. Reilly, doing what only he can do; Samuel L. Jackson as a uniquely compelling anti-villain; and a particularly canny use of Tom Hiddleston, who for once is allowed to be properly slinky eye candy. The film could have done with more and better female parts, and the white-lady-touches-the-godhead-of-nature bit rubbed me the wrong way. But generally they leaped over many tricky hurdles, only to deliver one rousing moment after another. (The shot of Kong busting out of anchor chains will especially please the Tarantino-esque nerd/purists.)

It didn't hurt that I saw it under the big dome at the Arclight in LA. Once I got over the gag-inducing prices and settled in, I realized that it is possible for the theatre experience to improve the movie. Something about that place even made me want to see the new Power Rangers flick. Seeing Hollywood movies in a theatre requires a kind of optimism and patience that I often lack. Good thing I have my experience with Kong to point me in the right direction.