Tuesday, January 10, 2006

King Kong atop the world

I saw "King Kong" over the weekend. I loved it. The movie took the original King Kong and used it as an outline for this movie. Everything that was in the 1933 movie has been expanded on and enriched. This made for a long movie, over three hours, but it never felt like one.
There were a few holes in the movie. Jack Black's acting is just a touch too much. Black is a ham and he is trying to rein it in here, but only partially succeeds. I don't think he could make a subtle motion to save his life. Fortunately for him, his character is over the top anyway. The film really gives a new look at Carl Denham: ambitious, self-obsessed, adventurous and probably crazy. I liked the rebuilding of the character, it made for a deeper, more interesting guy (and probably one truer to the era.)
The scene with the insects and lampreys and all was pretty exciting, but why does the calvary turn up? As far as I could tell, the writers had just put themselves in a corner and had to find a way out, despite logic. I think that Jackson just wanted to do that scene so much, he let it override his sense of story.
And the last line, the same one from the original film, was just wrong here. It wasn't as cringe inducing as I'd been led to believe, but it certainly didn't fit. In fact, in this version of the movie, Denham should have been packing his bags as the ape was rampaging.
And the movie's length: Yes, it moved right along and didn't feel like three hours, but there was still a hell of a lot of stuff that could have been deleted to make a shorter running time. Even if you love every minute of the film, it's hard to find time in the day to see a three-hour movie.
Despite all those quibbles, it was a great movie. I had a good time and would love to see it again. Naomi Watts was terrific, as she has been in everything I've seen her in. Kong was a marvel to behold. Everything on Skull Island was scary. Atop the Empire State Building, you could really feel a sense of vertigo. I don't think any movie has ever given me such a great sense of height.
This version of King Kong was a worthy remake of the original and adds itself to a list of the finest giant monster movies ever made.

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Mark said...

Been away for awhile, but happy to see my blog on such a distinguished blogroll!

I've been following your King Kong posts (I'm, of course, a huge fan of giant monsters).

My opinion of the film closely follows yours. I'm glad you mention the amazing sense of height you felt during the Empire State Building scenes.

At one point during the picture I leaned over to my wife and whispered that I was really getting a taste of vertigo. I actually had to look down for a moment to get my sense of balance back!

My biggest complaint is that the film is too long.That dinosaur stampede seemed like it lasted an hour or so. Actually, I thought many of the action scenes were overdone and could have been edited.

And being from the old, old school, I will always prefer the imperfections of stop-motion animation over CGI effects. But everybody knows I'm a stubborn old fool who lives in the past.

I also think Jack Black was miscast, but my wife thought he did a fantastic job.

Naomi Watts, of course, proved to be a wonderful match for the big fella.

Great site, keep up the good work. And thanks for adding me to your blogroll!

Brian said...

Thanks for the comments Mark. Your blog is a welcome addition.

As for Jack Black, I don't know if miscast is the word I would use. To me, he fits the type of over-the-top showman Carl Denham should be. But I just don't think his acting is quite where it needed to be. The casting was good, the acting was bad.

As for Naomi Watts, she has yet to turn in a bad performance in anything.

I, of course, love stop motion effects. But it is hard to argue with some of King Kong's better moments. The ape looked so damn real. But there were also plenty of moments where you lose the physicality, the realness, of the monster that actual filmed things bring to a picture.

The movie was of course too long, and much of it was in the action scenes. There are worse things though.