A review of the new film “Kong: Skull Island”

It seems that you can’t keep a giant ape down and this is at least the fourth Kong movie that I’ve seen following the versions of “King Kong” released in 1933, 1976 and 2005. What makes this one different? It channels “Apocalypse Now” big time, setting the action just after the Vietnam War and deploying a group of GIs from that conflict led by a bombastic lieutenant colonel who insists “This is one war we’re not gonna lose” (yeh).

Stupidly they start by carpet bombing Skull Island in the same way that the Americans did Vietnam with the same effect, except that this time it’s not the Vietcong who are enraged but ugly, giant reptiles. I suppose another difference is that special effects have moved on, even in the decade since the last Kong movie, and there are some striking visuals and impressive CGI, but this effort is nowhere near as effective as Peter Jackson’s 2005 blockbuster.

The plot is minimal and the script often dire. Kong appears far too early and is not characterised as well as the three other films. And there is a massive waste of cinematic talent with the likes of John Goodman, John C Reilly, Tom Huddleston and Samuel L Jackson under-utilised and/or under-stretched, no more so than with the one female role where the talents of Brie Larson – recent Academy Award winner for “Room” – are squandered.

If you sit through endless credits, you’ll see a clip which appears to be setting up a sequel in which Kong faces off with Godzilla (apparently in a 2020 release). I won’t be holding my breath …


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