King Kong

| December 12, 2005

I almost made this a one-word review.
Last night I walked out of the movie theater (one of the big ones where they can hold a few hundred people) and it took me awhile to catch my breath. I went in expecting nothing–it’s King Kong for goodness sake, it’s been done. But director Peter Jackson took me on a roller coaster ride of excitement that made me suspend, for at least one night, my rule of Remakes Suck. I have The Producers to see later this week so we will see if that is a trend or there really was a remade movie that I was truly entertained by that I would had missed if I did not see it.
Jack Black plays Carl Denham a movie director in search of his “Landmark” picture that will put him on the Hollywood map. It is Depression Era in the United States and he has just been fired by his financial backers in the middle of a picture and rather than admit defeat, “borrows” the equipment, steam ship, crew, and writer and heads off for an uncharted island to film a land that has never been filmed. He has no idea what is in store for him on that island. There are creatures and people and dangers never seen–including a 25 foot tall ape that is the king of that island.
This movie can be broken down into three parts.
The first hour is getting to the Island and plot development. We come to know the characters and care for them. Even those of questionable integrity. Denham has hijacked writer Jack Driscoll (Halle Barry kisser Adrien Brody) and is writing and shooting the first part of the movie as they travel to the island.
The second hour takes place on the island. This is literally a nonstop rush where we see nine or ten (I lost track) battles between man and beast or beast and beast that concludes with the capture of Kong. In what has to be one of the best sequences in film history (think the beginning of Indiana Jones on steroids), Naomi Watts (as Ann Darrow) is attacked by 5 different creatures who all intend on making her their lunch, each more ferocious than the previous. In the trailer and the poster you see her between Kong and a Tyrannosaurus Rex. One word: Un-f***ingbelievable. Without giving away the detail, you will see a stampede of animals that will make you never complain about your commute to work again. When this segment of the movie ended, there was an audible sigh of relaxation by the audience as we realized that nothing else was about to pop out of the screen and attack us.
The third (an final) hour of the movie takes place back in New York City with Denham showing off his creation to the world. But as is often the case with adventure movies, “something goes horribly wrong.”
OK- here I go gushing about this movie. Watts- beautiful, agile, feeling–if you wanted the answer to that musical question “What ever happened to Faye Ray?” I can tell you the part has been recast in the 21st Century and Watts should be remembered for her performance this entire century as Ray was for hers in the last. Watts (The Ring, 21 Grams) must have spent days being thrown around in front of a green screen, had to climb ladder after ladder and juggled and flipped around like a world class gymnast. All while wearing the most demure little dress. The Effects: Not to be missed. I had a friend ask me to compare Kong’s effects to the Chronicles of Narnia which opened this week. NO CONTEST. Kong wins in a landslide. In fact, you will SEE a landslide that is amazing. Other descriptive words: Insane, Incredible, Shockingly perfect, seamless. With Jack Black (Saving Silverman, Shallow Hal, Envy) you see a little of his younger “screwball” personality but it has grown up and turned into an adult. There was a bit of Orsen Wells, a bit of Barnum and Bailey and a whole lot of fun in his performance. I have seen Black in many films, with the same kind of personality traits but I am continually impressed and drawn into his performances. Unlike Wil Ferrell (Bewitched), who is trying the same old same old thing and not coming close. Oscar winner Adrien Brody (The Pianist, The Village) is great as writer Driscoll. No one else laughed as I did when he kissed Watts but I was in awe of who this guy gets to kiss–and how he got his nose around her! I enjoyed their love story, but the tender love of Kong for Darrow (and vice versa) was far more intense and made me feel far more sad when it ended. Yea, Adrien, you were beaten out by an ape.
This is a NOT TO BE MISSED movie. See it on the Big Screen. The bigger the better. With the best sound system you can find. I went in expecting nothing. I came out a huge fan. As huge as the 25 foot tall king of the jungle.

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