Saw KONG: SKULL ISLAND. Meh. Terrific first hour. Second hour loses focus with too many characters and not enough real characterization.

Ending lacked the resonance of the classic original. Since this, like so many big-budget flicks today, is not a stand-alone film, but part of a bigger series, there is no real ending. Only a brief cessation of spectacle until the next installment begins. As a result there is no satisfying conclusion at the end, as when Robert Armstrong says: “It was beauty killed the beast.” As my son, J. Michael, said, every movie made today is a two-hour commercial for the next one.”

I think another problem was too many writers. Four I think. It was Kong meets Apocalypse Now. Throw in a World War II surviver still alive on Skull Island after 28 years. He was originally stuck there with a Japanese soldier, and in the film’s prologue they try to kill each other until a giant ape suddenly appears. Twenty eight years pass and the American vet (John C. Reilly) is still alive. The Japanese guy is dead. Big mistake. They should have kept him alive and every so often have him come out of the bushes to attack Reilly. You know, like Inspector Clouseau and Kato. Just a thought.

Not terrible, but falls short of the high bar set by Merrian C. Cooper and company. Oddly I saw this No. 1 at the box office movie at a Sunday 1:30 matinee in a huge Cinemark theater with state of the art 3-D and multi-track sound. Technically one of the best viewing and listening experiences I’ve had. But only 10 people in the theater.