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King Kong (DVD, 2006, Anamorphic Widescreen)
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Kong - King or Donkey?
Dec 15, 2005 (Updated Mar 4, 2006)
Review by captaind
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Cons:... far too many...
The Bottom Line: Unfortunately, Peter Jackson's King Kong turns out to be a real disappointment.
King Kong has been done before, of course (the most famous and probably definitive version being done way back in 1933) though I have no bias towards previous version as I dont recall ever seeing them (though Im pretty sure I must have done). The trailer for this one had me in two minds, but the fact that its directed by Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame convinced me to see it.
Recommend this product?
The plot follows thus: during the Great Depression, young theatre actress Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) finds herself out of work and very, very hungry. At the same time, slightly eccentric and very obsessed movie producer Carl Denham (Jack Black) finds himself on the run from his studio bosses, who are about to pull the plug on his latest picture. Finding himself in need of an actress pronto after he finds that his first choice has pulled out, who should he bump into but Ann? The race is then on to get on a ship and off to the mystery island Carl has been given a map to, where he wants to produce his film. Screenwriter Jack Driscoll (Aiden Brody) has to be convinced to stay long enough to finish the script, and a few other
minor problems must be overcome. The biggest problem of all comes, of course, when they reach the island and find out whats on it
Of course, with a film of this type, much depends on the quality of the special effects. In King Kong, the effects are a very mixed bag. Some are very good, some excellent, and others might as well have CGI or Blue Screen stamped on them, theyre that obvious. Unfortunately many of the earlier scenes are of the latter variety, and Im afraid that for me this meant the whole suspension of belief went out of the window. Follow that up with a script that had some strangely pointless or silly dialogue (when their compass starts behaving strangely, the ships Captain tells the first mate to get a reckoning then feeling the need to add by the stars well duh, Im no sailor but surely that would be the only logical thing for him to do and would be akin to telling an aircraft pilot to Land the plane
on the runway?!?) and a coincidence-ridden plot and were really starting to have some problems here. Add to this a runtime of 3 hours 7 minutes that feels really long, some more implausible aspects such as Carl still seeming to be in charge despite being universally despised and having caused the death of no less than 17 of the ships crew (out of a crew which hadnt seemed to reach double figures!) and the nails are already driven half-way into the coffin here.
Its a real shame because, as mentioned earlier, some of the effects really are good. Kong himself is well done most of the time, sometimes he just looks rather daft more than anything but that might be intentional as this film sets out to show that, despite his instinct to destroy everything around him, hes a loveable puppy really. The whole rips the limbs off anyone who comes near him but for no apparent reason develops a protective affection for attractive blonde doesnt really have much believability to it either. (This is of course not a fault of this version alone, but I believe Jackson wanted to explore the relationship between Kong and Ann more fully than in previous versions. He does this, but theres still no clue as to why Kong feels the way he does.) He acts like a petulant teenager for the first part of the film, and though you do feel sorry for him nearer the end when hes a prisoner and being attacked, youre not exactly cheering him on. Other questions that spring unbidden the mind are, why only one 25-foot high gorilla?, and this is also never answered. A problematic script passage is conveniently glossed over when Kong has to be transported many miles on a ship that doesnt seem much bigger than he is
but there you go, its easy to pick holes. Unfortunately all the holes added together leave a big gaping chasm where the plot credibility normally goes.
There are some good performances in this movie, Naomi Watts being very good in damsel in distress mode (albeit most of her acting is limited to the open-mouthed wide-eyed look she must have perfected a few days into shooting the film). Jack Black being perhaps slightly too comical but otherwise good as obsessed producer Carl, and Aiden Brody being very good as playwright Jack Driscoll. Other notable performances are Colin Hanks as Carls much more moral sidekick Preston, and Kyle Chandler as actor Bruce Baxter. Andy Serkis is Kong, not really very easy to say how good a job he did, and also puts in a memorable turn as Lumpy the Cook. Thomas Kretschmann as the ships Captain is also good although his character seems to lose his mind in one scene
Evan Parke as the first mate does a good job despite having me convinced throughout the whole movie that he was in fact Laurence Fishbourne!!
In typical Hollywood style, the male cast members are dropping like flies, dying gruesome and unimaginably horrible deaths, while the leading lady suffers not a scratch. There are plenty of action sequences, but again, as in other recent films, I just felt they ended up being so over the top that they lost all impact. (The reactions of the younger members of the audience to some of the creatures, especially the giant insects, was hilarious though! :-D) Lots happening but I just couldnt bring myself to care. A huge disappointment, but not entirely unexpected. The rating of PG-13 / 12A means that young kiddies can go and see it, but some scenes might be a little distressing for them. Oh, and if you have a phobia of spiders or insects
this film will either cure you or give you post traumatic stress syndrome!
2 stars is maybe a little harsh but I honestly struggled to stay awake throughout the whole movie. No doubt some people will love it, and maybe in terms of my comments about the special effects weve become a little spoilt by the quality of the SFX in other recent movies, but for me this just doesnt cut it. Not recommended, Im afraid.
Peter Jacksons Lord of the Rings trilogy:
The Fellowship of the Rings
The Two Towers
The Return of the King
Top Ten Films of 2005
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