King Kong (revisited)by Anthony Selbitschka
SPOILER WARNING!! - This review assumes you know the basic presmise or story line of King Kong; including the ending. If you'd rather be surprised, come back after seeing the film. If this is you, what planet have you been living on?
A review by Anthony Selbitschka
Let’s start with what was good. The performances from all characters, human and CGI, were fantastic. Naomi Watts was perfect in her role as Kong’s sacrificial-blonde-turned-love-interest. Whether delivering a vaudevillian pratfall, a horrific scream, or a compassionate glance, Watts was convincing (especially considering that she did her acting without the help of a real 25-foot gorilla). Jack Black was probably panned for overacting, but I think he played the role of a sleazy producer with appropriate cheese. Besides one awkward line ("The airplanes didn’t kill him… Beauty killed the beast.") I had no problem with Black. No matter how good the human actors’ performances were, they are completely overshadowed by Kong’s. Wow, that monkey can ACT! Kong’s facial expressions were so perfectly executed that we can see a subtle pain and sadness behind the roars. It’s a very complex role and it’s acted wonderfully. Bravo to the CGI nerds. Also speaking of CGI, the scenery and backdrops were beautiful: New York skylines to dense jungle.
Most of the action sequences are engrossing and fun. Jackson is adept at introducing a new twist or camera angle to his scenes that adds enough creativity to separate his films from the heap of adventure flicks. Let’s face it: we’ve seen it all. We’ve seen monsters fight aliens who fight predators who fight humans who fight swordsmen. We are calloused and we need something new to make our action exciting again. Jackson delivers here. There are a number of "Wow" scenes that made me love adventure movies again. There’s a long sequence with T-Rexes that will go down as one of the best action sequences…EVER. With that said, I found myself getting bored as these action sequences went on and on and on and on. (and on.) We see a bunch of creepy insects. Our heroes fight 'em and they die. Then another wave comes in just like the first one. Those die, and another wave comes in. The story is put on hold now and we find ourselves merely waiting for the scene to be over. Just kill the damn insects already! It’s been a good fifteen minutes! The insect sequence is one example of many. Almost every sequence could have been helped by some editing as I felt ready for each scene to move on before Mr. Jackson did.
This is a three hour film and we don’t see Kong until the film is nearly half-over. I liked this touch. I was engrossed in the ol' time New York hustle and bustle topped with Jack Black’s over-the-top performance. We are also introduced to each important character along the way in a more natural manner (compare to the ID-4 / Armageddon force-fed exposition where all major characters are set up within 15 minutes before the action starts). Again, Jackson's direction separates his adventures from the rest. This is an important point: Jackson added enough human elements to his version of King Kong that I actually took it seriously. I didn't consider it just another adventure flick. I had more at stake with each character’s actions as I was emotionally tied to them. As I considered Kong "above" other action flicks, I also felt the need to question the point of it all…
Kong is a horribly tragic story that dangles love in front of a character only to rip him away from his natural environment, poke at him a bit, then kill him. On the other hand, it’s a friggin’ CGI 25-foot gorilla! Should I really be taking it this seriously? I couldn’t get into the escapist adventure because I was too emotionally tied to the characters. I couldn’t get too emotionally involved in the main character because he’s a gorilla. This bizarre intermingling threw me off and I was a bit distracted. In short, Kong is too dramatic for adventure and too adventure for drama. Jackson pulled off a well-executed, detailed, serious take on the classic story. Problem is, the story stinks and doesn’t deserve the treatment Jackson gave it. Kong was better left as a throwaway adventure and Jackson’s attention to detail merely exposed its story’s flaws.