By Amy Lamare, December 14, 2005
Let me begin by saying King Kong (KKONG) the beast, as realized by Peter Jackson (PJACK) and his special effects crew is one of the most loveable beasts this side of E.T. His eyes are soulful, his personality shines through his forbidding exterior and, in short, I wanted to take him home and protect him so that he would never climb the Empire State Building and die.
That said, this 3 hour plus epic film is the very definition of a director’s self-indulgence. Peter, we know you excel at effects and monsters and films on a grand scale, we all saw Lord of the Rings. I thought you were the perfect choice to direct this film, and not just because of your personal life long love of all things Kong. But you lost me. You lost me so many times in this film that I had time to think of all the ways it didn’t work. Oh and it worked in many ways too, but when you cross the 180 minute mark, you run the risk of alienating a large part of the audience. After all, the beloved, original 1933 Kong was 100 minutes. And in some ways, even more heart wrenching in its tale of beauty and the beast.
Visually, this movie is stunning. Think of it as Lord of the Rings meets Jurassic Park. The battle between Kong and the T-Rexes is so real you forget its all CGI. The Hulk, this isn’t my friends. But the most stunning moments in the film are between Naomi Watts’ (NWATT) Ann Darrow and Kong. And there are far too few of those for this viewer. Nearly 90 minutes into the film we meet a very angry Kong. He comes to take the sacrificial blonde from the violent and horrifying ceremony the natives of Skull Island put on. And when I say horrifying I mean, people, don’t take young kids to this. This scene played out like an elaborate rape scene crossed with some voodoo el Diablo freaky magic circa Angel Heart.
So now Kong and Ann are together and it takes them a bit to figure each other out. It takes her awhile to trust him. That all works. The most beautiful parts of this movie are the relationships Ann has with Kong and Ann has with Adrien Brody’s (ABROD) Jack Driscoll. Jack Black (JBLAC) is darkly humorous as the filmmaker who will get his shot at any cost, but the rest, though visually stunning as previously stated – well, just eh.
Of those first 90 Kong-less moments, 45 could have been trimmed. I understand King Kong is Jackson’s raison d’etre, but this film plays more like a director’s cut than a theatrical release. He over-expounds on everything. Though I must admit that the humor Jackson and his long time screenwriting partners Phillipa Boyens and Fran Walsh infuse into the script made perfect tension breakers for all the torment and toil the men faced on Skull Island, and gave another layer to this epic tale.
As the men hunt for Ann on Skull Island for example – they naturally encounter many bizarre beasts. But even then I found myself thinking, OK enough is enough, not every scene needs to be 15, 20, 30 minutes long. We get it, it’s a creepy place with big ass bugs and dinosaurs. It is Treacherous with a capital T and Jackson hammers this point home with every shot.
And don’t get me wrong, overall I would say I liked the film. I certainly loved Kong. And loved Kong so much it made up for some of the areas in which this film bothered me. But come on, there was entirely too much time in between scenes that actually moved the narrative of the story along. We didn’t need extensive backstory on every single aspect of every single character. Give us Kong, give us Ann, give us Jack and the opportunistic Carl Denham. Call the rest supporting characters and then give us the patented Peter Jackson touch. THAT would be a film at least an hour shorter that would be truly amazing.
At over three hours? It’s called editing Peter, use it once in awhile. You are one of the most talented film makers of our time. Leave some for the directors cut, ok?
My summary on King Kong? Overly self indulgent on the directors part, but he beautifully captured Kong and the complicated love story between him and his blond bombshell Ann. Call me crazy, but all the visual effects in the world don’t move the story along. Tell the love story, that is what is at the heart of this film, what works best in this film and what is ultimately diluted in all the exposition.
If you want to hear what a Naomi Watts-crazed male thinks, follow the link below*. But trust me – I’ve given you the real scoop.
*Ed note: Link was to the He Said part of the article by another writer
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