Friday, September 28, 2012

King Kong (2005)

Having just watched the putrid 1976 remake of King Kong, walking into this movie I was just hoping that it would at least be better than that steaming pile of crap. Thankfully it was. But I didn't think it was this awesome masterpiece most people are making it out to be. It was good, but it wasn't great.

You probably already know the story. Actress is poor and needs work, hooks up with sleazy film director, gets shipped off to Skull Island to film a movie and meets Kong, a 25 foot ape that likes blondes that can withstand boatloads of physical abuse. They develop a mutual pet relationship with each other, monkey gets captured and shipped to New York for a Broadway musical with the Dolemite Dancers, breaks loose and performs a swan dive off the Empire State building scoring a 9.5 by the judges.

The thing is I just don't get it. What exactly is it that makes poor Ms. Darrow fall for the ape? Was it that he has a boner for sunrises? That he laughs at her pratfalls? That he likes how she looks in a muddy nighty? I don't understand it, and I don't know why he gets fixated with her either. He tries to shake her to death at one point, and when she doesn't break he becomes taken with her because she lived (actually she should have died 85 times by the time the movie ends with all the abuse she takes). Maybe it was because he saw her twat while she was performing all those cartwheels in front of him. I know I'd flip for Naomi Watts on the spot if she flashed me her goods.
While the main focus of the movie didn't really draw me in, I do have to say that this film features the longest sustained action scene I've ever seen in a movie. I swear the middle hour and a half is one long special effect filled ass-kicking-a-thon that never lets up. Once Kong kidnaps Ms. Darrow its non-stop chase scenes, beast fights and narrow escapes that really got the adrenaline flowing. The highlights being the scene on the log, Kong vs. the T-Rexes and the psychotic Brontosaurus chase.

However, this film is just to damn long for its own good. There are scenes that just seem to go on and on and on for no apparent reason other than to fuel Peter Jackson's ego. Sure the guy made the kickin' Lord of the Rings trilogy, but this isn't a story chock full of multiple plot points and a huge cast of characters. He had a lot of ground to cover in those films and their length reflected that, but here he just seems to be drawing things out for the hell of it. The scene at the bottom of the chasm with the bugs is one example. We know these people are screwed and there's no possible chance to escape, and once we come to realize that it continues to beat you over the head with it for another 3 minutes. The beautiful scene in Central Park is another. Kong discovers ice and plays with Ms. Darrow on the frozen pond for a little bit before he gets killed, but it just keeps going and going and going until he gets a mortar shell upside his head for being a bad Kong since he didn't know that Central Park is a 'slip & slide' free zone. The finale is overlong too. Kong swings at the bi-planes at the top of the Empire State Building for about 10 minutes. I was kind of hoping he'd slip on some bird poop or something and fall before the planes did him in.
I did enjoy the slow and deliberate first 45 minutes. I like character development and watching some great actors strutting their stuff on screen, and apparently enjoying themselves, was a treat and really sets you up for the shit storm they are about to face. I cared for them when the time came to lay the smack down on some flapper punk bitches. Although the stowaway character and first mate relationship came of as a little overtly homoerotic and drawn out as well.

The acting was great across the board. Naomi Watts and Adrien Brody have a great kind of goofy chemistry that works well since his main competition for her affections is a CGI monkey. Jack Black surprised me with his performance as the sleazy director. I like him as a comedian (and a bitchin' songwriter), but he pulled off this character really well (except his final line of dialogue). Andy Sirkis performs double duty in this flick, playing the ship's cook and being the CGI stand-in for Kong. There were a few times that I thought Kong was a real ape, not a bunch of polygons.
The CGI is mostly awesome. The CGI creatures all looked fantastic, but there were a number of times when you could totally tell that the actors were standing against a bluescreen; sometimes you could even see the bluescreen glow reflected onto the actor's faces, or (gasp) even the blue halo around the actor's bodies. Those parts took me out of the film completely. I'm just shocked that those shots were allowed to pass since Star Wars pulls those elements off without a hitch, and Jackson had more money for this film!!!

Jackson knows his stuff, but I think he let his ego get in the way of telling a story in a way that wasn't 3 1/2 hours long. Sure I got a kick out of some of it, but I hope his Director's Cut on DVD is shorter.

2 out of 5

*written 12/16/05

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