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Kong: Skull Island
4/5
dir Jordan Vogt-Roberts
scr Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, Derek Connolly
prd Mary Parent, Alex Garcia, Jon Jashni, Thomas Tull
with Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L Jackson, John C Reilly, John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, Jing Tian, Toby Kebbell, Terry Notary, Thomas Mann, Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham, Richard Jenkins
release US/UK 10.Mar.17
17/Australia Warners 1h58
Kong: Skull Island
Beauties and the beast: Hiddleston, Larson and Kong

jackson reilly kebbell
See also:
Godzilla (2014)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Kong: Skull Island Basically Apocalypse Now with added monsters, this period adventure is an enjoyable romp packed with vivid people and situations. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts also takes the time to deepen the characters, picking at some very big themes along the way. This means that the movie is viscerally thrilling and also darkly provocative.

In 1973, Bill (Goodman) and two scientists (Hawkins and Jing) travel to Vietnam to gather mercenary James (Hiddleston), photojournalist Mason (Larson) and a helicopter squadron led by Packard (Jackson) for an expedition to investigate rumours of prehistoric monsters on an uncharted island. Sure enough, their depth charges awaken a mammoth gorilla named Kong, who immediately downs their choppers. As they struggle to escape, the survivors encounter stranded WWII veteran Marlow (Reilly) as well as the hideous lizard-like creatures Kong is keeping at bay.

Infused with a 1970s vibe, from imagery to pacing to song score, the movie grabs hold of the audience with its prickly character interaction, then takes us on a journey with them. The plot twists and turns through a series of unexpected events that are staged on a grand scale in a spectacular setting. Effects are realistic, even if some design work niggles (Kong is all ripped back muscles and firm bum, the lizard-things are deliberately repulsive in every possible way).

Performances have an earthy quality, enjoyably throwing a gang of control freaks into an insane situation. Jackson has the showiest role as a bullheaded leader who won't listen to anyone. The almost impossibly fit and gorgeous Hiddleston and Larson radiate intelligence and humour, which keeps them likeable. Reilly provides the comic relief as the guy who's been talking to himself far too long. And there are nice touches to all of the side roles as well, including some brooding emotionality for Kong himself (mo-capped by Notary and Kebbell, who also plays a crash-landed soldier).

The range of characters and size of the adventure make this film relentlessly entertaining, especially as it touches on some pungent themes about dangerous militaristic attitudes and of course the idea that we have no idea what kind of monsters we unleash when we rashly decide to destroy something. None of this is heavy-handed, but then it also doesn't go too deep. It just adds some texture to an otherwise rollicking action movie that's packed with spiky protagonists we hope to catch up with in Warner Bros' next monster adventure.

cert 12 themes, violence, language 2.Mar.17

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© 2017 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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