Thursday, December 15, 2005

Decades Later, Kong Still Rules!

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
What great force exists -- at least in the realm of cinema – that could make me end my two-month long hiatus from movie reviewing on this blog? You’d better believe that a 25-foot tall gorilla could do the trick! Yes, after more than 70 years, King Kong rules. And this time, he is bigger, better, and more consistently-sized than ever!

Set in the same time period as the 1933 original, Peter Jackson’s highly-hyped and well-intentioned remake introduces a score of new and impressively revised characters. The best of these – aside from the beloved, but equally doomed simian – is Ann Darrow, played by a haunted Naomi Watts who brings a tenderness to the role that the late Fay Wray wasn't able to convey. Rather than screaming loudly - which she of course does throughout the film - Ann interacts with Kong, who is able to express a great range of emotions, thanks to Andy Serkis who provided the emotions for Lord of The Rings' Gollum. No longer is Ann debased to merely being a blonde-bombshell and the object of desire for the great ape, she comes to be a loving companion and through the captured gazes exchanged between them, they seem to have a quiet understanding of each other.

But this would not be a Peter Jackson movie without masterful special effects, CGI, and loads of action scenes. In that aspect, Kong more than delivers. Though a lot of the scenes occur at break-neck speed, and in spite of a few seams in the special effects (such as when the crew slides down the leg of a brontosauraus), this movie delivers some of the best and most dizzying action sequences ever put to film. A breathtaking battle between the giant gorilla (who holds Ann in his grip) and three T-Rexs puts the special effects in Jurrasic Park to utter shame. I'd see the film again just for that one sequence. And of course, Jackson throws in some (in my opinion, unecessary) creatures on Skull Island to stir things up. If you don't like bugs or fear them half as much as I do, consider closing your eyes for this part, ladies.

The storyline itself is much more thoughtful than the 1933 film, though there are many throwbacks and nods to the B-rate original. Still, I can't help but feel that this is a case of the artist being a little too close to his work. Jackson's affection for Kong is evident - especially in the buildup to the fateful final on top the Empire State Building - but at times, it borders on being too much. Though I agree with keeping the audience in suspense waiting for over an hour before catching a glimpse of it's star character, there are a lot of instances where details could better have been cut down (such as the extensive footage of the creepy, white-eyed natives who capture Ann as a sacrifice to Kong -- and, of course, the bugs).

Still, this is the stuff that great movies are made of: heart-pounding action, non-stop drama, and a romance that runs deep (on so many levels). And yet, it is also able to tug at the heart-strings (and tear ducts, in my case) quite a bit. To try to say more would be pointless. I highly recommend that you see it for yourself. Decades later and Kong still reigns, in the jungle and surely, this time around too, at the box-office.

16 comments:

JonnyUps said...

you are my dream girl. ;) action, adventure...heck yes!

great review, i had doubts just because it could have been lame. but you changed my mind completely.

Corry said...

I had actually decided not to see it but after reading your review...I just have to!

God's Grace.

Pia said...

this is one of the movies i don't want to miss. i've yet to watch narnia and P&P.

Nunzia said...

I really enjoyed Narnia. My expectations for it weren't that high, given I know the story is rather simple, but they were definitely exceeded.

John Kenneth Muir said...

Hey Nunzia! Your review is great. Very thoughtful. Of course, I'm an old guy (36...) so I have some generational and cult loyalty to Fay Wray and what you call a B-rate original(!!!) :).

But you capture the essence of the movie - which we both agree is pretty fantastic (and a rollercoaster ride)!

I liked your piece a lot. Looking forward to your next movie review. Seen Syriana yet? I'm supposed to go for my wife's birthday this weekend...

clew said...

Great review! I don't think I'm going to see it ... I've seen the others and the story is so sad ... I feel so sorry for him.

I do want to see Narnia though. It was my favorite book as a kid - I'm interested to see what they do with it!

Khyron said...

Nice review nunzia. I hope word of mouth and reviews like this helps to get people in the theatre.

After seeing it I was sure this would be a hit, but then I saw the Drudge headline 'King Bomb'. Just a shame the Wed. opening wasnt as it should have been.

forgiven said...

Thank You for the review

God Bless your day

Nunzia said...

I do too.. It seems that a lot of people were put off by the idea, which I didn't expect. I blame the marketing mostly. Look at the teasers/trailers for Memoirs of a Geisha (which I've heard is really bad) they are so well done that you WANT to see the movie. The Kong ads and commercials I have seen (which I hardly have seen them) were not very appealing. For such a great film - and one that costs so many million dollars to make - more resources should have been devoted to marketing.

Kc said...

Well it seems from Corry's comment that your review has sealed my fate! ;-)

Bill Scott, Sr. said...

I do want to see this movie.

Josh said...

i was just writing my own review of this :) nice one.

Max Muchacho said...

A thrilling and exciting movie that concentrates on the true meaning of friendship and love.

"A beast weakened by a beauty." Part of the script from the movie that make me believe in it.

I agree with you,Nunzia. Cheers and Thumbs Up.

joy said...

Thanks for visiting my blog nunzia! :) Reading your review of this movie has me wanting to go see it now. Thanks for a great review!

PastorKarl said...

good review... thanks for posting on my blog. i think a woman's view of the whole 'woman-ape-love' was helpful to read. And while we may disagree on a few points, I TOTALLY agree that the Kong vs. the T-Rexes is alone reason to see it again. (which i will when my brother is in town)

Rick's Corner said...

I was going to pass on this, but will now give consideration. I don't go to the movies much these days.

Tonight, Debbi (my wife) and I went with another couple to see an Israeli movie. First Israeli movie I have ever seen, in Hebrew with subtitles. About an Orthodox couple. Religious, but happy and sad, and more action than you'd think as it deals with some of the dark side in the community.

Called Ushpizin. Worth seeing, but it may not be available everywhere. Check it out on the web.