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Kong Skull Island

Review by Paul Bowler

Kong Skull Island sees Hollywood’s most iconic movie monster of them all, King Kong, smashing his way back onto the big screen, together with an all-star cast, including Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson, and John C Reilly for Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts blockbusting reboot of the Kong Kong franchise.

Set in 1973, as the Vietnam War is drawing to a close, representatives of Monarch (the same corporation from Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla) scientist Bill Randa (John Goodman) and his colleague Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins), recruit British former S.A.S officer / James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) for his tracking skills, along with anti-war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), and a crack team of soldiers led by Samuel L Jackson’s no-nonsense Colonel Packard, to escort them to a fabled uncharted island to uncover its mysteries.

But when their helicopters are attacked by Kong, the downed survivors of the expedition of scientists and soldiers face a daunting trek across Skull Island to rendezvous with a rescue team. On the way they encounter the local natives, and Marlow (John C Reilly), a WWII pilot who became stranded on Skull Island back in 1944, and with his help they continue their journey, running a dangerous gauntlet with the other gigantic monsters on the island amidst their epic clashes with Kong in their desperate bid to escape from Skull Island.

Kong Skull Island is an entertaining adrenalin fuelled monster movie, the screenplay by Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, and Derek Connolly is fast paced and exciting. You can’t really go wrong though when you have a cast of the calibre of Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L Jackson, and John Goodman, even though the story gives scant time for much in-depth characterization, but, aside some odd moments of cheesy dialogue, there are strong performances all around, and John C Reilly totally steals the lime-light from everyone as Marlow.

The real “star” of the movie, though, is of course King Kong himself, and the other bizarre array of creatures that inhabit Skull Island. Kong looks magnificent, standing at 100ft tall; the gigantic monster ape has never looked more menacing and as powerful as he has here. His introduction is swift, tossing helicopters left right and centre, in a terrifying display of bestial fury, and from there on in every time Kong appears to menace the expedition or battle monsters, your jaw will hit the floor as the rampaging carnage unfolds. As well as Kong, Hiddleston and Co encounter all manner of other wild and dangerous beasties during their arduous voyage across the island, the most fearsome of which are the Skullcrawlers, who in turn are also Kong’s most formidable adversaries on the island.

Sidestepping the more usual Kong tropes to go for a full-on reboot in terms of tone and style, the distinct Apocalypse Now vibe that Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts has going on with the stunning visuals epitomizes Vogt-Roberts vision for the film, which, together with the terrific 70’s soundtrack, effectively ensures that this adventure to Skull Island hardly ever hits a dull moment. Its a monster movie epic that makes Kong the revered king of all he surveys – in every sense of the word. Sure, the plot and the human characters may be a bit inconsequential next to all the mega-buck B-Movie monster action set-pieces, but let’s face it, where all here to see Kong in action and unashamedly wallow in the sheer spectacle of it all anyway.

Kong Skull Island does exactly what it says on the tin, and then some. It all rounds off with a titanic smack down as Kong tackles his most powerful adversary of all, and there’s even some tantalising post-credit franchise cross pollinating to look out for as well. Big on action and high on fun, Kong Skull Island is a triumphant reimagining of the King Kong mythos for fans old and new, and a sure-fire monster hit not to be missed.