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Kong: Skull Island (3D)


Stars: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L Jackson, John C Reilly, Brie Larson, John Goodman, Toby Kebbell, Shea Whigham, Corey Hawkins, John Ortiz

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Monster-movie fans should be pretty happy with this impressively-staged visit to Skull Island, where mighty anthropoid Kong rules the roost over both the natives and other giant prehistoric animals who live there.

This expedition, in search of 'massive unidentified terrestrial organisms', takes place in 1973, after the previously uncharted island in the Pacific, surrounded by storms, is discovered on satellite photos.

Headed by Randa (Goodman), the party, guarded initially by a platoon of soldiers aboard a dozen helicopters (all of which are demolished by Kong in the opening action sequence), includes a tracker (Hiddleston, whose posh accent is a little distracting here), a female photo-journalist (Larsen) inevitably in tight top, and a psycho military leader, compellingly played by Jackson with a maniacal gleam in his eyes.

En route to a rescue point, via an encounter with a very icky giant spider, the much depleted party meets a Ben Gunn-like US soldier (Reilly, bringing much-needed life to the film) who's been stranded on the island since 1944. He warns them that there are far worse monsters - 'skull-crawlers' as he calls them - lurking underground, which Jackson, in his obsessive efforts to wipe out Kong, soon unwittingly unleashes.

There's everything you'd expect from a Kong movie here, including a brooding, Apocalypse Now-style atmosphere, a final battle between Kong and the king of the underground lizard monsters and a tender bond between Larsen and Kong that works well enough, even if we've seen it before.

Subtlety? You're looking at the wrong film. Enjoy this for what it is. It's a monster movie, guys: get with the programme. There's a scene at the very end that promises us more traditional monsters in a sequel, but you have to sit through seven minutes of credits to get to it.

David Quinlan

USA/Australia/Vietnam/India 2017. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Colour by FotoKem.
119 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 07 Mar 2017