The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: King Kong
By Vince Palomarez | Images property of Universal Pictures
Set in the 1930s, King Kong is the story of a group of explorers and documentary filmmakers who travel to the mysterious Skull Island to investigate legends of a giant gorilla named Kong. Once there, they discover that King Kong is a real creature, living in a massive jungle where creatures from prehistoric times have been protected and hidden for millions of years. As the explorers search for the great ape, their quest puts them up against all the dangers the land has to offer. Ultimately, it is the attention of a beautiful human woman that soothes Kong long enough for him to be subdued by the explorers and shipped back to New York. Things get out of hand when Kong manages to escape from captivity and set forth to find the beauty and destroy anything that lies in his path.
King Kong Movie Review
I think the biggest question on everyone minds was does King Kong feel like a three hour film. The answer to that is a definite no. Aside from the first forgettable hour (more on that later) of the film the last two hours of King Kong are an endless thrill ride that will keep you glued to your seat throughout the film. From the moment the cast hits Skull Island, the action never stops. Peter Jackson does an excellent job of constantly building up the tension. Just when you think you have a second to breath, another danger presents your self and it’s like the ride never stopped. Even during the few slow spots of the film it’s hard to turn your attention away from the screen thanks to the excellent job by Jackson and the folks at WETA for creating such a surreal environment. Not only does he create an exact replica of New York in the 1930’s, but his design of Skull Island is so amazing and eerie, it brings you back to the old Tarzan and monster movies your parents showed you when you were a kid. Jackson has taken the awe of Jurassic Park, the danger and excitement of Raiders of the Lost Arc and the love story of Beauty and the Beast and made them even better than the people who worked on those films did. This film was his baby and he uses every talented resource he has available to him to make sure this film is perfect.
A story about a 25ft tall gorilla falling in love with woman may seem a little on the unrealistic side, but credit the team of Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens for putting together a solid story that at times may get a little ridiculous, but does an excellent job of making you care about the characters and the adventure they’re on. There are many other directors that could’ve made the moments between Kong and Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) look ridiculous, but Jackson’s superior knack of always emphasizing the characters over the effects gives you an instant connection to the bond between woman and beast. The team at WETA as well as the performance of Andy Serkis dose an excellent job of making Kong seem like a real animal and not a CGI creature. They must’ve studied hours upon hours of footage on gorillas because everything from the movement down to the mannerisms feel like you’re watching a living, breathing 25ft tall animal. Jackson gives Kong every chance to prove how real he could be by providing some of the most realistic animal fights I have ever seen on screen. The fight scene in the middle of the movie between Kong and the Tyrannosaurus Rex’s is very graphic and brutal, yet you never get the feeling that any of the stuff Kong does is over the top. Jackson could’ve easily added Kong doing some flashy moves in order to wow the audience, but instead he makes the fight scenes and action seem like if something like that were to happen, that’s exactly what it would look like.
Face it folks, this is almost a perfect film……..almost.
Old New York in King Kong
While King Kong is better than most films out there, it is by no means perfect. Perhaps the achievement of winning 11 Oscars last year may have gotten to Jackson’s head a little, because there are times he tries to pack too much story in to this film. Based on the huge success of LOTR, no one was going to tell Jackson “no” and it’s obvious that no one did because the first hour of King Kong is forgettable. I understand Jackson’s need to give every character some type of story and meaning, but he definitely overdoes it during the first hour of the film and in the end it doesn’t even matter. Characters that were introduced in the beginning are pretty much forgotten half way through the film. In the end the story came down to the relationship between Kong, Darrow, Jack Driscoll and Carl Denham every one is a minor player, but if you were to look at the first hour by itself, every looked like they were going to play an important role in the end. Maybe Jackson has gotten a little narcissistic with all the fame and glory he got from the LOTR franchise and figured he could make this work, but the film does suffer a little from the slowness of the first hour. As a whole though, this is a minor problem that is all but forgotten the moment the crew arrives on Skull Island.
Even a near flawless film like this has an ugly aspect to it and it is in the form of the character known as Jimmy. I have absolutely no idea why this character was even put in this film (because he plays no part in the end), but man…..this kid gets annoying not even 5 minutes into his story. I understand that he was supposed so symbolize some kind of “innocence’, but there is only so much of Jimmy talking about hope and defying the captains orders that I can stand and they definitely go overboard with it. Judge for yourself, but during some of the more serious moments the presence of Jimmy almost takes away from the emotion and causes the scene to be somewhat laughable.
King Kong is one of the must see films of the year. From beginning to end this is a film that is a certain classic and unlike some recent remakes, this film is hardly forgettable. While the first hour may be a little hard to watch, the last two more than make up for it and in the end you’ll leave the theater more than satisfied.
Sources: Images property of Universal Pictures
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