Hollywood is a restless and persistent place. As much as I'd like to preserve certain tales in cinematic history, some screen icons keep coming back time and again to grace our screens hoping to finally get the story right.
Kong is one of these. Down the years the king of all beasts has returned in numerous incarnations and time periods hoping for closure or perhaps hoping that finally the story can be well handled. Given the advances in film making, since the ape's humble cinematic inception, this should be no problem in today's world. Given the recent success of depicting apes in the rebooted Planet of the Apes saga it would not be unrealistic to expect Kong to finally be conquered would it?
This version of events takes place in the 70's, just after the conclusion of the Vietnam war. A team of explorers including tracker James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) and trigger happy army man Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) set off to a mysterious, previously unchartered island on the false promise of a standard geological exploration. All too soon it becomes clear that this anything but basic and the intentions of John Goodman's government organisation are proven to be a hunt for something much grander.
Unexplored worlds, giant creatures a trigger happy army commander and the king the cinematic monster should add up to two hours of romping entertainment. It is then with great regret that I have to declare this venture as a terrible knuckle dragging bore!
Most woefully underserved is Brie Larson who, in her role as photographer Mason Weaver, serves little purpose other than occasional photo taking and looking back over her shoulder to be terrified at a CGI monstrosity before making a run for it.
Other flaws become all too clear as the film progresses. The 70s setting has no real significance other than to allow the film makers play some of their favourite periodic pieces with a heavy rotation of needle drops that do little to gloss over the banality. In fact these 70's anthems serve only to remind you of better uses in previous Vietnam war movies.
Certain scenes are visually stunning, the image used above was a particular stand out moment. The CGI is impressive and makes you realise how far we have come. The problem is though that this not a film that intends you to wonder on technological advances. This film wants you to question why we go to war so quickly, who are the true monsters in our world and other minor philosophical points. Sadly it never dwells long enough on the questions to warrant any answers.
Ultimately, the investment in CGI has not been replicated on the story and its characters. It is somewhat ironic that in attempting to get the behemoth of Kong so well rendered, neglecting the story of the humanity around him will be the biggest threat to this cinematic icon returning.
Kong: Skull Island is in cinemas from 9th March.
Thanks to MovieHouse for screening access.