While the King himself still packs a punch – this latest reboot of the giant gorilla legend is pretty basic fare.
In fact, it’s pretty darn disappointing after the excitement generated by the trailers – particularly as Kong is accompanied by an all-star cast.
Actors like Tom ‘Loki’ Hiddleston – fresh off his sensational turn in The Night Manager – Oscar-winner Brie Larson (Room), and the always reliable presence of Samuel L Jackson and John Goodman, seem to have more stress battling the terribly clunky and stereotypical by-the-numbers script, than the massive towering ape.
Even throwing in a couple of up-and-coming stars from last year’s breakout hit Straight Outta Compton – Corey ‘Dr Dre’ Hawkins and Jason ‘Eazy-E’ Mitchell – doesn’t really break the storyline monotony, and it’s left to veteran John C Reilly (the voice of Wreck-It Ralph) to fly the ‘human’ flag by providing the film with its sometimes much needed comic relief.
On the massive plus side though, the special effects – headlined by tremendous monster-bashing battles – are simply breathtaking, and that – coupled with some fantastic death scenes – is generally the only real reason to see this (along with Reilly of course), but fortunately that is just about enough to keep your attention.
This fourth major incarnation of Kong – after the 1933, 1976 and 2005 versions – forgoes the famous love story/Empire State Building plotline, in favour of a 1973-set scenario which sees a bunch of explorers – Hiddleston’s mercenary Conrad and Larson’s photojournalist Weaver, scientists – Goodman’s expedition leader Randa and Hawkin’s right hand man Brooks – and soldiers, led by Samuel L Jackson’s battle-hungry Colonel Packard, venture to an uncharted island in the South Pacific.
Unaware they are crossing into the domain of some terrifying prehistoric creatures, they soon realise the over-sized monkey – who gives them an explosive welcome – isn’t the only species battling for dominance in this mysterious hidden world, with giant spider and squid-like monsters inhabiting the island, along with a frightening breed of apex predators, called the Skull Crawlers.
Despite the scripting not being up to scratch, and the excellent cast being nowhere near used to their potential, this still just about does enough to lay the foundations for a potentially exciting crossover with Godzilla – which started with the 2014 reboot – being earmarked for 2020, and there’s enough monster madness to pull it through.
Kong is by far the most impressive thing about it – being roughly three times bigger than Peter Jackson’s version with a size more akin to the classic original – and his presence is maybe all this new franchise needs to move forward.
But generally speaking there’s a distinct lack of ingenuity which makes you feel there was a missed opportunity here to make something really special – to really make Kong king again – and that’s a bit of a shame.
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Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L Jackson, John C Reilly, John Goodman, Brie Larson, Corey Hawkins, Toby Kebbell, John Ortiz, Shea Whigham, Jason Mitchell, Tian Jing, Marc Evan Jackson, Richard Jenkins & Terry Notary
Running Time: 1 Hr 58 Mins
Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
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