Thursday, December 22, 2005
I've been waiting for this film since I was six years old. Oh! What a visually striking film this was! Oh what gorgeous monsters! What astounding stunts! What stunning cinamatography.
Oh how I wanted to like this film.....alas....
...it's NOT a great film I am very sad to say.
It seems that Peter Jacksons superb editing powers eminated from his fat, and with its departure have left him.
Seriously,I really wanted to like this film, which was obviously a labour of love, however, the movie is almost like fanfic in the way it delves into the minutia if every aspect of the Kong mythos and reimagines it. Peter Jackson is a SUPERB filmaker and WETA is the absolute King of the FX hill. There is no shoddy direction here, just an inability to edit.
The old film had an almost manic pace and tightness in part because Cooper had the discipline to cut some very hard won scenes like the near legendary spider hell scene (See above for one of the few extant frames) to maintain pace and focus. (It was NOT as is often assumed removed by the Hayes code). Jackson and his crack team of Kongophiles marched into this determined to do those scenes we geeks all have wanted to see for decades, and they carry the sheer wonderment of the effects themselves off with panache.
The problem is that the rythym of the movie is broken markedly by undeniably impressive effects scenes that often seem too long or just gratuitous. One scene in particular, an awesome, jaw dropping battle between Kong and 3 Carnosaurs does sucsessfully amaze...for the first 3 or so minutes...then one begins to notice the time...and the sheer outlandishness as Kong and the T-Rex wannabes battle like martial artists amongst the....um...trees as they...er...do trapeeze stunts...
There are, additionally, stupid lapses in charachter judgement worthy of a teen slasher flick.. ( lessee, the ONLY thing keeping the creepy-crawlies at bay is that ONE magnesium flare...lets sit and talk while it burns out).
Naomi Watts as Ann Darrow is superbly cast and portrays a smart, and brave woman who survives by sheer wits while in a nigh untenable situation in the jungle, but towards the end of the film she pretty much becomes the poster child for Stockholm Syndrome (but for furries).
Other issues I had were Ken speciffic as they stemed more from me just being a geek of the old film. Having Denham being a near sociopath was off-putting. Despite WETAs New Zealand roots, he seems to be a concession to the PC-Hollywood standard of needing a villain...and of course he's the dynamic character, thus he "must" be wicked. Everyone else is a victim of his drive in one way or another, almost as glaring an example is Jack Driscoll the male (human) lead. No longer the self assured and extremely competent first mate of the ship, who had been with Denham on a number of adventures, he is now a slightly neurotic playwright shanghied (and therefore victimized enough to pass PC muster as a protagonist) on the adventure. Brody does well with the charchter and he is certainly heroic, though it strains credulity that the charachter as portrayed could survive any of the dangers of Skull Island, let alone pull the rescue off. He seems to almost be a sort of cinematic Mary Sue charachter for the creators (though in fairness the '33 versions Denham was likely a similar portrayal of Merian C. Cooper...a bonified hero).
Kongs name is never mentioned prior to the marquee except by a native witch in such a way as to not inform our band of protagonists.
There was no mention of the legend of Kong. Only a reference to the island being dangerous...from the mate and the cook...who relayed the 'norwegian barque story' of the original...to Denham....leaving one to wonder where Denham got his map.
Were those really 3 foot long wetas meanacing our heroes? ahem.... :)
Yes I'm a geek....Before it was destroyed in the waterheater fiasco I had a rare copy of the huge and comprehensive The Making Of King Kong and have been a Kong aficianado for years.
I must say again it was gorgeous, just disjointed....these pretty pieces might well have been trimmed to make a fine 2 hour film.
Note that SOME editing did take place as this scene that figured in the trailer WAS omited...more of this please.
UPDATE: Fixed the first image.
Also, I must say that I am a raging fanboy so I have no constructive suggestions on WHAT to cut. :)