MOVIES & BOOZE: Heading to the cinema this weekend?

Esther McCarthy joins Sean Moncrieff...

Our resident film critic Esther McCarthy reviews this week's top releases: 'Kong Skull Island' and 'In Loco Parentis'...

 Kong: Skull Island (12A) ***

John C Reilly having a riot in a supporting role, and a giant gorilla who means business help make Kong: Skull Island great B-movie fun. It's not an original take on the tale, and a tad too long, but these are niggles about a movie which solely aims to be a Friday night crowdpleaser.

Still, the money shots of the monster deliver and Kong is not the only giant creature to feature in this special effects-heavy action/adventure.

Tom Hiddleston plays an expert tracker leading a team of explorers tasked with travelling to an obscure, unchartered island in the Pacific.

It’s the early 1970s, just after America has retreated from the damaging and chaotic Vietnam War.

Of those, John Goodman’s wacky scientist claims they’re there to examine seismic action on the island - but he’s more interested in monsters than earthquakes, and has heard rumours of creatures who inhabit this place. Among the rest of the group is Brie Larson, a war photographer on board to document their findings.

What emerges is a visually spectacular monster movie that offers little new to the genre but has a sense of fun. 

In Loco Parentis (12A) ****

Neasa Ni Chianain’s new documentary In Loco Parentis brings us inside the walls of an Irish boarding school - and into the world of an Enid Blyton or Harry Potter novel.

There’s a sense of timelessness to Headfort in Co Meath, with its rambling grounds, hidden passageways and 18th century buildings, that is reminiscent of Malory Towers or Hogwarts. It is here that children come to live and learn during some of the most formative years of their lives.

Fresh from strong reviews at Sundance and an international film distribution deal, the documentary’s title is Latin - one of the languages still taught at the school - and translates as “in the place of the parent”.

It documents a year in the life of the teachers and pupils of Headfort, an exclusive prep school for seven to twelve year olds in Kells, Co Meath. It’s the only school of its kind remaining in Ireland.

While the children are endearing and funny, it’s the unconventional approach to their education by long-married couple John and Amanda Leyden that makes the film special. While their record as educators stands for itself, they are as passionate about the kids setting up rock bands as they are about English literature.