Whatever Kong: Skull Island turns out to be, it definitely has a disciplined running time: 115 minutes (118 minutes with closing credits). That’s only 11 minutes longer than the 1933 King Kong (104 minutes with overture) and 72 minutes shorter than Peter Jackson‘s elephantine 2005 remake, which ran 187 minutes.

“I wanted to keep it short,” director Jordan Vogt-Roberts has told Miami Herald interviewer-critic Rene Rodriguez. “I’m fascinated by how bloated movies have gotten these days. Fargo was 95 minutes. I miss the days of brevity in films. You’ve got Transformers movies that are three hours. I wanted this movie to be fun.”

“Although the film is a tentpole picture designed to prop up a huge franchise,” Rodriguez notes, “the movie is filled with artistic touches that make it feel personal and unique. There’s a genuine artistic vision here, from the plentiful improvisations (most of them by John C. Reilly) to throwaway but lovely shots, such as a dragonfly flying in front of a fleet of military helicopters, looking like it’s one of the choppers.

JVR: “My mantra while making the movie was ‘elevate beyond expectation.’ I wanted to avoid anything that felt derivative, because otherwise why would anyone go see this movie?”