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!!! 

Don’t Breathe (2016) 

Director: Fed Alverez  

Running Time: 87 minutes. 

Cast: Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto. 

I actually went to see this film because I thought Sam Raimi directed it but in fact he only produced. He did however get Jane Levy from the Evil Dead remake in it and it was directed by the director of Evil Dead also. Jane plays one of three burglars, along with Dylan Minnette, most recently from Goosebumps and Daniel Zovatto, who break into a blind mans house for one last score. But sadly for them, the tenant is a blind war veteran. They see it as an easy grab but they didn’t account for this guy, played by Avatar’s Stephen Lang, being basically a blind Rambo with a secret. Slightly reminiscent of 10 Cloverfield Lane due to the small enclosed innards of the one address and had me wondering ‘is this a reverse Home Alone?’. 

It’s a roller coaster ride of tension with the blind man is like a replacement for the usual Horror monster. It eventually settles into a routine of one thing after another In quick succession which started to take me out of the reality of the situation. There were too many man sized crawl spaces in the walls and the ‘Cujo’ ripoff was something I would’ve left out. Even with these trips though it’s still a taut thriller which never lets up and does have a shock scene which will have girls crossing their legs just like the original Evil Dead did. Personally I wouldn’t class it as a horror at all but there are a couple of jump scares to start things off. More of a DVD film than a cinema trip out. 

C Whitehouse 2016

The Purge: Election Year (2016) 

Director: James DeMonaco

Running time: 1 hr 46mins 

Cast: Frank Griilo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Myketti Williamson, Joseph Soria, Terry Serpico. 

Frank Grillo stars yet again as Leo who is now head of security for a senator played by Lost’s Elizabeth Mitchell. It just so happens that this is the first year that nobody is exempt from the purge so security is heightened. For those who didn’t know, the purge is an annual day where killing is legalised for twelve hours so that society can let off steam. It sounded ludicrous for the first film but I’ve grown accepting of it. Naturally things go bad and Frank and the senator end up on the streets. Come on, that’s not a spoiler, it would be rubbish if that didn’t happen. Also making an appearance is Bubba from Forest Gump, Myketti Williamson who runs a store and gets dragged into the conflicts. This time we have a baddie who is fashioned on some sort of nazi thug and to be honest she doesn’t get enough screen time. Outside of the protecting the senator thread we get further glimpses of the gangs on the streets and there tactics on the streets. The whole political angle wasn’t exactly where I wanted things to go for film three but I’ll take it. It’s true that this is the weakest one to date but I still feel it keeps its head above water. There’s blood and fighting and a cult of sorts so what more do you need for a good purge? 

C Whitehouse 2016

The BFG (2016) film review 

Director: Stephen Spielberg 

Running time : 2 hours. 

Cast: Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton , Rebecca Hall, Rafe Spall. 

 If I didn’t already know that this version was directed by Stephen Spielberg, then I’d have struggled to tell. His finger prints are maybe on some shot framing on a scene or two but outside of that I’d say this could’ve been anyone. The Big Friendly Giant himself, played by Mark Rylance, is recognisable in the face as the actor himself and the effects are done in a way which is reminiscent of the Robert Zemeckis’s A Christmas Carol from 2009. To be honest I expected a much more cutting edge CGI which I may struggle to believe was CGI at all. Sure it’s very good but when you see Ruby Barnhill playing young Sophie it high lit the gap between real and unreal for me. Sophie as a character and the BFG also surprised me because I didn’t wholly like either of them. Sophie seemed like a little brat with a chip on her shoulder. The source book is pretty simplistic in its story telling and that was felt on the film as long over running scenes such as meeting (person omitted) stretched my patients and that of my son. With so few things happening in general I kind of lost interest in parts.  

The opening stealth skills of the BFG showed skill and imagination but these moments faded out eventually. Although the scenes were shot looking like they could happen in the Harry Potter universe, there was little else in common with that much better family outing. When you realise you are enjoying the villains more than the heroes then you know you’re not properly invested. 

I left a little let down to be honest but there’s just enough to get you through till the end. 

CWhitehouse 2016

Marley (2012) 

Director: Kevin Macdonald 

Running Time: 2 hours 24 minutes 
Whenever I here a song by Bob Marley, one thing comes to mind. Turn it off. But I must also state that I don’t dislike anything about it either. It just barely registers as music to my ears and is instantly forgotten. 
I have never had cause to find out about the man who was Bob Marley because I’m not political and our paths never crossed. 
But what I do like is watching a programme or a documentary about something which I know nothing about and learning something. 
I find most documentaries about musicians or people who are creative very enjoyable and generally inspirational. So because this film was out at the cinema I made myself go. 
I was glad that I did. Kevin Macdonald who had previously directed ‘The Last King Of Scotland’ and ‘Touching The Void’ does a good job with the task of piecing together a progressive collage of a journey from Marley’s days in Trench Town , through his early days and benefit gigs, right up to his death in 1981. There is candid talking heads featuring close family members and band mates and footage from various concerts and interviews. Marley himself is painted as he was in life, totally focused on his cause and an unashamed romantic beneath his shy exterior. 

I was taken in by the film immediately because I love listening to African accents and it taught me a lot about Rastafarianism which I knew nothing about prior to this movie. I came away knowing how Reggae was formed and it’s message of peace between everyone on the planet. The family talk frankly about the events which clouded their enjoyment sometimes whilst on tour with this small man who had a large persona. 
It also documents an operation on his toe that seems inconsequential to begin with but becomes important later on. 
The film was surprisingly long I felt, as a non reggae fan especially. The music went through me and was forgotten the instant the credits rolled. I am not a new fan of the music but I have a huge amount of respect for the man himself. I will never hear his music again without thinking good of him and his cause. 
This was a pleasure that I am really glad I watched. So if you like Bob Marley and his music then you should love this.

C Whitehouse 2016 

The Lady In The Van (2015)

Director: Nicholas Hytner
Running time: 1 hour 44 mins 

Cast: Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings, Jim Broadbent 

I would say this film is a delightful portrayal of an incident which was supposed to last a short period but escalated for years. Alan Bennett, played brilliantly by Alex Jennings takes pity of ‘Miss Sheperd, also played brilliantly by Maggie Smith, who is a bag lady but owner of a van, who bothers a street in Camden where Bennett lives. Rather than being a good deed doer, Bennett’s offer to let the lady park in his driveway is in fact to stop her getting in the way of his writing. 

Yes, that relationship, if that’s what you can call it, is fractured and amusing but really I more enjoyed the ‘other’ Alan who is his writer self, who is also portrayed on screen by the same actor. He talks to his other self as an inner voice personified. It’s engaging and light hearted but there’s the sense of sadness in the lady’s past as we uncover and piece together a surprising past. 

I really enjoyed this little film and enjoyed my first dip into the world of Bennett.
C Whitehouse