Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Kong: Skull Island (4 Stars)

This is the third remake of the 1933 film "King Kong". Was it necessary? That depends on the way you look at it. Peter Jackson's version, made in 2005, was such a towering cinematic achievement that it could never be equalled in quality, let alone surpassed. However, Warner Bros wants to make a film about a battle between Godzilla and King Kong, maybe followed by battles with other monsters, which would be difficult, considering that the 2005 version ended with King Kong's death. This means it was necessary for "King Kong" to be remade yet again, this time leaving the giant monkey alive.

It's obvious the film was intended to be a blockbuster. Several big stars were thrown into it, enough to attract any film goer. If I have to list the film's strong points, that's the biggest advantage. Samuel L. Jackson puts on an epic performance as the army colonel with a madness akin to Captain Ahab, driven by revenge. I can't remember when I was so impressed by him. John C. Reilly has never been one of my favourite actors, but he wowed me in his role as the abandoned US pilot. John Goodman also impressed me as the seasoned scientist. Tom Hiddleston is just Tom Hiddleston, he can't do a thing wrong. Those four actors carried the film for me. In comparison, Brie Larson was dull, maybe because I was comparing her with Naomi Watts. Jing Tian is one of my favourite actresses, but she was underused, spending too much time in the background. I hope we'll see more of her in the sequel.

Unfortunately, the film is less than the sum of its parts. It was let down by the silly story, which was little more than a last-man-standing yarn, in which all the minor characters were killed one by one while the major characters miraculously avoided death. In previous versions the other monsters on the island were an assortment of dinosaurs, but in "Kong: Skull Island" they're weird looking lizards and birds, plus a walking tree. I expected stunning special effects, but I was surprised to see that despite the advances in computer wizardry over the last 12 years the special effects aren't as good as in Peter Jackson's film.

"Kong: Skull Island" isn't a bad film, and it's better than the 1976 version, but it falls way behind the quality of the other two versions.

I almost forgot to mention the music. The film is set in 1972, so the music is all taken from the early 1970's. A lot of the music isn't just incidental music, it's music that's being played on a portable record player that the soldiers are carrying with them. To me the music was more thrilling than the film itself. When Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" began I couldn't control myself, I had to sing along with Ozzy. Not loud enough to disturb the other cinema guests, of course.

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