Kong: Skull Island(or Apocalypse Park) 

Let me start with saying that I’m not a big King Kong fan. I really don’t care about the black and white original and although I reasonably enjoyed the overlong Peter Jackson (2005) version, it made little lasting impact on me. He’s just a Gorilla… but bigger. I have the same issue with Godzilla except I put Godzilla above Kong due to the fact he’s a monster and that makes him cooler. 
The opening scene of Kong: Skull Island caught me off guard. Even my son asked ‘is this the film?’ . 

We see Kong in these first few minutes rather than the drip feed of the usual monster kind. It’s breathtaking in its delivery and you soon realise this is a fresh approach to an old idea. 
It takes a very Jurassic Park approach, with John Goodman as a kind of John Hammond character who gets helecoptered on by soldier Samuel L Jackson who himself plays Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now during the Vietnam war. That’s how much of a fresh mix it is. 

The wonderful Brie Larson is a photographer -(Julianne Moore in Jurassic Park 2 a-like) who is brought along to document whatever the hell is making ships and planes go missing on this mysterious island which by the way, is surrounded by a perpetual storm of ferocious intent. 

There are other incidental characters filling out the soldiers outfit but they are filler for the lead actor. That being Tom Hiddleston. In a King Kong movie? Are you sure? 
Well yes, since this is directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts who directed Kings Of Summer, which is great by the way. 

There’s so many directorial choices such as slow motion and audio silences plus snazzily written location titles in between scenes. It all looks so fresh. 

But Kong himself isn’t all that lurks on the island. There are some wonderful other giant bugs and oddities which even best Avatar in their amazingness. The huge beasts are an amazing sight for cast and audience alike. 

That’s not all. There’s an islander played by John C Reilly who is nutty due to being (sort of) alone for ‘some’ time. 

This whole concoction makes for a feast of entertainment which blew my socks off. 
But! And it’s only fair to explain this. I did think to myself on many occasions “it’s like a Michael Bay Kong movie!”. 

That is a very divisive statement. 

I enjoy dumb loud films such as Transformers and Battleship and that kind of thing, but for many, that is awful. 

But I advise you to go see Kong:Skull Island and see if it’s possible to watch the POST CREDIT SCENE and not tremble with excitement!!! 

Jack Reacher 2 (2016) 

Director: Edward Zwick

Running time: 2 hours 

Cast: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Danika Yarosh. 

Lee Child’s Reacher novels do great business and even enjoy success in their fans re reading them over and over. The casting of shorty Tom Cruise playing the six foot odd tall behemoth didn’t effect my enjoyment at all since Cruise manages to play Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible really well without anyone called him tiny. Jack Reacher is slightly different to Hunt in that he is much more willing to keep his mental calculations of a situation low key. We see Reacher surrounded by thugs in an alley and he’s already predicted how the fight is likely to play out. This is similar to Sherlocks mind games but here it’s sepia toned so we understand his thoughts first rather than deeds. 

Reacher is pulled back into his past military band of brothers as a female major is suddenly thrown in jail and he smells a rat. Plus he has the additional headache of a teenage girl whose mother is claiming he is the father. 

This felt much closer to the book version as it showed more psychological mechanics than fisty cuffs , although bones do get broken along the way even after the owners are given an option to change their mind on attacking. 

I enjoyed this movie along with the first one and I liked the additional look into his mind and his emotions once the teenager appears. Action wise we have an assassin type of bad guy who is paid to silence Jack but naturally that is no easy scheme and one which results in a fight. I’ll happily watch a bunch of other sequels as long as Cruise is up for it. 

C Whitehouse 

Star Trek Beyond (2016) film review 

Director: Justin Lin

Running time: 2 hours. 

Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urben, Zoe Salanda, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba. 

This rebooted Star Trek franchise has finally done the thing which it secretly hoped to do, that is make me me think “maybe I should go back and watch some of the tv series”. The new cast now fell bedded in and oddly Chris Pine now sounds more Shatner than ever. I’m a sucker for a scene where we get to observe what an alien metropolis functions like and recently I got his same thing in Guardians Of The Galaxy, Elysium and now this. This delivers on the different alien environment front and also plays it right down the formulaic route of ‘chase the maguffin’ while evolving the team dynamic. The story follows a Marvel movies direction of baddie wants some thing you have and they need outsmarting. In a way it’s stuck in a box when it’s enemies all look Klingon and your teleporting out of certain death scenarios but other than that I still enjoyed the interplay between the crew a lot. Certain scenes had shaky cam and too fast fighting which left me staring at blurring images which I didn’t follow but others had well paced enjoyable action pieces which I could relish in. I do wish it would put down its nostalgia for the original series’ cast though. 

I really buy into the Spock/Kirk friendship these days and tha is played upon here even as new bad guy Krall throws obstacles at the guys. Idris Elba was unrecognisable to me until half way in under all the prosthetics but once I realised it was him, it was obvious. A colourful and action packed space adventure which was just what I wanted. 

I’m still not a Trekker but I will dig deeper. 

C Whitehouse 2016