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Kong - Skull Island: Ape tale crashes and burns

By Damon Smith

Bill Randa (John Goodman) spearheads a secretive government organisation called Monarch, which specialises "in the hunt for massive unidentified terrestrial organisms".

He leads an exploratory geological survey to a Pacific island, which is encircled by an electrical storm, and sequesters Preston Packard (Samuel L Jackson) from Da Nang airbase to fly the mission.

Packard corrals his best pilots and loads aircraft with sonic bombs to map the island's topography. Passengers include tracker James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), anti-war photojournalist Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), geologist Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) and biologist San Lin (Tian Jing).

The sonic weapons rouse a giant ape and the best-laid plans of men of science are smashed to smithereens. Crash-landed on the island, the survivors encounter a crazed US airman called Hank Marlow (John C Reilly), who has been living wild for 28 years and 11 months since his aircraft was downed during the Second World War. Kong: Skull Island angrily flexes its muscles, but punches below its weight.

In moments of calm, character development is given disappointingly short shrift and the cast, including Oscar winner Larson, are squandered in bland roles.

Two stars

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