Cert 12A 118mins Stars 2

British heartthrob Tom Hiddleston, has a passionless encounter with Hollywood’s biggest swinger, in this fruitless jungle romp.

The high profile star with great hair and glad eye for the ladies has been rampaging through cinema for eighty years. King Kong, that is, not the posh Brit actor from TV’s The Night Manager.

It’s 1973. Hiddleston plays a former RAF officer hired for his tracking skills. Alongside scientists and Vietnam war-hardened soldiers, Captain Conrad flies off to the mysterious Skull Island.

When Kong attacks their helicopters, the few survivors have a two day trek across the island to the rescue rendezvous. They must fight a series of giant critters on the way. As there’s only one of each species, the island feels strangely underpopulated.

The local tribe of transcendental woodworking communists are a photogenic afterthought.

A portable – if unfathomably durable – record player, survives. This enables the director to squeeze in far too many of his favourite songs from the era.

It’s beautifully photographed, the locations are epic, the creature design spot on and the cast features stalwarts of the calibre of Samuel L. Jackson and John Goodman. But the script is terrible.

John C. Reilly appears as a US airman, stuck on the island since 1944. His larky performance succeeds in bringing the humour, which elsewhere is absent or fails to work.

Gorgeous sunsets are everywhere, ape-ing the high maintenance vacuity of an aftershave advert. When Conrad shares an almost romantic moment with Brie Larson’s war photographer, it’s in front of a glorious aurora. This doesn’t begin to compensate for their absolute lack of chemistry.

Wafer-thin characterisation is the norm, and not just of the humans. The filmmakers have little interest in their biggest star.

Never has any version of Kong lacked such personality. Going full frontal demonstrates how the once proud King of the jungle has been neutered. And he’s just like this beautiful but sexless film, all fur coat and no bollocks.




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