Kong: Skull Island (2017)

B- SDG Original source: National Catholic Register

Welcome to the MonsterVerse.

That seems to be what Legendary Entertainment is calling their new shared universe — which so far features Godzilla and King Kong — although this might cause confusion with another monster-based shared universe, the Universal Monsters series, debuting later this year with The Mummy, to be followed by Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster and so forth.

Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts. Tom Hiddleston, Jason Mitchell, Toby Kebbell, Tian Jing, Corey Hawkins, John Goodman, John C. Reilly, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson. Warner Bros.

Artistic/Entertainment Value

Moral/Spiritual Value

0

Age Appropriateness

Kids & Up*

MPAA Rating

PG-13

Caveat Spectator

Heavy, sometimes gruesome violence and menace; brief profanity, an obscenity, some cursing and crude language; mildly suggestive images.

Legendary’s monster universe, with Godzilla’s rival Mothra and other Toho Studios monsters waiting in the wings, could almost be called the TohoVerse, except King Kong isn’t a Toho monster. Perhaps we could borrow an in-universe term and call it the MutoVerse, “Muto” being an acronym for “Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism.”

In Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla a few years ago, “Muto” was used to describe a pair of mega-critters vaguely reminiscent of (but not to be confused with) Mothra. In retrospect, that, too, seems a bit nonspecific, with a creature like Godzilla stomping around. Yes, he’s Godzilla, but does that make him “identified”?

Eventually, along with Batman v. Superman and Godzilla vs. Kong, I suppose we’ll get Frankenstein vs. Dracula, and perhaps Transformers vs. G.I. Joe in the HasbroVerse, and Warcraft vs. Angry Birds in the GameVerse — not to be confused with the BoardgameVerse of Battleship vs. Risk and Chutes and Ladders vs. Candy Land.

In Kong: Skull Island, it seems “Muto” applies to any massive unidentified terrestrial organism, including Kong, along with a lot of other variously scaled critters skulking about Skull Island. The MutoVerse is ramping up to a Godzilla vs. Kong rematch, and in due course Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah will presumably all take turns fighting one another, culminating in something like the airport set piece in Captain America: Civil War, with everyone against everyone else, only with Mutos instead of superheroes.

That analogy is a bit more apt than it might seem, because the 2014 Godzilla already cast the King of the Monsters as a savior figure defending Los Angeles from the unnamed Mutos — and of course King Kong was sympathetic from the outset and is here likewise cast in a defender role. Mothra, too, has generally been depicted as sympathetic and even heroic, so when these three square off whose side will we be on? It’s kind of like Team Captain America vs. Team Iron Man.

Action, Monstrous, Simian