Thursday, January 05, 2006


King Kong

1933, Cooper/Schoedsack

DVD, a few weeks ago

2005, Peter Jackson

Neptune, a few days ago

1933: 9
2005: 6

Peter Jackson's got a hell of a filmmaking machine down there in NZ. I think this movie might have been better had his budget and special effects skills been a bit less. The middle section of the film involved him doing things because he can and not because he should. The spiders, running along the shattering cliff, the running of the brontosauri, etc--neither nor effective. One of the great things about the fight between Kong and the T-Rex in the original is that they seemed quite evenly matched and (if you suspend your disbelief) you feel like you don't know who's going to win. In Jackson's version there are about six T-rex's. It's jaw-dropping technically, but that doesn't make it great filmmaking.

I *did* like that Jackson used the available technology to create a reciprical emotional bond between Ann and Kong. And, he rewrote the NY stuff to fit nicely with this development. I deeply love Jack Black the comic actor, but he's not up to this role. Naomi Watts, on the other hand, really is. Brody is fine, but the role isn't challenging for him. While they deliberately show how hokey the 1933 version of the Driscoll/Darrow romance was when they film the scene of it, the 2005 romance is just as hokey by modern standards, but that's OK because it's just not that important. (My major complaint plot-wise was the goofy Hayes/stowaway thing. Not a netism I use often, but...WTF?)

I wouldn't recommend missing this in a theatre, and for a three hour movie that, I think everyone can agree, desperately needed an editor, there was never really a time I was bored. Just frustrated. Jackson's a smart filmmaker, and he makes a number of smart choices in this film. Unfortunately those choices don't extend to the realm of special effects (and Jack Black).

I might not have been this critical had I not just screened the original.

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