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Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island

Released 9 March 2017
Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson, Jing Tian, Toby Kebbell, John Ortiz, Corey Hawkins, John C. Reilly

Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, Derek Connolly

Thomas Tull, Mary Parent, Jon Jashni, Alex Garcia
Origin United States
Running Time 118 minutes
Genre Action, adventure, fantasy
Rating 12A

Monkey business.

Who needs another King Kong movie eh? It's a fair question; arguably the eponymous ape reached his peak with Fay Wray back in 1933. Being an ape of few words, it can't even be said that his character has much scope for the kind of cinematic transformation seen with other iconic characters. What Kong does have going for him is the spectacle – audiences still love watching great big monsters causing havoc. In fact, if the spectacle is good enough, we can overlook a ropey script or dodgy performance. This is lucky for Kong: Skull Island, a film that is tremendous fun to watch but often creaks under the weight of silly dialogue and uneven performances.

In its set-up, the film is hardly revolutionary; a rag-tag group of scientists, military and assorted hangers-on head to a mysterious island where monster-based chaos ensues. What makes this particular iteration interesting is its 1971 setting, just as the Vietnam War comes to a close and the Cold War rears its head. Screenwriter Dan Gilroy makes hay with this setting and comes up with some great one-liners that bring the laugh count on a par with any of the out and out comedies that I've seen this year. This playfulness extends to Jordan Vogt-Roberts' direction as he delivers references to Apocalypse Now alongside some visual tics that are joyful in their over-the-top nature.

The beast himself looks great and the opening sequence, in which the cast of characters arrive on the island via helicopter is spectacular and imaginative. As more and more super-sized monsters are thrown into the mix, the pace never lets up. This is probably for the best because if we were to stop and think for too long we would notice the awkward moments of exposition, the duff performances (Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson are both oddly underwhelming) and the on the nose musical choices.

The fact of the matter is though that at the time, I really was too entertained to notice any of these things. Kong: Skull Island is a spectacular, silly theme park ride of a film.

- Linda O'Brien