THE second film in Legendary’s ‘monsters’ film universe, the first of which being 2014’s Godzilla, sees the return to the big screen of King Kong.
The film, set in the 1970’s, has John Goodman’s Bill Randa, head of government organisation Monarch – who’s main objective is to seek out monsters – leading a team of scientists and soldiers to Skull Island in search of such a thing.
Leading the military presence in the team is Samuel L Jackson’s Preston Packard with Tom Hiddleston playing ex Special Service Captain James Conrad, who is hired as a hunter and Brie Larson plays peace-activist and photojournalist Mason Weaver.
The set-up, a few groups of people, each with different agendas could have made for an interesting conflict, but it’s never really explored in the film and pretty much every character has two-dimensional motives solely there to drive the plot forward. Jackson’s Packard is a clichéd character with the sole motivation of killing Kong for generic plot reasons as is Goodman’s Randa. Both are fine in their roles but with actors of that calibre it’s a shame they’re not given something interesting to do.
Hiddleston’s Conrad is also, just fine. He doesn’t do an awful lot and it’s hard to see why he’s there at all and the same can be said of Larson’s Weaver who has an incredibly superficial relationship with Kong that comes completely out of the blue. There’s really no character work and coming out of the film, I found it difficult to recall any meaningful dialogue or character interactions. It’s a very superficial film.
The backstory of Kong with the natives on the island was an enjoyable aspect but, like with most of the other characters, I didn’t feel like Kong was a character in his own right. No time was given to building him into a creature that we cared about.
This all being said, the introduction of John C Riley is the catalyst for the film to become a fair amount of fun. He plays pilot Hank Marlow, who crash landed on the island in WWII and has been stranded there ever since. He’s such a fun character and he brings all of the warmth and heart to the film. He’s funny and he’s the only character that the audience can really connect to because he’s the only one given any character work.
Visually, this film is spectacular. The CGI behind Kong and the other monsters is fantastic. There are some beautiful shots of the island and Kong with some sunset shots inspired by Apocalypse Now. The action scenes are generally very good and mostly enjoyable but lack anything particularly memorable.
AVERAGE. A forgettable affair but mostly fun, almost solely thanks to John C. Riley
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