Friday, 3 March 2017

Kong Skull Island Review

Kong Skull Island

King Kong has come along way since his 1933 debut on top of the Empire State Building.

Over the years there’s been seven films about the giant ape, not including the Japanese versions.

The most recent was Peter Jackson’s remake of the original, which followed the Beauty and the Beast storyline – something the new film’s director wanted to get away from.

Now 12 years later Kong is back and fully rebooted.

Kong: Skull Island is part of Warner Bros new MonsterVerse, which started off with the rather grey and frankly boring Godzilla remake in 2014.

It’s the King’s turn now and his new origin story has taken a rather refreshing twist by being set in 1973 and confining him to Skull Island.

The incredibly bearded director, Jordan Vogt-Roberts, hasn’t made a movie beyond a 2013 indie, but you would think he’s been making blockbusters for years.

Kong Skull Island

It was clear before the premiere what he, the cast and studio set out to achieve as Tom Hiddleston presented the screening.

He said: “This is a good old-fashioned monster movie.” And he is exactly right.

In the first few minutes the audience is introduced to the hulking great ape, rather than the usual tedious build up expected of this genre.

After all, there was a full 45 minutes before reaching Skull Island in Jackson’s movie and being introduced to King Kong.

Audiences have come to see the monsters and monsters, straight away, is what they get with Kong: Skull Island.

The film quickly sets up the plot of an expedition to find the mysterious Skull Island, led by John Goodman’s amusing secret government official, before throwing you head long into the dangerous world of this Jurassic Park/Lost mashup.

Having not opted for the usual green screen, this movie saw Hawaii, Vietnam and Australia’s Gold Coast double for Skull Island’s dangerous heights.

Of course the 1970s setting was always going to be risky, but it pays off thanks to Skull Island’s tropical setting making an obvious homage to Apocalypse Now, complete with Richard Nixon bobble head in the one of the helicopter.

This period trope is slightly over done at times, but it’s a nice change from the previous 1930s setting, making Kong: Skull Island feel more like something of a war film.

When it comes to special effects Kong, and the various skull-like two-legged monsters he attacks to enforce his dominion, look great and provide for some excellent giant bashing.

As previously said, the Beauty and the Beast arc has been left aside by the director, but there is one touching moment between Kong and Brie Larson’s war photographer, which adds a nice nod to the Kings who have preceded him.

However, while Kong: Skull Island provides some good quality trashy entertainment mixed with blockbuster style special effects, its really let down by it’s script and lead characters –something that stops it being the four star great it should be.

Hiddleston’s supposedly anti-hero, former British army officer is introduced in a bar, unshaven and beating someone up with a pool cue.

Clearly this is something of a subliminal James Bond audition, whether intended by him or not.

The lanky old Etonion is a decent actor with a varied career, but he’s really no action hero.

Kong Skull Island

He he provides some pretty wooden acting, alongside Larson, who together add nothing to the plot, to the point where you realise if they hadn’t been in the film in the first place, nothing would have changed.

Someone like Tom Hardy or Dwayne Johnson would have been much more suitable for this fun action role, with their much needed B-movie style sass – something the posh, polite Hiddleston, as lovable as he is, just isn’t quite right for.

Another big mistake was his lack of contact with the quirky and amusing supporting cast.

Samuel L Jackson provides his usual ‘I don’t take sh** from nobody’ attitude, found in many of his movies, as a US Army Lieutenant Colonel, who stands up to Kong amid flame and destruction.

But really it’s John C Reilly’s World War II veteran, stranded on Skull Island for 28 years, who stole the show – with his eccentric jibber jabbering and enthusiasm, despite their dire situation.

Then we come to the script, which left much to be desired and made further characters aside from the leads basically redundant.

Kong Skull Island

While Toby Kebbell’s Chapman has little to add, it’s Jing Tian and Corey Hawkins members of the exhibition who were given the most brainless lines.

In one scene where they’re waiting on a boat for the others, Jing’s San Lin, a young biologist says, “They said we should leave at dawn.”

Corey’s Houston, a young geologist says: “Yes.”

Before San Lin replied: “It’s dawn.”

Nevertheless, while Kong: Skull Island is let down by some of its cast, characters and scripts, it is still great fun as a crash-bang-wallop monster movie and is well worth seeing.

But this is far from the end for Kong, with Godzilla: King of Monsters due in 2019 along with some other big beasties, before 2020’s Godzilla vs. Kong which sounds like a heap fun.

And who knows, maybe the MonsterVerse is on its way rival the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its various counterparts.



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