Published on December 19th, 2005 | by Erich Becker0
Review: King Kong
King Kong is an amazing achievement in filmmaking, and even with all the buzz surrounding the three hour length of the film, or the questionable casting of some parts, the film still manages to stun the audience in amazement.
Truly, after viewing the original only a week prior to seeing the remake I can say that the 2005 version of the film rivals that of its predecessor in many categories and is a far superior film as far as depth of story and visual effects. This isn’t to say that the original 1933 version is cinema trash, it still holds a special place in the eyes of many film students and film fans as an achievement in special effects and originality.
Director Peter Jackson has taken some creative liberties in the way his King Kong relates to the original (we won’t even mention the 1970’s version). The long lost “spider pit” scene has been restored to the script and turns out to be one of the creepiest and most hopeless scenes in the film as our heroes struggle to survive under the onslaught of dozens of large arachnids and other assorted creatures. The culminating and mouth-dropping scene of an Allisaurus and King Kong locked in battle from the original has been broadened to contain a much longer battle and feature three dinosaurs instead of just one.
The story itself has been infused with a lot more emotion and many more scenes in which you see the true feelings Kong has for Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts). Just as the original the girl in distress is scared of the 25-foot beast, but as she comes to understand him more, and he truly begins to fall for her, the story is almost heart-wrenching as you know the ending to the film long before it happens and the impact is still as prevalent as even. I won’t lie, I really wanted to cry at the end of the film as the script by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Jackson really does strike an emotional cord with the movie-goer.
The remakes story mirrors that of the original in most aspects. Filmmaker Carl Denham’s (Jack Black) latest film is going to be sold off as stock footage, so he rushes his production crew aboard a charted ship headed for Skull Island to use the ruins of a lost civilization as a backdrop. After his leading lady drops out, Denham spies Ann Darrow stealing an apple from a newsstand and saves her in a bind (a nice throwback to the original’s beginning predicament and meeting between Darrow and Denham). Denham enlists the young beauty to star in his film and they quickly rush off to catch the boat where Ann finally gets to meet playwright Jack Driscoll (Adrian Brody) whom she has longed to gain an audition with. From there we travel to Skull Island and the fun of traversing through a lost world begins.
The extra hour on the run time compared to the original’s 107 minutes goes towards character development and the fleshing out of some new additions to the cast. For the most part this extra hour is hardly noticed as the bits of humor and action Jackson is able to provide give the audience enough to remain interested until the meat of the film takes over after Kong is introduced about 60 minutes in.
The stunning Naomi Watts seems like the perfect choice to take over the role pioneered by Fay Wray and she pull off the role with flying colors as the conflicted beauty caught between the love of an ape and a man. Brody in the modified role of Jack Driscoll also does an adequate job of pulling off the “action man” who sets out to save Ann from the clutches of the beast. The only real role that seems miscast is that of Carl Denham. Jack Black pulls off the role, there’s no question about that, but the persona that we’ve come to expect from him just seems to throw the audience off. You’re waiting for his sly smirk to turn into a wailing laugh as he breaks out in a musical number about sausage. And while he won’t get as much recognition as he deserves, Andy Serkis once again pulls off an amazing motion capture performance as Kong.
There’s so much to say about King Kong that it’s almost impossible to get to it all in this short of a review. There’s just nothing that can detract from the cinematic masterpiece that is Peter Jackson’s remake of the 1933 classic. Just as he did with The Lord of the Rings, Jackson once again solidifies himself as one of the premiere filmmakers in Hollywood with a knack for both inspiring action and heart felt emotion. Only one viewing of King Kong would be a disservice to the picture as there’s so much to follow and so much to see in the film that it nearly demands repeat viewings only to show you how well it has been constructed. In a year when the box office has continued to tank week after week and sequels and shills seem to be the standard Hollywood fare it’s nice to see that there’s still some emotion in filmmaking.