Its been 12 years since the last Kong movie (which is like 1000 years in Hollywood’s remake/reboot happy world) so now the world is given Kong: Skull Island. And as Kong is due to battle Godzilla in 2019 Godzilla vs Kong, this Kong is bigger than we have ever seen him before. But does bigger ultimately equal better?
As the Vietnam war is coming to an end a group of scientists, soldiers and (somehow) a photojournalist are sent on a secret journey to a mysterious island. When they get there they are quickly met by a gigantic ape (guess who!) and he is not pleased to see them. However Kong is the least of the problems as the island is full of many dangerous creatures that may prevent them from ever leaving Skull island.
Considering I was not particularly bothered by another King Kong movie Kong:Skull Island is way more fun then it has any right to be. Unlike 2012’s Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island has a lighter tone allowing some laughs to come in and makes sure we see plenty of Kong from the off. This newer, bigger Kong looks great thanks to the special effects with much attention made to small details such as the palm of his hands that really works. The various creatures are also respectively cool and/or creepy. Those who have arachnophobia like me should watch out for the giant spider scene!
The human characters are perhaps not as engaging as they should be considering the talent involved but neither are they such a drag that you’re hoping the islands inhabitants would east them already. Maybe cutting a few characters out would have helped give the film more focused. Also a little more depth should have gone into Tom Hiddlestone and Brie Larson’s characters to really make them stand out, but I’m mostly relieved that Larson has broken the best actress Oscar winners curse of following a win with a dreadful genre movie (Halle Berry and Charlize Theron, I’m looking at you). The most memorable character is John C. Reilly’s former soldier whose been stuck on the island since the 40’s and may have lost some of his marbles but provides a lot of the movie’s humour.
The move away from the 30s setting to the 70s setting is a risk that pays off as we’re viewing Kong in a new way and through the eyes of characters who’ve seen the horror of the second world war and the Vietnam war. The movie tries to draw more parallel and references between these experiences which is not always successful but at least it tries something different. Its more successful as an entertaining action/monster movie than when it takes itself too seriously.
Rating 3.5/5 – not a classic but a fun monster mash adventure for a night at the cinema
Paris is a wonderful, cultured city and in Woody Allen’s 2011 film it’s literally magical.
Screenwriter Gil (Owen Wilson) and his fiance Inez (Rachel McAdams) are on holiday in Paris with Inez’s family. When Gil goes for a walk around Paris at midnight he finds himself back in 1920’s Paris meeting novelists and other creative figures from the era. Soon Gill is taking nightly walks back into the 1920’s while Inez’s family grow infuriated with Gil’s secrecy.
The film is about nostalgia and living in the past. Wilson’s Gill enjoys the 1920’s so much he might miss out on what is happening in his present, and right under his nose. Yet it’s easy to see why he’s so enamoured by the past where he’s viewing the creativity and passion of those around him. Compared to his successful but dreary life as a Hollywood screenwriter he feels inspired by their presence of such figures from the past with such creative freedom. The premise also gives plenty of opportunities for cameos for such figures as F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston) and Gertrude Sten (Kathy Bates). There’s also another great supporting turn from Michael Sheen as the condescending friend of Inez.
On the downside this film is probably best enjoyed if you know your 1920’s writers and artists. Some of the figures I recognised but some of the in-jokes flew right over my head. It may find itself alienating some viewers. Also I know Inez and Gil are meant to be a couple that are obviously unsuitable for each other but they have such different opinions on everything that it’s hard to believe they would have been a couple in the first place. Inez’s parents also come across as caricatures rather than real characters.
What holds this film together is Owen Wilson, he makes a likable lead that is perhaps a bit too obsessed with the past. He makes it easy for us to believe in the set-up and to enjoy the film in general. It’s a gentle and pleasing movie that isn’t too demanding on your time or your mind.
Rating 3/5 – Charming and easy watching but not necessarily essential viewing.
Marvel’s second film of the year, is the much anticipated sequal to 2011’s Thor. That film made Hollywood stars out of Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston. Can this film hold the same magic?
A year on from the events of The Avengers and events conspire to bring Asgardian Thor and human scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) together again. When the new villians the dark elves have a plan to destroy the world Thor is forced to team up with Asgard’s latest prisoner, his brother Loki (Hiddleston).
At first the signs seemed troubling. It’s such a slow start you wonder if the magic of Thor left with its previous director Kenneth Brannagh. The dark Elves are sleep inducingly dull and it looks like most of the film will be set in Asgard-it doesn’t look promising. However such fears are pushed aside after the story kicks up a gear, bringing Jane into Thor’s world is a fanatstic idea, and it’s interesting that that she adapts to Asgard quicker than Thor did to Earth.
Although the title has ‘dark’ in the title and indeed there is more at stake in this follow up than the last one, the filmakers haven’t forgotten to bring the fun back for the sequel.
As you’d expect Hiddleston is brilliant as Loki, the sarcastic, conniving brother of Thor, always one step ahead with always a Plan B in place. He is a great foil to Thor, his deviousness and trickery clashing with Thor’s physical strength and compassion. It’s also great that the -well deserved- popularity of Loki (and Hiddleston) doesn’t overwhelmed the film. This is still Thor’s movie. Hemsworth is more confident everytime he steps into Thor’s amour and it’s great to see the character development continue from the first film. Consider Thor’s actions from the beginning of the first film to the end of this movie, it’s a nice little journey to watch the character go on. I was also glad to see the return of Jane’s team with Darcy (Kat Dennings)and Erik (Stellan Skarsgard) providing a lot of the laughs, and also, along with Jane, proving their worth in the field when needed.
Unlike Man of Steel which clearly ran out of steam before the last battle scenes, the climactic fight in Thor is fantsastic. Director Alan Taylor is confident enough to seemlessly flow from dramatic action to high comedic moments, indeed some of the film’s funniest jokes are placed right in the middle of the fights, not many films are brave enough to do that-or do it so well.
Rating: 4/5- don’t be put off by the slow start, Thor is back to show why he’s the number one ‘god’ in the Marvel Universe