Thursday, March 9, 2017

Movie Review: "King Kong" (2005)

Image Source
Movie"King Kong"
Director: Peter Jackson
Year: 2005
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 3 hours, 7 minutes

Filmmaker Carl Denham leads a film and ship crew to a secret island to shoot his new picture. Once there, they encounter some hostile natives who kidnap his leading lady Ann Darrow and use her as a sacrifice to Kong, the giant gorilla that lives on the island. Now, they must get her back, but despite the danger, Denham is not willing to leave without a film or an even bigger money maker.

"King Kong" is directed by Peter Jackson, who made a ginormous name for himself with "The Lord of Rings" trilogy. This is his remake of the 1933 classic of the same name. This version is actually set in 1933 and makes several of nods to the original, if you can catch them, which we were able to do since we had just watched the original a few days beforehand. Jackson's remake stars Jack Black as film producer Carl Denham, who wants to make his new picture on the hidden Skull Island. Joining him are Naomi Watts, who plays starving actress-turned-leading lady Ann Darrow, and Adrien Brody as screenwriter and play-write Jack Driscoll. Also in the film are Colin Hanks, Thomas Kretschmann, Evan Parke, Jamie Bell, Kyle Chandler, and Andy Serkis, who has a physical on-screen role and also does the motion capture for Kong himself.

Peter Jackson takes what was once a giant monster horror movie with groundbreaking visuals and turns it into an epic adventure film. Despite the scale-up in production and film length, he manages to capture the spirit of the original excellently and never trounces on its legacy. He paints Kong as more than just a giant ape and allows the audience to empathize with him, even if it's only in some small way. We see the great personality that Serkis, along with the help of CG animators, really imbued strong emotion into the character of Kong, so much so that we even can understand his motivations for the things he does. Kong likes Ann Darrow not because she's a pretty blond, but because she entertains him and makes him laugh with her vaudevillian act and empathy.

Where this remake excels, much like the 1933 version, is in its special effects. The creation of Kong is nothing short of brilliant. Combining Andy Serkis's mo-cap with an impressive array of digital talent brings this creature to life in a humongous and terrifying fashion. That being said, some of the other CGI elements, especially the other creatures Kong and the film crew interact with, don't come together as clean as the titular character himself. There are times while watching when we thought there should have been someone telling Peter Jackson to scale it back a bit when it comes to his overabundance of giant creatures. Also, the way the human characters interact with the digital ones isn't always 100% clean and sharp. Other than these few instances, the film is visually gorgeous from start to finish. Another problem we have with this version is its length. We understand the need for character development and the setting up of several situations from the original movie, but there is a good 40 minutes or so that could have been cut from the film, which would have made a less bogged down, better paced movie.

Upon re-watch, we are glad to say 2005's "King Kong" is a mostly engaging, exciting adventure film, and the parts that involve Kong himself help make up for the time spent without him (minus the one scene where Naomi Watts literally just grunts and screams for what feels like 30 minutes straight). Hell, even in the 1933 version, it take 47 minutes for King Kong to make his first appearance on screen. It rivals the original in greatness and far surpasses the 1976 version. There is a lot of action and intensity, as well as a few dramatic and tender moments. Who can forget about the climax atop the Empire State Building? This scene is massively impressive. This is what remakes should strive to be like only with a tad more restraint and a few less minutes of filler.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 84%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

No comments:

Post a Comment