FILM REVIEW | Kong makes a giant return

Big cast: Thomas Mann, John Goodman, John C. Reilly, Brie Larson, Jason Mitchell, Tom Hiddleston and Eugene Cordero in Kong: Skull Island, rated M and in cinemas now.
Big cast: Thomas Mann, John Goodman, John C. Reilly, Brie Larson, Jason Mitchell, Tom Hiddleston and Eugene Cordero in Kong: Skull Island, rated M and in cinemas now.

A staple of Old Hollywood, monster movies are a harder sell today.

A stop-motion dinosaur is just not going to cut it, the mere spectacle of seeing a mythical beast on the big screen is not enough to carry an entire film, as it once was.

Rivalled only by Godzilla in movie monster folklore, King Kong has had his fair share of silver screen incarnations.

From the original in 1933 up to Peter Jackson’s CGI-heavy marathon of a film in 2005, the giant ape has spent a lot of time entertaining audiences.

But, in Kong: Skull Island, the beast is back and he’s sure making an impact.

Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts has taken the action out of the 1930s into the 1970s, at the end of the Vietnam War.

The time change makes all the difference in the world.

Kong: Skull Island is more in line with Apocalypse Now – as anyone who has seen the poster would have predicted – than throwback adventures like The Mummy.

It’s soundtracked to ’70s rock icons like Creedence Clearwater Revival and Black Sabbath, which goes a huge way to setting the tone.

And audiences who might be expecting to wait at least an hour and a half to see the main attraction will be in for a shock – Kong is on the screen within a couple of minutes.

This time around we follow an army helicopter division helping a research crew get to the storm-surrounded Skull Island, with anti-war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) and British tracker James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) in tow.

Samuel L. Jackson plays Preston Packard, the leader of the army division, disillusioned by war and desperate for something to fight for.

His character archetype will again be familiar to anyone who has seen Apocalypse Now.

It’s straight into the action on the island, with Kong not taking too kindly to trespassers on his land.

Like the 2005 film, the effects in this movie are top-notch. Kong is a beast to behold and a larger incarnation than we’ve ever seen before.

There are also plenty of other giant critters inhabiting the island which make for thoroughly entertaining action set-pieces.

Monster movies might seem outdated in 2017 but Kong: Skull Island is way better than it has a right to be.