King Kong

2006-07-12 17:02


New York, 1933: Maverick filmmaker Carl Denham (Jack Black) has convinced a starving actress named Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts), a brilliant playwright named Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody) and a crew of hardened sailors to travel with him to Singapore to finish his latest movie. Little do they know that Singapore is not their destination - instead Denham plans to find the legendary Skull Island and capture it on film. Against the wishes of the ship's captain (Thomas Kretschmann) they find their way to Skull Island, but the fate that awaits them there is far more terrible and life changing than any of them could ever imagine.


There's a moment in King Kong when you realise that not only are you utterly convinced that you're watching the antics of a real 25 foot tall silverback gorilla, but that you've actually fallen for this computer generated beast and he has become the true hero of the movie. It's in that moment that director Peter Jackson has you in the palm of his hand, and it's here that you feel the power of this astounding film most keenly.

To call King Kong epic would be a gross understatement. At more than three hours long the movie is twice the running time of most romantic comedies. And yet the film is so packed with drama, beauty, horror and spectacle that it feels more like half a dozen films compressed into one. It's an old-fashioned adventure yarn, a spectacular monster movie, a 1930s period piece, a meditation on ecology, a homage to early filmmakers - the list goes on and on.

But above all these things King Kong is really a tragic love story - the tale of two impossibly different beings finding solace in one another. It may seem ridiculous that a giant mythological ape and human woman could ever share such emotions - but Jackson makes it not only convincing but poignant.

In fact this is the key to the movie's success. Instead of using effects for effects sake, Jackson invests them with personality, emotion and significance. This keeps the film from slipping into the mode of a forgettable thrill ride like Jurassic Park - it lends it weight and dramatic substance.

This is not to say that King Kong's effects are anything less than thrilling. If Jackson and his team raised the bar for the Lord of the Rings films, they have raised it by twice that amount here. If anything these effects have finally achieved the ultimate goal - you no longer notice them. You are so utterly immersed in this perfectly fabricated reality - from the recreation of 1930s New York to the monster filled jungle of Skull island - that you eventually just give in and accept it as real.

Given the scale of the effects, it would have been easy for the (human) acting performances to take a back seat, but Jackson and his cast do an excellent job here. Naomi Watts is particularly impressive as the heroine, bringing real believability to her emotional scenes with Kong. Jack Black handles his part well enough, partly because his natural cheesiness complements the role so well. Adrien Brody is also good, though an actor of his dramatic talents is a little wasted on the role.

Credit must be given to Andy Serkis who played two roles in the film - the comical Lumpy the Cook, and Kong himself. How was this possible? Serkis, a brilliant physical actor who also played Gollum in Lord of the Rings, worked with the motion capture team to help make Kong's movements so startling lifelike. He also gave Naomi Watts a living creature to perform with, instead of a prop.

For all it's brilliance King Kong has its share of flaws. Though it hardly ever flags, it is really far too long. There's a 100 minute wait before you even catch a glimpse of Kong. The exposition in 1930s New York is worth the screen time, but the boat trip to Skull Island drags on for too long with very little point. Another minor problem is the dialogue. Most of the time it is fair to inoffensive, but there are a good couple of clangers, particularly during the boat trip.

A word of warning - parents should pay close attention to the age restriction on the film. The film's action sequences are graphic and, at times, terrifying. Watching a man be eaten alive by giant leeches is not recommended for sensitive 10-year-olds, even if you happen to be sitting next to them.

So what's the bottom line on Kong? Is it clumsy at times? Yes. Is it self indulgent and even pretentious at times? Definitely. But is it also brilliant and breathtaking? Without a doubt. Peter Jackson has taken a simple but powerful story from Hollywood's past and inflated it with his own wild dreams and ambitions. The result is a special moment in film history. Don't miss it.

- Alistair Fairweather

Peter Jackson's King Kong lives up its name - an enormous, savage, powerful and utterly captivating film. Don't miss it.

Stiffler 2005/12/15 10:17 AM
KK I enjoyed it tremendously ... very good.
MM 2005/12/15 3:00 PM
PM Harry Potter Harry Potter
MM 2005/12/15 3:00 PM
PM Harry Potter Harry Potter
DEON 2005/12/15 3:22 PM
abraham 2005/12/18 7:20 PM
kingkong kingkong kingkong
kay 2005/12/19 9:36 AM
Spectacular! Spectacular! Absolutely brilliant, it's a must-see. I was on the edge of my (very small) cinema seat the entire time. Laughter, love, tears and giant bugs - this movie has everything including the big monkey.
Adam 2005/12/19 2:30 PM
Is it really worth seeing? Is this movie really worht seeing? Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Rick 2005/12/19 2:33 PM
looks cool Pritty good movie story line whas good. cool movie good to watch
M93A 2006/01/07 9:20 AM
Just too long Good story and special effects but there is some unecessary scene and some scenes drag on forever. Wallace and Grommit
joey 2007/06/20 1:21 AM
if not, why not the first half is a bit jurassic, the second rather dramatic. the whole movie drags, like forgetting to lift anchor before you set sail. interesting story. if you like to see a big monkey, some dinosaurs, rather good special effects and have about three hours to spare, go for it.
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