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King Kong (2005)

 "Not even the tip then huh?"
"Not even the tip then huh?"

Genre: Action Adventure Period Drama Fantasy Thriller... Romance? (USA, New Zealand)

Starring: Naomi Watts (The Assassination of Richard Nixon; The Ring), Jack Black (The School of Rock; Shallow Hal)

Directed By: Peter Jackson (Bad Taste; Dead Alive)

Overview: In pursuit of exotic footage, a New York film crew goes to an uncharted island.  There, our blonde Ann Darrow finds herself the affectation of a 25 foot monster gorilla.  Some set out to save her while other set out to bring the beast home.


Casting made a very interesting choice with Jack Black. A comic and physical actor, you wouldn't expect him to be quite the right fit for this kind of film... unless you've seen the original. You see, the mild zing of hamminess (and Jack suppresses his over-the-topness perfectly) tributes Carl Denham The First's adventurous 'flair' just right. Still, Jackson, there's no shame in asking him to do it again from time to time.  What I found MOST surprising is how wiry Naomi Watts is, and what a strong grip! I mean swinging around on vines and bats and cliff-faces all day! Talk about lean muscle mass! I will say that I very much appreciated / preferred that Ann Darrow was understanding of the ape, and that his character was developed.
Rating: 8


Kong is a pretty monkey, there's no doubt about that. The ship in the ocean, the perfect sunsets, the biplanes, the bugs and the bats, all a nice bit of CGI, and mostest bestest is the classic battle versus T-Rex... if you just watch that bit on UTube or something over and over, it's worthy. 

So why keep producing CGI scenes until you make something inferior in quality that's useless to the plot? Here's the story: Director starts filming when he sees brontosauruses, raptors make an appearance, dinosaurs begin to stampede.  Everyone starts running and shooting at raptors for about seven minutes.  Instead of cutting this weakest of this CGI-heavy content, the studio decides to include the stuff the interns made on their break, muddy shots that look more fake than real and merely serving to stretch out an already too-long 3+ hour film. Why the humans didn't just lean up against the wall and let the stampede pass, I'll never know. Oh right, LCDF heroics. I'm surprised they didn't hop in a Mini and drive through the underbrush.
Rating: 9


In his script, Jackson pays more than a great homage to the Kong roots, and though nothing literary, it does take the best corny lines from the original script to keep that melodramatic feel.  What I liked best, however, was the rather interesting trick of historical reconstruction that was done in one of the early scenes. 

The director discovers that his leading lady, Maureen (presumably Maureen O'Sullivan) has bailed on the film.   "Talk to Harlow's people" he says.  When he discovers she isn't available, he fires through his other considerations.  "Myrna Loy? Clara Bow? Mae West?"  All five of these actresses were working on projects the year the original King Kong was filmed, in 1933.  I particularly liked that exchange. The director finally asks "What about Fay?" obviously meaning Fay Wray, who as you all know, played the original blonde Ann Darrow, affectation of our 1933 Kong.  The reply is that Fay is doing a picture with RKO. "Cooper huh?" says our director. 

Smooth.  Fay Wray, the same year in 1933, starred opposite Gary Copper in the Romantic Comedy One Sunday Afternoon. It almost broke my brain. Who says knowing your 1930s film isn't useful! Nice shout out to those who came before... except Mae West
Rating: 7


Hot Monkey Love + Skull Island Mania + Empire State Building Biplane Showdown - three damned hours =
Rating: 8


Hero Factor was way too high in this one. The basest application of the Hollywood formula was laid on far too thick.  I felt I should have been watching the movie with a French-manicured girl who asked me to explain the difference between T-Rex and the huge gorilla for a fourth time as she was bleaching her hair while hurling her carrot sticks through her anorexic esophagus.

I was especially fond of the kid firing the Thompson for the first time all over the huge bugs trying to eat one of our heroes, picking them off him perfectly. It's a machine gun. Don't make me buy that crap. The dude shoulda been mushed bits all over the ravine wall.

I felt dirty sometimes.
Rating: 7

 Talk about rock and a hard place...
Talk about rock and a hard place...

Overall Rating: 78% (I SWEAR I Didn't Plan It!)

Maybe Jackson's the kind of director who just lets things go as long as his vision remains intact.  Whether it's Dead Alive or Lord of the Rings, his vision seems to focus around the fantastically epic / panoramic vision rather than the writing or the acting.  I've convinced myself long ago that most directors follow the story (visual / mood) or the telling (acting / script), and it's a rare thing to find mastery in both.  If Jackson was made aware of how much the rote normalcy of the predictable and the overzealous super-human actions detracted from my ultimate enjoyment, would he have put his foot down more frequently? Including a writer love interest who isn't the hottest guy doesn't make for original.  The monkey's the original.. and this is a remake... hence... not original.

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This movie bored me to tears.

The special effects were incredible, but after the fourth or fifth creature atatck I just began to numb out and my attention started wandering. Nowhere near enough plot going on in this flick to justify the ridiculaous running time. If I wanted to watch someone masturbate for over three hours I'd just rent a bunch of porn...

I suppose I should spell check before posting - especially when I'm writing a pissy comment...

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