*NEW* KONG: SKULL ISLAND REVIEW *NEW*

One beast of a blockbuster!

A team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden.

From the people who gave you Godzilla . . . Greaaattt.

After watching that shambolic dino turd, I feared the worst for the reboot of yet another iconic movie monster.

BUT thankfully, my poison pen didn’t have too much to write about this time.

The mad opening sequence didn’t give me a chance to get comfortable. It felt like a different movie with two Japanese and American WW2 pilots crash landing on Skull Island and having a fight to the death. Mental.

It wasn’t even two minutes before a gigantic paw from a damn dirty ape came hurtling towards the screen.

I was expecting another drawn out blockbuster with the main attraction teased through out. Oh no! This got down to business.

The pace didn’t mess around. It flicked back and forth. Set up the premise. Introduced the characters and within 30 minutes, they were on the mysterious island being welcomed by a napalm parade and an angry inhabitant.

The soundtrack was on point. The track choices! The Stooges, Black Sabbath, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the list goes on!

The only problem was that the characters were a little wafer thin for my liking. The only memorable performance for me was Samuel L Jackson as the grizzly and disillusioned war vet.

Disappointed at the defeat of the Vietnam War and furious with a new foe disposing of his men.

That square-off with Kong. Brilliant. A blaze of fire separating the two as they stared each other out. Tense.

Tom Hiddleston (Thor) did just enough BUT he was a little too clean cut to play a seasoned mercenary for me. I think somebody like Gerard Butler would have suited the role better.

Brie Larson (Room) did her best with the role of the feisty photographer Mason Weaver. She had good chemistry with Loki but the suggested romance subplot felt forced and hammy.

John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane) and Corey Hawkins (24: Legacy) didn’t do too bad as the scientist duo. It was just a shame that they got pushed into the background as the movie progressed.

I don’t know what Toby Kebbell (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) has done BUT he never gets a break in these big movies. His role was dreadfully dull. And his muddled accent certainly didn’t help.

“That was an unconventional encounter”.

What worked for Kong: Skull Island was that it didn’t take itself too seriously. Godzilla was far too gloomy and dark for its own good.

Plus the bloody thing was only in the movie for 15 minutes! 15 minutes in a two hour movie? Come on!

And how could I say Samuel L was the only memorable character?

John C. Reilly was on scene stealing form as Hank Marlow. The WW2 castaway who spent 30 years on the island.

Now imagine Dale from Step Brothers as a crackpot recluse and you would be bang on the buck. He delivered a much needed comic relief.

The special effects were fantastic. The detail involved with Kong’s movements and expressions were brilliant. Let alone the numerous monster punch ups!

I loved Kong’s introduction. The Apocalypse Now sunset. The giant shadow with the helicopters basking in the dusk. Great shot!

The action was brutal, violent and intense. They really tested that 12A rating. The gore was crazy. Especially when a scientist was picked up by a flock of carnivorous birds. Yikes.

BUT every time I felt my interest wading, there was a bigger and nastier creature ready to attack. Spiders with camouflaged bamboo legs. Giant bloodthirsty dino lizards. Nice.

If this wasn’t a reboot, Skull Island could easily have followed on from Peter Jackson’s King Kong. Well, if they hadn’t killed him.

I went in (yet again) expecting nothing and was rewarded with something so much better . . . Or watchable anyway.

An entertaining creature feature that restored my faith in the monster reboots.

BUT if the writers could flesh out the human element a little more, that would be appreciated.

BUT then again, who are these movies supposed to be about?

3.5/5

*CREDIT WATCH*

For the junkies that love to sit through the credits hoping for tidbits . . . there’s a little cryptic teaser at the end. I thought it was a bit nothingy for the wait BUT I’ll let you be the judges! I don’t think Godzilla fans will be disappointed.

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*NEW* THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN REVIEW *NEW*

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Not that magnificent BUT still worth a watch. Yee-ha!

Seven gun men in the old west gradually come together to help a poor village against savage thieves.

It’s always going to be tough to follow in the footsteps of the iconic 1960 Western classic (When does anything ever beat the original?) BUT thanks to a talented cast and some action packed set pieces, this did just enough to stand on its own two feet.

I was happy to see another Western (NOT penned by Quentin Tarantino) sneak into the busy schedule of endless rom-coms, sci-fi epics and teen blockbusters.

The slow burning opener didn’t build my hopes up. The lacklustre lines, the cliched townspeople, that feeble introduction to a weak and weasley villain Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard – Jarhead). I was reaching for my tomahawk!

BUT thankfully once the mysterious Joe Chisolm wandered into town, my griping was subdued.

I couldn’t think of anybody better to follow in Yul Bryner’s footsteps than Denzel Washington. He was everything you expected. Cool, calculated and somebody you wouldn’t want to mess with.

The initial ‘getting the gang together’ spiel did take a while BUT I didn’t mind watching each member make their introduction into the mix.

Chris Pratt stole the show yet again by being . . . Chris Pratt. He’s no Steve McQueen BUT the card wielding smooth talker delivered enough charm and quick witted one liners to keep things entertaining.

It was good to see Vincent D’Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket) get a meatier role as Jack Horne. If Hodor came from the Deep South, he would probably look like him. “I think that bear’s wearing people clothes”.

Ethan Hawke was brilliant as the decorated veteran Goodnight Robicheaux. I wish more was made out of his partnership with the knife wielding Billy Rocks.

Finally Byung-hun Lee was able to show off those blade skills in something other than a G.I. Joe movie!

The pace dragged like a mule in the desert. BUT once the gang finally warmed up to one another and the uneasy alliance began, I was pleasantly surprised.

The heated tension subsiding into idle banter. Faraday (Pratt) and Vazquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) delivered some of the better exchanges.

I was a little disappointed that the feisty Haley Bennett (Hardcore Henry) was pushed into the background after taking a pivotal role in persuading the men to save the town. BUT this was always going to be about the Seven.

And that was the problem. There were too many characters. Luke Grimes (Fifty Shades of Grey) was completely unnecessary. He brought nothing to the mix. Another cook spoiling the broth.

Martin Sensmeier got lost in the thick of the action after making an impressionable introduction as Red Harvest; the Comanche dispatched on a tribal quest.

Mauro Fiore’s cinematography was breathtaking. He really captured the picturesque landscape. Brilliant.

And one thing can be agreed; Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day/The Equalizer) knows how to deliver a shootout!

The tension was perfectly executed as the gang bumped heads with “the local law enforcement”. Ticking all the boxes for a good ol’ fashioned Western.

I was hoping that Sarsgaard would have been a little stronger. He was such a nothingy villain.

I could get that with an army of a hundred mercenaries and endless wealth that he would be a little cocky BUT every scene he was involved in, he just didn’t do anything for me.

I wasn’t unsettled or hooked. Just bored and wondering what Denzel and that dude from Guardians of the Galaxy were up to?

For those familiar with the original, it stayed very true to the story line (Despite claiming to be a “reboot”). BUT it was still somewhat of a mixed bag.

It delivered enough bang for your buck and really pushed that 12A limit to the max with the violence. The number of flying axes and endless machine gun fodder. The body count was crazy.

BUT with so many characters in play; too many got lost in the mix of endless explosions and casualties, which spoiled things for me.

However, despite a drawn out pace and weak villain, this was still a fun, action packed blockbuster that complimented the original and delivered a thrilling and satisfying finale.

Let’s hope this might trigger a comeback for the Western.

3/5

BIG GAME REVIEW

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BIG, DUMB, LAME?

There’s only one way to find out.

The trailer looked ridiculous. I really had low expectations. BUT yet I came out after those mental 90 minutes with a guilty smile. And all I can say is this film is BIG FUN!

Samuel L (The L stands for Mother F**ker) Jackson takes on the iconic presidential role (About time!) in this 12A hampered action packed tour de force.

So what’s it about? A young teenager (Onni Tommila) camping in the woods helps rescue the President of the United States (Samuel L Jackson) when Air Force One is shot down near his campsite.

If you looked at that premise and shook your head, then this really isn’t for you. It’s silly, OTT but hilarious. For the right reasons? Well, that will be up to you.

Brought to you by the people that made Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. Now that should give you a picture of what to expect. Ridiculous concepts played straight. A dangerous game but it almost worked.

The opening was a little slow burning. All the ridiculousness bubbling in the background. We are introduced to Tommila’s Oskari as he set on a big game hunt by his father. An ancient tradition among the local village that a young boy must take to achieve the path of manhood. Blah, blah, blah.

Tommila’s deadpan expression and dry delivery really made the film for me. I normally find when teenagers are the lead characters in movies like these; they instantly grate against me. Not this time.

Tommila and SLJ were a great pairing. An unexpected one but a good one, none the same. SLJ has proven before that he can make silly premises watchable. Snakes on a Plane was relentless BUT a typical grade A B movie flick (A B? You know what I mean).

Their introduction was hilarious. The plane crash being mistaken for an alien spaceship by the young hunter was corny but the exchange between the pair was worth it. You could tell SLJ was having a laugh especially when Oskari throws POTUS two cups on a string. “Don’t hang up. Did I really just say that?”

The whole terrorist ploy to kidnap the President in a Finnish forest was hammy. All the elaborate and destructive planning just to take some pictures of POTUS and then kill him anyway? Don’t think into it too much.

Luckily, Mehmet Kurtulus’ (Equilibrium) Hazar is so demented and OTT that he takes the attention away from that little niggle. He’s that reckless that you could almost believe his stupid intentions. His missile testing game may have been a rip off of The Jackal but it was quite dark for a 12A using villagers as target practice.

Director Jalmari Helander has an impressive Hollywood cast at his disposal. It was a shame that not all of them were used to their potential. I mean, the presidential back staff that sat watching the chaos in a secure communications room consisted of the likes of Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives), Ted Levine (Silence of the Lambs), Victor Garber (Alias) and Jim Broadbent (Harry Potter)!

All of them playing generic stock characters that were highly unmemorable. Well, Broadbent was the exception. He didn’t do a half bad American accent and I really wished his character had more screen time.

Ray Stevenson was actually quite good as the disloyal bodyguard. He has finally mastered the accent after so many poor renditions. *Cough* The Punisher: War Zone *Cough*

For all it’s silliness, it was strange seeing SLJ playing the role quite seriously. Normally in these stupid action movies or iconic classics i.e. Air Force One, the president instantly becomes a badass and disposes all of the baddies while his highly trained security detail are removed in the first act.

SLJ’s presidential character was quite weak. Flailing around and being knocked about. A little more realistic. If you can say that. It made a change. The badass attitude very much on the shoulders of Oskari.

His stand off with Stevenson’s bodyguard was comical. “Don’t worry, Mr. President. I got this”. Pinging a tiny arrow four inches into the ground.

Considering it was a 12A, it was highly violent and very dark. A scene in which SLJ looks up to see a trail of bodyguards sprinkled across the slope was a little graphic BUT the last 30 minutes was mental. More of what I expected from the get go.

OTT, fast, furious and oh so stupid! The freezer sequence had so many mixed emotions for me. Rolling down a ravine. Flying off a cliff. Dodging bullets. Words escape me.

It zipped along. Ended incredibly violently and oh so cornily. BUT I came out with a grin.

Did Jackson get to say his infamous punchline? I hear you ask. “You got to cock it, motherf-” Alas, the dreaded 12A certificate rearing its ugly head.

If you’re up for a laugh and a corny B movie actioner, then look no further. If you’re not, then keep on looking.

3/5