King Kong (DVD, 2006, Anamorphic Widescreen) Reviews
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King Kong (DVD, 2006, Anamorphic Widescreen)

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Kong - you've gotten fat: King Kong

May 25, 2009 (Updated Jun 12, 2009)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Jack Black plays a straight role; Special effects

Cons:Overlong, draggy, does not add meaningfully to the original idea, No soul

The Bottom Line: An overlong, draggy rendition of the old King Kong movie with year 2000 CGI. Not worth writing home about.


King Kong (2005)

I'd watched the original 1933 King Kong on DVD not long ago so I had a good idea in mind of exactly what I'd liked about it and was impressed by Faye Wray's good looks and the solid performances of all the major players.  Yes, the monster was photographed using models and moving them slightly between frames to simulate motion but the technique was cutting edge at the time and still evokes a smile when you see it.  The old King Kong was a low bucks adventure film and pretended to be nothing else; therefore it is fully accepted as one of the best of the best. Bim bam bop - it was over in 100 minutes.

In contrast, Peter Jackson's King Kong is a live actor (Andy Serkis) impersonating a gorilla surrounded by a CGI universe that bores you with excess in its more than 3-hour running length. An epic length is justified if there is an epic story to tell - but King Kong is still the same-old giant ape story as before, with some embellishments and digressions, but nothing worth writing home about. Sometimes more is less as this movie more than demonstrates.

The story takes about five minutes to tell - B movie group goes to island, finds giant ape, brings ape back to NYC, puts him on display, chaos ensues.  Added to the mix is a pretty blond who gets under the ape's skin and seems to get under hers also.  This basic skeleton is bloated with so much extra nonsense: killer insects; storms; dinosaurs; giant worms; vampire bats; other unnamable dangerous critters; unhappy tribesmen; storms; falling off cliffs a number of times; swinging from vines; shoot outs; and general digressions with minor characters who will never be part of the main story tied together with travelogue footage generated on the CGI computers.

The acting is not bad with Jack Black playing the motion picture director in one of the few straight roles I've seen him play.  Naomi Watts plays the blond Ann Darrow - the Fay Wray role.  Adrien Brody plays the script writer Driscoll, and of course the giant ape is a guy in an ape suit sometimes. I believe it's mostly his face that is the actor's contribution and the body and movements are CGI generated.  This Kong does not have the attractiveness of the old 1933 model with its human facial expressions. And the "love" between beauty and beast frankly creeped me out with Naomi Watts staring lustfully at the big ole brute for minute-long takes. I liked the suggestion of the beauty loves the beast provided by the 1933 version much better.  The Adrien Brody character who also had the hots for Ann had to stare lustfully at her from the wings like a fifth wheel as she stared lustfully at the gorilla.

The CGI of Times Square NY circa 1933 was some of the best and will please people who like NY with the old cars and buildings amid the glitzy advertising.  The added adventure stuff with the irritating slo-mo does not add to the story and seems like needless padding. Even the fighter plane attack on the Empire State Building seems drawn out and overdone.

The Universal DVD comes in both 2.35:1 and full screen color versions and runs 188 minutes either way.  I didn't get the enhanced version with the extras because I know how CGI is generated and another explanation of that is not on my agenda.

The 2005 King Kong is only for those who are fans of the new generation of filmmakers. Everybody else can see the 1933 version, which is much better.


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