est. 1981

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we get it: He’s King!

In Entertainment, Movies on December 15, 2005 at 1:03 am
After much fussing and annoyance, along with a missed opportunity and a monster screening I couldn’t watch, I finally saw King Kong last night. I’m sure you’re all saying, “Tell us! Tell us! What did you think?!?” (unless, of course, you already saw it, or you just don’t care), so I won’t keep you in suspense.

First of all, I have to agree with my friends that have seen it: Jackson did a pretty effective job of turning an 80 minute movie into a 3 hour movie. It is slow at times (there are definitely sub plots that were unnecessary) and it takes an awful long time to even hear Kong, let alone see him, so the first hour of the film is spent wondering when you get to all the cool stuff that you saw in the trailer. It doesn’t help that the script is very much kin to the tongue-in-cheek camp Jackson utilized effectively in Dead Alive and the Frighteners. The Cheesy Love Story winds up taking two forms this time in a very intriguing love triangle, but it is more effective when mixed in with the action (Anne and Kong) than leading up to the action (Anne and Jack). After all, I like watching pretty people make out as much as the next guy, but I did come to see the movie with the intention of watching a giant monkey beat the shit out of stuff.

Oh, but when he does, you won’t regret the wait. The film explodes into a giant furry ball of momentum in the second act that not only embraces the adventure genre it comes from, but doesn’t insult it with the sub-par effects acting as crutches that commonly plague today’s action fare. There are numerous action sequences, each more amazing than the last. In fact, so much of the film has been constructed with such care and love by those Kiwis down at WETA that it’s easy to get lost in the world of Kong, much like Middle Earth before it. Those of you who were impressed by Gollum’s characterizations will be amazed by the simple fact that not only did they make a computer animated animal look alive, but also managed to give it expressions and emotions without anthropomorphizing it. The relationship between Anne and Kong is just as palpable as the one between her and Jack. Granted, there is a point when you want to say, “Okay, we get it: he loves her, and she loves him… kinda,” especially in the final act, but these moments are more than made up for by the scenes that book-end them.

All in all, the film’s only real shortcoming is that it takes itself too seriously. The camp-factor of Dead Alive and the Frighteners worked because the films themselves were adventures, not just the actions that they were performing. Winning thirteen Oscars may have bought Jackson enough clout to make whatever movie he wants, but it may have been the worst thing to ever happen to him: I guess it’s kinda hard to have too much fun when you’re spending $207 million of Universal’s money. Oddly enough, the actor that captures the tone of the script the best is Jack Black, and it’s because of that that it almost feels like he’s in a different movie, or that he’s the only one in on a joke. Which apparently he was. Either way, it was nice to see Jackson do something a little lighter, more fun, and with a different set of challenges. It really felt like a Jackson film, whatever that means. Fun camera work, silly dialogue, and cool tricks. Keep on the lookout for inside jokes: there’s a quicky about the original King Kong at the beginning, and there’s one for Dead Alive when they get on the boat. Definitely worth watching; definitely worth watching again.

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