Thursday, December 29, 2005

King Long: A Love Song To Kong

A Movie Review

Peter Jacksons massive three hour version of the consummate giant primate flick King Kong, is the fulfillment of a life-long dream of the directors. Producer Marion C. Coopers iconic 1933 film version of Kong was the cinematic spectacle that propelled the young New Zelander to a life in motion pictures. The Lord of the Rings director was able to make his boyhood movie-making dream come true by virtue of being the Lord of the Rings director. After the success of the recordbreaking trilogy based on the novels of J. R. R. Tolken, Jackson had enough clout in Hollywood to make any film that he wanted, so it is no surprise that he chose to make this one. The joy that Peter had in bringing Kong back to the screen is evident throughout this lavishly produced picture, however it is that same quality of exuberance about the story that makes the whole movie fee bothl over-done and over-blown.

I admit that I have never seen Coppers original Kong, or its 1976 remake (which I hear is awful), but I am perhaps more versed in the story then most of my peers, owing to my having read the tale as simplified children's book when I was in elementary school. Jackosn keeps the stories original early 1930's setting, and the opening scenes establishing depression era New York City, as well as the fabulous CG renditions of downtown Manhattan and Central Park are very well done. Jack Black is struggling film producer Carl Denham, who has just had the financing pulled from an overly ambitious film project (read: Peter Jackson worst nightmare). Needing to get away to start production before his former backers reposes his equipment, Denham succeeds in conning a number of individuals into setting sail with him to the mysterious 'Skull Island' where he intends to shoot his picture. Among his recruits is down on her luck performer Ann Darrow, played by the very pretty Naomi Watts, whom I have been impressed with sense seeing her performance in Mulholland Dr., a movie in which she also plays an aspiring actress. Also conned by Denham is distinguished playwrite Jack Driscoll (whats with these D names), played by Adrien Brody, as well as the somewhat hollow (though not altogether unredeemable) actor Bruce Baxter (Kyle Chandler). Denhams camera and sound men, as well as the crew of S. S. Venture are also fooled by the 'convincing' producer.

Upon arriving on the island we encounter what we would expect out of a King Kong movie, creepy ruins, angry natives, unusually large insects, dinosaurs, and of course the giant ape. The whole middle section of the movie consists of a series of chases and fight scenes, which while very well done and exciting at first, do get kind of tiresome after a while. Eventually Dirscol (who has fallen in love with Ann) and the crew manage to get Ms. Darrow back from King Kong (who has also fallen in love with Ann), who was given to the big lonely monkey by some rather nasty looking locals. Before leaving 'Skull Island' however, Denham and the crew of Venture use a luckely available and large supply of chloroform to knock-out Kong so that they can take him back to the states to show for money. Of course the logistics of the battered crew transporting Kong from 'Skull Island', which is south of Malaysia, to New York City seems at the very lest less then probable.

Kongs Broadway debut turns out rather badly when the giant best breaks through his chains and takes to the streets looking for his preferred leading lady, he didn't take well to Namoni's replacement, i.e. he killed her. After picking up and tossing away every young blond he comes across (insert all men are pigs joke here), Kong and Ann are reunited and, I kid you not, go play on the ice in Central Park. Of course the whole thing ends with the Kings fatefull fall off the Empire State Building, shot down by Peter Jackson and other members of the production team in propeller-driven airplanes. King Kong is overwrought in many ways including its repeated attempts to equate itself with Conrads Heart of Darkness, but it is still good fun for the movie loving child in all of us.


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