Thursday, March 9, 2017

Movie Review: KING KONG (2005)

King Kong (2005) is directed by acclaimed Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson. After the wild success he had adventuring in Middle Earth, Jackson made this passion-project remake of the 1933 film King Kong. It follows essentially the same story, a filmmaker and his crew recruit a beautiful woman and travel to a mysterious island where they encounter a bunch of frightening creatures including one giant ape that they bring back to New York where havoc ensues. The film stars Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrein Brody, and frequent Jackson-collaborator Andy Serkis.

Given Jackson’s past with making B-horror movies, it isn’t surprising that he’d have such passion and care for a classic creature feature like King Kong. This film covers the content of the original King Kong in its near entirety and vastly expands upon it, stretching an hour and forty-five-minute film into a three-hour epic. What I think this does most effectively is faithfully retell the story of the original while offering meaningful updates to that piece that make it much more watchable as a modern audience member. The film gets a little too indulgent to a fault, however, and the film drags a lot and has many moments of extreme cheese.

As mentioned above I think this film succeeds in being an effective and enthralling retelling of a classic story. By capturing the original beat for beat, this film retains the magic of that story and the elements that really work. It captures you from the beginning and you can readily follow along step by step of the decisions that the different individuals come to make throughout. It also causes you to care about Kong when we roll through the ending and with what happens to him. It gives it a certain effectiveness and power that an unfaithful telling would not be able to achieve.

On top of its strong faithfulness, Peter Jackson’s King Kong succeeds because it successfully updates all of the problems from the original film. The acting has much more nuance, the effects and situations are more believable, and you feel the impact of what is going on on screen. That’s an extremely effective thing to have in your film. Jackson really knows how to make some truly nightmare-ish scenarios happen and one involving hyper-large insects still makes my skin crawl.

I also found the motion capture work and the visualization of King Kong to be extremely effective. Although it comes nowhere close to what Serkis and performance capture teams have accomplished with his later works in the Planet of the Apes films, King Kong is still fairly advanced and the use of performance captured enabled greater emotion and connection to Kong than any attempt previous. In addition to Serkis, the work Black and Watts do in the film is really solid and adds a certain resonance that the disjointed performances in the original lacked.

Jackson’s King Kong isn’t all that and a bag of chips though. The film suffers from gargantuan pacing issues and has an unusual (and off-putting) lack of realism and cheese for a film in this day in age. By extending what was a short and tight film to something that is almost double in length, Jackson had to add several elements but he also saw fit to draw out many others. The first hour of this film, for example, is all set up material that could have easily been covered in half the time or less and ends up dragging such that I was near catatonic by the time we finally got to the main events of the story. This really didn’t work and made the film feel really ineffectively slow.

The film also suffers from being overly faithful to the original story to the point that it retains a level of cheese and lack of realism that makes the film feel divorced from a recognizable reality.  There are some extremely over the top and on the nose lines (particularly the one that closes the film) to the point that I lost a degree of care for what was going on in the film. It also evolves several moments of zaniness that felt out of line with some of the terrors shown elsewhere. Finally, a number of the visuals in this film haven’t held up well. Kong himself looks ok, and the large insects looked undoubtedly horrifying, but the environments and the dinosaurs really haven’t aged well making the film look more like a computer animated film than something set in the real world.

Overall, I think Jackson’s King Kong is a fair effort at this classic story and I think that it works as an effective-enough modern retelling to merit its place in cinematic history. It updates in all the ways it needs to by adding nuance and getting you invested in what is going on, but it does so at the expense of effective pacing and failing to update as effectively as it ought to in certain areas.

Ryan’s Score: 6/10

Make sure to check us out and like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram for all of our reviews, news, trailers, and much, much more!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment