Friday

Return Of The King

Rarely have I been as conflicted about my feelings for a movie as I am with Peter Jackson’s KING KONG. I absolutely loved a good deal of the movie, and it contains some of the greatest scenes in the history of cinema.

On the other hand, the film is too long, with moments that shatter credibility, and is ultimately somewhat sadistic towards its title character. Everything is pushed to the limit, and the tragic elements are so expertly crafted that the film is sometimes hard to watch.

The film divides into three sections, and I will review them seperately.
First we have “The Journey” where our characters venture to Kong’s island. I didn’t mind the pace of the New York City scenes, which set everyone up, so much as the lengthy time spent on the boat. There’s little dramatic development and a few scenes (like the actor and his posters) belong on the Deleted section of the DVD.
This is the fourth time I’ve watched Naomi Watts play an aspiring actress. [MULHOLLAND DR., I (HEART) HUCKABEES and NEVER DATE AN ACTRESS. And I know she plays one in ELLIE PARKER.] I think she’s very talented and quite fearless. Sometimes there is an overt theatricality to her acting, but overall it works because you can say that’s her character.
The boat time would have been better spent developing an actual connection between Watts’ Ann Darrow and Adrian Brody’s Jack Driscoll, which only gets a tossed off scene where Ann awkwardly catches Jack shirtless in a narrow hallway. Brody is okay, but for how important his character ultimately is, he is really underdeveloped.
Most of the first hour focuses on Jack Black’s Carl Denham, who may be the most energetic and eye-catching passenger, but we understand him completely before we even get on the ship, so the extra scenes are not necessary. Overall, the first hour is mildly passable.

The initial Skull Island scenes are awkwardly plotted, with people embarking and disembarking repeatedly. I don’t want to divulge why they do this, but once you see it perhaps you’ll agree that events could have been combined to move things along faster.

The next section, “The Island Adventure” is my favorite of the three. For about an hour, Jackson bombards the screen, cutting between the search for Ann and Kong protecting her from all sorts of danger, while developing the bond with her that Brody never got to do.

Not everything works here either. Ann is tossed around so fiercely it’s impossible to believe she wouldn’t pass out, throw up, or have her bones snapped. And I have a big problem with a moment where someone who’s never fired a weapon shoots a person covered with bugs and only the bugs are hit.
The best shot of the movie has Ann hiding from a giant Rex by laying flat against the ground. The rest I refuse to spoil, but Jackson is obviously having the time of his life. It’s also evident in the creature designs and the moment when Ann encounters a couple of large centipedes. The non-stop adventure contains the year’s best action, best special effects and more brilliance than you can catch in one viewing. The “vines” sequence is the best scene of the year.
There needs to be a special award for the creation of Kong and the work of Andy Serkis, who physically brought Kong to life (and plays the ship’s cook.) They work is groundbreaking, and Serkis’ expressions give Kong real soul.
And it nags me that I’m not sure this was a good idea. See, in the previous films, Kong was a big angry monkey that needed to be put down. This is the first lovable portrayal of Kong, which works great in the relationship with Ann but makes the final hour of the movie as much fun as seeing your pet die in front of you.
The film’s final section is highly effective. Jackson creates an epic, grand tragedy. From the moment Jack and Ann meet again, I realized that a happy ending was impossible and the real moment where things turned tragic actually happened a while ago. The rest of the film is the humiliation and destruction of a confused animal.
All through the “New York” sequence, I kept thinking, “Kong doesn’t know what he’s doing.” I tried to focus on the remarkable effects; the spectacle but there’s no joy in watching Kong tear apart the city. And like the rest of the movie, Jackson is relentless. That much tragedy I think is too much to bear, and the final set piece in particular I just wanted to be over. The vicious attack on Kong goes on so long, it borders on cruel. I don’t care how well shot it is.

Within the grim New York sequence there are two upbeat moments and if Peter Jackson gets a directing nomination, these are the scenes that will put him there. Both moments are quiet, highly emotional and shot very poetically. Easily my favorite part of the final hour.

I’m still without a solution. How do you recommend a film where the first third is too dull and the middle third is the best time you could ever have at the movies? The final third is too grim, but that’s kind of what a tragedy is supposed to do. (TITANIC’s tragedy worked better because we knew Rose survived and we didn’t know the fate of Jack until the last 15 minutes.) This is easily one of the year’s best films, but Jackson made his monkey a bit too lovable, turning a grand epic adventure into an emotional endurance test.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Molly Finneran said...

King Kong, the remake, dinosaurs, romance and elaborate special effects. It did well enough at the box office and made millions, but was probably one the biggest let down of 2005. For those who have seen the original, it was just too over done. What was supposed to be a glorious revival of a timeless classic turned into a jumbled mess of over rated and over done special effects.
It seemed to be divided into three parts, on the boat, on the island, and back in the city. The beginning seemed promising, the part on the boat was really quite interesting but that’s about when it peaked, from then on it went downhill, fast. Around forty five minutes into the movie you begin to lose interest. As soon as the boat gets to the island, the dialoged seems to just disappear into a series of grunts and screams. Between the giant bugs and the dinosaurs, there were more excruciating death scenes than I have ever seen in one movie.
A lot of people might have liked this movie but personally it was a total waist of money, if you bye the DVD or if you see it in theaters. It was the kind of movie that you could just get up in to go get food and not be rushing back to your seat. The worst thing by far though was how long it was, around three hours of dull mediocre entertainment. It would have been terrible if you needed to go to the bathroom, the horrendous length ensured that most of the audience had to get up at one point or another, and miss a part of the movie.
The uninspiring performances and what seemed to be a lack of emotion, in what was supposed to be a horror movie was also disappointing. The CG animation was not bad though the King Kong him self was chillingly life like. It was just up to the cast which included stars like Naomi Watts, Jack Black, and Adrien Brody to deliver, but unfortunately, they did not. Personally it was the acting that really brought the whole movie down.
Being one of Peter Jackson’s first films after the lord of the Ring series, the two probably will be compared, which is a sad thing, because the conclusion will no be good. He really went over board, the potential for this movie was so great that it was just such a let down. If he had condensed the movie into one normal length one it could have been very affective, but it really just could not live up to the original, no matter how many special affects it had.

8:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

molly finneran was 5 years old and pregnant while writing this remark. king kong is my x husband and id rather not have some knocked up spappa wave all this abuse in my lovers luminous facial complexion, i wish also to point out that king kong and i are back together.

2:44 AM  
Anonymous movies social community said...

A lot of people might have liked this movie but personally it was a total waist of money, if you bye the DVD or if you see it in theaters. It was the kind of movie that you could just get up in to go get food and not be rushing back to your seat.

1:45 AM  

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