If – like me – you enjoyed the 2014 Godzilla reboot, you’ve probably been looking forward Kong: Skull Island for quite some time.
There’s just something great, especially on the big screen, about seeing a giant monster wreak havoc in an enjoyable environment.
Skull Island certainly delivers on both fronts, with the new super-sizing of Kong – who is probably bigger than the Empire State Building in his new form – a move that I really enjoyed.
It’s no secret that the film is set in the same cinematic universe as Godzilla, so you’ll perhaps not be too surprised that there are some clear similarities between the two monster reboots.
However, the chief difference is that Kong is set at the end of the Vietnam war in 1973 (as opposed to Godzilla’s modern day setting).
Monarch, the same corporation that was in Godzilla, find evidence of the existence of the mythical Skull Island, a setting said to be as dangerous and mysterious as the Bermuda Triangle.
Fronted up by Bill Randa (John Goodman) and Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins), Monarch are given government funding for an expedition to the island – but their request for a military escort would suggest they know more about the setting than they’re letting on.
They are joined by Samuel L Jackson’s Colonel Packard and a squad that includes Cole (Shea Whigham), Mills (Jason Mitchell), Slivko (Thomas Mann) and Jack (Toby Kebbell), while anti-war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) and former British SAS tracker captain James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) are also recruited.
As you’ve no doubt seen from the trailers, the mission doesn’t go well. By dropping seismic charges on the island, they anger Kong – who savagely takes down their helicopters in the film’s standout sequence.
Those that survive Kong’s wrath must make their way across the island in a bid to find a transport home.
But what they discover is that Kong is (like Godzilla) something of an anti-hero, as he wages war against brutal creatures dubbed “skull crawlers” which live underground and harm the island’s inhabitants.
These lizard-like beasts are just as scary as Kong himself and help create some brutal action scenes.
Accompanied by a 1970s rock soundtrack, Skull Island succeeds because it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Kong is obviously the main draw here – and I’m a fan of his new look. Seeing his home is something fresh for cinema too, with the exotic Skull Island feeling quite like Jurassic Park’s Isla Nublar.
The cast is also strong and pretty well-loaded. Because of that, some of the deaths do feel quite cheap – with members of the main cast regularly dispatched at will.
Larson and Hiddlestone are both on good form, while Jackson and Goodman do what they always do – deliver stand-out showings.
It’s also worth noting that John C Reilly is excellent in a role that I’ll not go too far into, bringing the comic relief in abundance.
Skull Island is fun and looks great – making it easy to recommend.
And, with Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah (plus further Godzilla and Kong films) on the horizon in the coming years, there’s certainly plenty of reason to be optimistic about this ‘monsterverse’ moving forward.
Voice Verdict: 8.5/10 (reviewed at Boston West End Cinema)
+ Kong’s HUGE new look
+ Great setting
+ Very strong cast that delivers
+ Exciting new ‘monsterverse’
– Cheap deaths
Boston’s West End Cinema (Fri, Mar 17 to Thurs, Mar 23)
**BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (PG)
2D – 11.20am (Sat/Sun/Wed), 2.15pm (Fri/Sat/Sun/Wed), 5.30pm (daily), 8.40pm (daily)
3D – 10am (Sat/Sun), 1pm (Sat/Sun/Wed), 4pm (daily), 7.15pm (daily)
**GET OUT (15)
6pm (daily), 8.25pm (daily)
PO PROSTU PRZYJAZN (15)
KONG: SKULL ISLAND (12A)
2D – 10am (Sun), 3pm (daily), 8.20pm (daily) 3D – 12.20pm (Sat/Sun/Wed), 5.40pm (daily)
2.30pm (Fri/Sat/Sun/Wed), 5.30pm (not Tues), 8.25pm (not Sun)
VICEROYS HOUSE (12A)
1pm (Fri), 3.30pm (not Sun)
LEGO BATMAN MOVIE (U)
2D – 12.40pm (Sat/Sun)
2D – 10am (Sat), 12.15pm (Sun)
Sat/Sun 10.15am – Kubo and the Two Strings 2D (PG)
Wed 11.30am – Viceroy’s House (12A)
Tuesday – 4pm Kong: Skull Island 2D (12A)
**BOLSHOI BALLET: A CONTEMPORARY EVENING
**EXHIBITION ON SCREEN – THE ARTISTS GARDEN
**FREE LIST SUSPENDED