King Kong (2005)
Writer: Fran Walsh, Phillipa Boyens
Director: Peter Jackson
This is neither the first, nor the best review of Kong. Check out Michael's take on it for a good read. These are just my thoughts on the movie...
I wanted to love this movie. I really wanted to love it. I'd heard from friends that Jack Black was corny in the role of Carl Denham. I'd heard the effects were amazing. I'd heard it was the spectacle movie event of the year. Basically, I'd heard stuff from all points of the spectrum. And I chose to suspend disbelief long enough to give the movie a decent chance.
So, I schlepped off to the theatre today, grabbed my 15L tub of Cokeâ„¢, and my 2kg bag of popcorn. Foreshadowing: don't get the large Cokeâ„¢ when heading into a three hour movie.
I sit down, best seat in the house - geometric centre of the theatre - and sit through the pre-movie ads and teasers. Then, the lights dim, and - hey! more ads! Great! I spend $10.95 for an afternoon matinee ticket, another $10.25 for a Cokeâ„¢ and popcorn, and the theatre needs to show 15 minutes of freaking ads before a three hour movie - because, I guess, we didn't pay enough to get in, and the movie wasn't quite long enough without assistance. Grr...
A mom sits a few rows behind me, with her 2 kids. Who are so small that they both need booster seats to see over the seat in front. I'm wondering (almost out lout) about what kinds of nightmares these kids should be having, because this is going to be some seriously messed up stuff, and I hope it would be too much for a 5 or 6 year old. If it's not too much for a kid that age, I'm really worried about what those kids are exposed to...
Movie starts, and I'm getting into it. Jack Black is actually pretty good as the slimy sleazeball producer. "You can trust me. I'm a movie producer." Sure, Jack. I keep wondering just how much of Carl Denham is Peter Jackson...
As the action builds, and they make their way to Skull Island ("it's not an adventure story, is it?"), I keep thinking that Weta might be recycling models from The Lord of The Rings, because a lot of Skull Island would look entirely at home in Mordor. Giant wall with gaping maw of a gate? And the texture/colour/shading of the rocks is extremely reminiscent of LoTR. Fine. Let it go. It's still pretty freaking impressive. The detail is absolutely stunning.
Really impressed with the "natives" of Skull Island. Scary as hell, with an air of mysticism - voodoo priestess with eyes rolled back in trance waiting for Kong to arrive, etc... Very cool stuff.
The machine that delivers
Fae RayAnn Darrow to Kong was pretty slick, too. Hmm... Who built this stuff? Not the natives... Not Kong... Maybe it was Dharma. Keep on the lookout for numeric strings etched into the walls... 4 8 15 16 23 42
OK. So Kong gets a boner for small blonde chicks. WTF? Sure, she's hot and all, but dude, she's 1% your size. It just won't work. There's physics involved. Oh, right, she makes you laugh. Clever, Peter. Clever.
Ooh. Dinosaurs. Of course! Cool. They're pretty well done, too. Apparently the dinosaurs of Skull Island aren't very physically able, as the panicked band of humans is able to outpace them with relative ease. I mean, these giants should be able to blast past the tiny hu-mans with ease. But they can't seem to get past them no matter how hard they try. Some impressive scenes with the thunder lizards, though. Wonder if there's going to be a PETA or SPCA approval notice at the end of the movie...
I'm not going to spoil any plot (ahem) elements or anything, but anyone who's seen the trailers will be aware that there is a battle scene between Kong and a bunch of scary dinosaurs (T.Rex?). It was a really great fight sequence, masterfully choreographed. But, I kept having flashbacks to Paul Hogan. "That's not a knife. That's a knife!" Just as the fight started, out of nowhere a new dinosaur would stumble across it and join the fray. Sure, having a mouthful of a tonne of reptile meat is nice, but any intelligent T.Rex would gladly throw that away for a chance to have a part of Ann Darrow. There was a completely comic escalation of the fight sequence, from what could have been plausible (you know, in a world where giant apes and giant non-extinct dinosaurs live on the same island, and have insane lust for hot blondes) to a completely over-the-top (but still amazing) fight spectacular.
I kept picturing Peter Jackson in the storyboard meetings for this fight, saying stuff like "yeah, that's great. But what it needs is ANOTHER T. Rex, who is BIGGER than the other ones. That'll be even cooler! OH! And they should all fall down a cliff! OH! And they should swing around and - YEAH! AND KEEP FIGHTING! YEAH! That'll be SOO COOL! OH! OH! And Kong should pith a T.Rex WITH ITS OWN JAW! YEAH! THAT'S AWESOME!"
(several minutes of intense battle sequences - with me almost shouting out "Oh, come ON!", trapping, and magic teleportation back to New York)
Kong gives up. Chained and dressed up on stage. He's cool with that. Until they bring out the blonde hottie. Is it Ann? BOING! Nope. Just some bimbo. Must. Kill. Bimbo. Must. Kill. All. Bimbos. After the initial rampage, I think the composite IQ of New York City may have actually risen as a result of the Blonde Bimbo Cull of '32.
Then, Kong finds Ann. This is going to be... doh... 12L of Cokeâ„¢ make it impossible to find out. I leave the theatre early, missing what I can only assume was a COOL! AMAZING! WAIT - HOW ABOUT IF HE JUMPS OFF OF THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING AND SMACKS A BIPLANE! THAT'D BE SOOOO COOL!
Surprisingly, I didn't feel like I'd missed anything. I'd seen the effects - and they were absolutely incredible. I forgot that Kong was computer generated (or even occasionally that he was an ape at all). The story was not bad. The fight sequences were waaaay over the top.
Update: Almost forgot. One of the highlights of the movie was a trailer preview for Michael Mann's Miami Vice movie, with Jamie Foxx as Tubbs and Colin Farrell as Crocket. I'm a bit disappointed that the IMDB entry for the movie doesn't mention cameos by Don Johnson, Phillip Michael Thomas, or Edward James Olmos...
Tags: movie review kong