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Wednesday 16 August 2017

Tom Hiddleston fails to convince in Kong: Skull Island - review

Brie Larson is among the stars of Kong: Skull Island
Brie Larson is among the stars of Kong: Skull Island

Classic movie monster King Kong is back in the action adventure Kong: Skull Island, starring Tom Hiddleston.

The Press Association's film and DVD editor Damon Smith gives his view on the upcoming film:

Mankind tumbles several links down the food chain in Kong: Skull Island, a rollicking 1970s-set action adventure directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, which revives one of cinema's iconic monsters.

Unfolding predominately on a Pacific island where "God did not finish creation", the picture unleashes a menagerie of hulking beasts as well as the titular ape and contrives a series of digitally rendered showdowns between these leviathans of a lost world.

Kong's briskly edited ding-dongs ping-pong between the spectacular and the dizzying, choreographed to the relentless beat of Henry Jackman's bombastic orchestral score.

Bill Randa (John Goodman) spearheads a secretive government organisation called Monarch, which specialises "in the hunt for massive unidentified terrestrial organisms".

He leads an exploratory geological survey to a Pacific island, which is encircled by an electrical storm, and sequesters Preston Packard (Jackson) from Da Nang airbase to fly the mission.

Passengers include tracker James Conrad (Hiddleston), anti-war photojournalist Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), geologist Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) and biologist San Lin (Tian Jing).

The sonic weapons rouse a giant ape and the best-laid plans of men of science are smashed to smithereens.

Crash-landed on the island, survivors encounter a crazed US airman called Hank Marlow (John C Reilly), who has been living wild for 28 years and 11 months since his aircraft was downed during the Second World War.

"Kong is king around here," confirms Marlow and he joins the race against time to reach the extraction point.

Kong: Skull Island angrily flexes its muscles, but punches below its weight.

In moments of calm, character development is given disappointingly short shrift and cast including Oscar winner Larson are squandered in bland roles.

Hiddleston is unconvincing as a former British soldier, hired to lead the otherworldly expedition, and his swaggering hunk's centrepiece action sequence involving a samurai sword and gas mask is superfluous and almost laughable in its execution.

A brief coda, nestled in the end credits, teases the head-on collision of monster franchises in next year's Godzilla: King Of The Monsters and the full-blown rumble Godzilla Vs Kong in summer 2020.

:: Kong: Skull Island is released in cinemas on March 9.

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