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Kong: Skull Island

This is a scene from the movie "Kong: Skull Island." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (CNS photo/Warner Bros.)

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NEW YORK (CNS) -- With a thematic agenda that takes it beyond the usual confines of its genre, and a story driven forward by sustained, nervous dread -- an emotion skillfully conveyed from the characters to the audience -- "Kong: Skull Island" (Warner Bros.) is an impressive monster movie.

The multiple dangers the cast confront lead to some unsettling mayhem and a few grisly deaths, however, marking this as a film strictly for grownups.

Set in 1973, director Jordan Vogt-Roberts' action adventure uses the waning days of the Vietnam War as a backdrop -- and as a cue for its exploration of the destructive human aggressiveness that gives rise to armed conflict.

The movie's embodiment of such belligerence is hard-bitten Army Lt. Col. Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson). Together with his civilian counterpart, fringe researcher Bill Randa (John Goodman), Packard leads an ensemble of scientists and soldiers on a government sponsored expedition to the location of the title, a previously uncharted island perpetually surrounded, on all sides, by a turbulent weather pattern.

There, Packard, Randa and their followers -- most prominently British special forces veteran James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), who has been hired to serve as the group's guide, and self-described anti-war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) who has decided this is her next big story -- encounter an updated version of King Kong.

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