Producers: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Jan
Blenkin, Carolynne Cunningham
Written by: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter
Jackson; story by Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace
Cast: Andy Serkis, Naomi Watts, Jack Black,
Adrien Brody, Jamie Bell, Thomas Kretschmann, Colin Hanks
I’m being told that I need to fess up to not having seen
the original, or for that matter any, King Kong production.
What I have seen are the inescapable pieces of Americana that tell
you the story of such a popular and powerful classic. For example
“The Simpsons” did a King Kong, which basically
gives you the plot (Anyone remember the gag about women and seamen?)
if you had never encountered anything about it before. While I’m
giving you background, allow me to say that I can identify with
any primate large or small. I look at my own slightly furry arms,
think about my lips jutting out in a circle and making a “hoo
hoo” sound, and cannot help admitting that I’m 98% chimp.
This has led to the discomforting conclusion that civilization is
nothing more that a glorified zoo where the inhabitants must fend
for themselves. I see a monkey in everyone—especially The
Monkees—so don’t think you’re anything
special because of your large brain, vocal chords, or philosophical
ventures. If someone took away your pretty (living) doll, you’d
scream and pound your chest, demanding retribution for violating
clearly marked territory and stealing your (living) property.
The story has a depressing start. It’s the Depression, and
nobody can seem to make ends meet. Even a solidly entertaining vaudeville
act (I loved it) fails to give Ann Darrow (Watts)
the money she needs to eat. She must go out and beg for an audition
in her favorite play, but is instead re-routed to places of burlesque.
Carl Denham (Black) catches a glimpse of Ann as
she turns away from said burlesque institution and must have her
for his latest production. Quite literally, he must, because his
other leading lady has R-U-N-N-O-F-T. Such are the troubles of being
a renegade film producer. He persuades Ann to join his cast because
he has her favorite writer, Jack Driscoll (Brody),
working on the script. Denham sleazes everyone around him into giving
him what he needs to make his movie, and they’re off to film
the greatest adventure movie ever made on an uncharted island called
Skull Island. Why he believed his silly map is beyond me. I guess
he had a serious case of Inspirado.
That’s the first third (fifth?) of the movie. We all know
the rest. However, Peter Jackson decided that he
really needed to make another trilogy, since LOTR went
so well. The first movie is getting to Skull Island and meeting
the natives, who introduce Ann to Kong. The next movie is breaking
into Skull Island, rescuing Ann, and capturing Kong. Apparently,
1 broad equals roughly 20 sailors. The last movie in this flick
involves the ever-famous escape and last stand at the top of the
Empire State Building. Peter Jackson does such a great job crafting
a good movie that he just does too much of it. He doesn’t
realize that some of the dialogue is trite, hackneyed, or otherwise
silly. I don’t know how vital some of the lines were, because
Pete definitely wanted to stay true to the original Kong, but some
of it just seemed as gay as Samwise and Frodo making sweet verbal
love to each other.
On the plus side, everything else about this movie rocked the
motherfucking house. The monkey that played Kong was the best actor
in the whole film. He really knew how to receive direction, and
better yet, was domesticated enough to not devastate the entire
crew. The T. rexi he fought were also talented. Whoever
trained all the giant monsters in this film really deserves some
enormous kudos. Some say it was CG, but I think Kong was actually
played by a 30-ton gorilla with some quality make-up. The rest of
the denizens of Skull Island were fantastically animated (giant
apes and lizards I can believe, but huge lampreys and crawlers and
the like are clearly virtual). The choreography of Kong’s
fight against three T. rexi really blew me away. I found
myself tensing up with excitement as Kong kicked some serious ass,
even if he was kicking human ass. Jackson created the greatest nonhuman
character in cinema history.
Someday, he’ll figure out how to make the greatest movie.
Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.
Itís worth a full-price ticket.
Itís worth a matinee ticket.
Wait for video rental.
Check out the video from the library, if you must.
While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...