King Kong

Well well. This one has certainly been hyped. For the most part, King Kong lives up to its buzz. Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings trilogy) directs this blockbuster starring Jack Black (School of Rock, Shallow Hal), Naomi Watts (The Ring, 21 Grams) and Adrien Brody (most recently of The Jacket). All three do a fine job, though it’s hard for me to look at Jack Black without laughing.

Set in the Depression era, Kong begins with a (presumably) realistic slice of Americana seen through the eyes of filmmaker Carl Denham (Black) and aspiring actress Ann Darrow (Watts). Both need a hit movie: Denham to save his fledgling career and Darrow to simply eat and survive. In search of a fresh face for his latest picture, Denham meets Darrow by chance and she agrees to do the movie. The only catch is that filming will take place in a remote location, accessible only by boat. The cast and crew, including Brody as screenwriter Jack Driscoll, find the island only to discover it inhabitaed by hostile and violent natives. They abduct Darrow and set the stage for the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the introduction of Kong. The only word to describe the beast is amazing. His expressions are nuanced and human-like, giving a strange quality of depth to the portrayal. Props to the folks at CGI, or whoever made this thing, because it looks real. The interaction between Watts and the beast is really very good, especially given that Watts was probably in front of a green screen during filming. She looks as if she’s staring right at the gorilla and into his soul. Their interaction is a strange mix of love, fear, bewilderment and wonder. Kong seems genuinely in love with Ann Darrow, and she appears to have the beauty and gentility required to tame the savage beast.

The special effects are incredible, and there is a particularly long action sequence that lasts 10-15 minutes. No dialouge is necessary because Jackson has the audience riveted with what’s taking place on screen. Suffice to say that Kong is one bad MF. One drawback, in my opinion, was that the first part of the movie prior to them arriving on the island was a tad boring. I had a few long blinks. At 3 hours and 7 minutes this movie is long as hell — and you feel it in the beginning. Bring out the ape already. Overall King Kong was thoroughly entertaining, though I don’t think it’s good enough to surpass Titanic as the highest grossing movie of all time, as some are suggesting. King Kong: hot monkey love disaster flick with a heart.

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