Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Movie Review: King Kong

On the March Hare scale: 4 Golden Tickets out of 5. We all enjoyed it.

This movie is director Peter Jackson's homage to the 1933 version of King Kong, starring Fay Wray. And the film does have that early-30's feel to it, not only with costumes and sets, but dialogue, too.

Mr. Jackson tried to stick closely with the original script. DD#1, who watched the original version on cable recently, said that Mr. Jackson did a pretty good job.

Word of warning: this film is 3 hours long. No intermission. I do not recommend drinking a large soda just before or during the film.

How good was this film? Hubs sat through the whole thing.

Most of the film takes place (or seems to, anyway) before the humans even get to Skull Island. This part is rather slow, maybe because we know what's coming and what the crew is going to find, and I, for one, couldn't wait to get there.. But there are gems of moments scattered throughout the setup. Adrien Brody, Jack Black, and Naomi Watts are well-cast in their roles as the Playwright, the Movie Producer, and the Girl. The relationship between the Playwright and the Girl develops leisurely. DD#2 thought the Movie Producer was stupid; I thought he was just so single-minded that he couldn't recognize the consequences of his actions.

Mr. Jackson refers to events that were happening in the '30's, actors and actresses (including Fay Wray) and movies from the period, popular literature (Conrad's Heart of Darkness). I also liked the Supporting Cast--their dialogue hinted at a substantial backstory that gave them a history with each other and some depth (as opposed to "Jedi #1" or "Crewman #2").

On the downside: the natives on Skull Island aren't terribly sympathetic and were, in fact, rather cartoonish.

Kong himself is played by Andy Serkis, who played Golem in LOTR. Not only were Mr. Serkis's facial expressions used for the CGI Kong, Mr. Serkis actually played opposite Ms. Watts so that she (and Kong) could react against each other. That makes their scenes so much more convincing than if she were acting to a tennis ball against a green screen. Much trust and love (?) seems to develop between Kong and the Girl. Great scene in Central Park with Kong and the Girl and a frozen pond. Quite lyrical.

On the downside, I caught myself thinking: "Stockholm Syndrome?" I mean, would I be so forgiving of a large gorilla who carried me about like a doll?

And, yes, Virginia, there is a moral to this story. Just the same as in 1933.

See this movie in the theater, on a big screen. This is a movie meant to be enjoyed as a communal experience. It has a PG-13 rating for the violence and the intensity of the action. Frankly, kids much younger than 10 won't be able to sit through three hours, anyway.