There have been so many film versions of King Kong, it’s hard keeping track. Since the giant beast appeared on screens in 1933, it has captured the hearts of movie-goers. It has also grabbed the imagination of film-makers who have constantly re-interpreted the story every decade since. The last big-screen effort was Peter Jackson’s version in 2005. Now in an era where studios are desperate for franchises, ‘Kong: Skull Island’ sees the ape attempt to rake in box office dollars with every chest-thumping roar.
In 1973 a secret organisation known as Monarch hear of a mysterious island. Amongst are Jack (Tom Hiddleston), Preston (Samuel L Jackson) and William (John Goodman). Upon arrival they are startled to discover an island overrun by pre-historic creatures and a giant ape named Kong. Marvelling at the new species, the group become unwittingly trapped in a battle for beastly superiority. With their lives at stake, they attempt to join forces with Kong to ensure they don’t become the latest victims of the treacherous island.
‘Kong: Skull Island’ is a bland and superficial exercise in franchise-building. Stock-standard characters with miniscule personal development, spectacular CGI and a ton of well executed action scenes result in a mostly ho-hum entry. The only performers who appear engaged in their roles are Jackson and John C Reilly who plays a long-time island inhabitant. The rest are good-looking archetypes seen elsewhere with a blandness making a block of wood look animated.
Apart from those two actors, the only saving graces ‘Kong: Skull Island’ has are the CGI and imaginative fight sequences. You can tell money was well spent creating a new Kong for a new era and the beast looks suitably mighty. Other creatures are fierce-looking as well, having the right amount of deadly menace needed. Sadly the predictably clichéd story brings down any wonder and awe viewers should feel. Humour is used too much while the drama doesn’t work due to poor characters and weak direction.
If you like run of the mill action spectacles, then ‘Kong: Skull Island’ is for you. Your brain cells won’t get a work-out but your eye-balls will be assaulted by wondrous on-screen visions. Whether it creates the hoped for franchise remains to be seen with the box office Kong’s main gargantuan threat.
Movie Review Rating out of 10: 4
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
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Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.