Directed by Peter Jackson.
Written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson.
Starring Naomi Watts, Jack Black, and Adrien Brody.
Release Year: 2005
Review Date: 12/14/05
"The Lord of the Rings" trilogy director
Peter Jackson announced, soon after winning the Oscar for Best
Picture with his third "LOTR" flick
"The Return of the King", that he would next work on the remake
of "King Kong." I remember at the time thinking
Jeez, that's about the worst fucking idea
but I backed up, because clearly, the man
has figured out something in making the "LOTR" trilogy that might
make "King Kong" worth watching. Then, I saw the trailer for
"King Kong" this past summer, and I said it again,
Jeez, that's about the worst fucking idea
but I had to admit, the preview wasn't as
bad as I thought the idea was...and, I kept reminding myself that
this was Peter Jackson, Suddenly Legendary Filmmaker. Then,
they released the second version of the "King Kong" trailer, and
then, it hit me:
Jeez, this might actually be pretty good
because that second trailer--the one that
starts out with no sound and just a shot of the big ape looking at
that hot tamale Naomi Watts--had the look of movie gold.
With that in mind, I came into "King Kong"
anxious to see it, not loathing the experience. And, in most
areas, Ape Man delivers. Watts stars as Annie, a struggling
vaudeville actress that is in need of steady work fast, since she's
out of cash and damn near out of options. Enter famous
filmmaker Carl Denham (Jack Black), who just had his leading lady
back out of his new film, a love story/adventure that will be set on
the high seas and Singapore...IF he can land a new actress, oh,
right now. He meets Annie and immediately tries to lure her
into working on the film, which is still being written by stage
writer/producer Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody), and the threesome set
sail on a dodgy steamer to get to the Far East...which is really
Denham's attempt to find a lost island that will serve as the
backdrop for his film. Unfortunately, when that island is
found...well, let's just say that King Kong lives there, because he
The biggest problem that I had with "King
Kong" is certainly its length; at 190 minutes, you are talking about
a long time to watch the remake of a film that you probably have
seen before or certainly know the ending of before entering the
theater. This movie is so long that we don't even get to the
island where Kong Man lives until Hour 2. That's a long time
to wait to meet Kong, and the film can only fill so much of that
time with assorted throwaway subplots and characters that are
destined to meet their fate before giving us what we came to see.
That being said, at least Jackson makes the
Kong entrance and the adventure on Skull Island quite cool.
Special effects once again rule the day here, as Andy Serkis (the
man that played Gollum in the "LOTR" films) gives Kong life as the
actor that was used to mimic the ape's movements. Jackson does
a great job of incorporating Kong's emotions into the required Kong
battles between Kong and man, Kong and bat, Kong and T-Rex and Kong
and large insects. The atmosphere on the island is spooky; the
various baddies look like they were leftovers from the trilogy but
that isn't a bad thing; the action is so-so but it is fairly
continuous, which helps pacing immensely during a way-too-long
motion picture. And, strangely, the quasi-romance between
Annie and Kong isn't completely ridiculous, as I remember it being
in the original film; here, I don't think we pretend that Annie is
really loving this creature so much as thankful for his protective
nature (at least, in her case). I mean, shit, Kong kills
hundreds of people, dozens of beasts, and destroys millions of
dollars' worth of otherwise good real estate. But, Annie seems
more caught up in being hurt that others don't see that he has a
good side, rather than loving Kong's playful nature with the ladies.
Maybe this doesn't make sense to you, but
when you see it hopefully you'll get what I mean. The bottom
line is that Annie/Kong is either going to make you laugh out loud
at how silly it is or make you soak up Watts' performance for how
good it is, and I choose the latter. The performances in
general are okay with this movie, not great like they were in the
trilogy; this is because both of the other two main roles are a tad
silly and, in Black's case, just played by the wrong actor.
Black actually plays his role well, but he turns out to be too
recognizable as a comedic lead to make this part work. Both of
the male stars brought co-stars from their other works (Black
brought Colin Hanks from "Orange County"; Brody snatched up German
actor Thomas Kretschmann from their work in
"The Pianist" to
play the steamer captain), so their roles here are not in
vain...but, one other minor problem I had here was in the casting,
which outside of Watts just isn't as strong as I thought it would be
given Jackson's new stature in the world.
Otherwise, I thought "King Kong" was great.
It's a very slow starter, but the final two hours are great
entertainment, mixing true adventure with a little sprinkle of
drama, romance and horror. The look of the film is great, Kong
is great, we get some bodybags and some laughs, too. The best
part of the experience? The trailers in front of the film.
As the first big event film of the season for adults, you should
have teasers for "The Da Vinci Code", "M:I-3", "Miami Vice" (the
Michael Mann update is worth the price of admission by itself) and
the upcoming thriller "Inside Man", with a whopper of a cast--Denzel,
Clive, and Jodie.
Hey, at least you'll get your money's worth
for sitting in the theater for more than three hours!
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard