A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 600 – King Kong (2005)

plKing Kong (2003) – October 21st, 2011

While watching this interminable bloat-fest I wondered – several times – why we own it. And the answer is an easy one: Peter Jackson. After all, we both loved all three of the Lord of the Rings movies and they’re super long adaptations of something else, right? Right! So, how bad could this really be? I probably wouldn’t have bothered to actually buy the movie. I would have been content to borrow it from work or something similar that didn’t involve keeping it around the house. Andy, however, as has been shown by the sheer number of things we own that neither of us had seen or knew much of anything about, buys movies like other people buy candy. So okay. Owning it makes sense, given the rules our lives seem to operate under. But that doesn’t mean we should.

I am so sorry, Peter Jackson, but this movie is bad. You made a bad movie, Petey. Even the presence of Adrien Brody on my screen for most of the movie wasn’t enough to save it. And given how much I enjoy watching Adrien Brody, that’s pretty sad. Part of it is that Jack Black was on my screen for about an equal amount of time, and that’s so much more Jack Black than I can handle at once. I’ve now exhausted my reserve of Jack Black Patience for another two years or so. This movie would have needed not just Adrien Brody but every other actor I adore, plus some cute puppies and kittens or maybe some fencing to offset the amount of Jack Black I had to sit through.

I would now like to share a series of messages I posted to twitter while watching this movie (specific responses to friends in regard to the movie excised):

  • 7:23 – I am already well beyond my tolerance limit for Jack Black and I’m only 20 minutes into King Kong. This is going to be difficult.
  • 7:58 – Well, Adrien Brody has his shirt off. Best thing in the movie so far.
  • 8:10 – I’m an hour and ten minutes in and there’s TWO HOURS TO GO.
  • 8:52 – How is this movie NOT OVER YET? What do you mean there’s more than an hour left? I’ve been watching it for a year now, I swear!
  • 9:02 – So much pointless CG action. So much pointless slow motion. WHY ALL THE SLOW MOTION?!
  • 9:09 – It’s over three hours long. Padding is the last thing this movie needed.
  • 9:39 – Says my husband: “You would think he’d go climb a building now. No. They go ice skating first. No, I’m not kidding.” THIS MOVIE, PEOPLE.

Really, why am I writing a review? That all should tell you my impression of the movie right there. It’s pointlessly long and slow and padded for no good reason. Aside from Jack Black, my most enduring memory of this movie is just feeling like it was never going to end. Like it had been so padded full of unnecessary action and chase scenes – done in slow motion – that it had become a huge beanbag pillow of a movie and I’d sunk into it and was never going to be able to get up. The original King Kong from the 1930s was under two hours long, so even if this movie does follow the plot point by point (I admit, I’ve never seen the entire original so I don’t know just how faithful it is in terms of plot points) it’s clearly trying to do more. And not just more, but lots and lots more. Like every scene and every moment and every line had to be bigger and more grand and more impressive. But really what that seems to have done is just made it take up more time. I’ve got no problem with big grand movies, but the big and grand here just feels unnecessary and frustrating. Get on with the story!

If you somehow don’t know the basic story of this movie, it’s not all that complex. A movie director who wants to film an adventure movie on a remote island heads off with his crew and his new lead actress. They arrive at the mysterious Skull Island and soon find it’s full of all sorts of dangers, like a tribe of people native to the island who ritually sacrifice women to a giant gorilla. They latch onto the lead actress and the giant gorilla takes off with her and it’s up to the movie crew to brave the perils of the island to get her back. Which they do, of course. Because the point of the story is more the gorilla than the girl. And they get him too and drag him back to New York where they put him on stage as a curiosity. He breaks free and tries to recapture the actress and it all ends in flattened gorilla when airplanes shoot him down off a skyscraper after he climbed up to be with the actress. And let me tell you, having Jack Black say the “twas beauty killed the beast” line from the classic? Made me so sad.

Now, in this version of the story, the actress falls in love with the movie’s screenwriter, who’s along for the trip because he hasn’t finished the script yet. From what I can tell, the character names are the same (Ann Darrow and Jack Driscoll) but Jack’s not a screenwriter in the original. I don’t really give a damn about that. Whatever his purpose is, he’s played by Adrien Brody and therefore my main reason for not tuning out completely for the entirety of this movie. He gets to go all action hero during the island segment of the movie, remaining determined to get Ann back despite giant leeches and vicious dinosaurs and a bunch of the crew getting killed and all. And the movie attempts to create this rivalry between Kong and Jack over Ann, and I’m pretty sure the purpose of that is to humanize Kong so his actions aren’t just animal reaction to Ann. That’s nice and all, but I’ve got a hard time sympathizing with him since he basically wants Ann because she’s the equivalent of one of those mechanical dogs that flips itself over as far as he’s concerned (no, really – she won him over by doing Vaudeville pratfalls). I mean, it’s terrible that he was taken from his home and drugged and paraded around in shackles. I’d be pretty fucking pissed off too. And I know that there’s a lot of talk about how the story can be seen as a metaphor for slavery, so humanizing Kong isn’t a bad idea. It’s just that even with the humanizing stuff in this version of the movie, Kong still wants to keep a woman as a pet and make her do tricks for him. I’m just not feeling that, okay?

Of course, the special effects are impressive. I’ll always give Peter Jackson credit for that. Technology has come a long way from the 1930s and with someone like Andy Serkis – who seems to have made a career of providing incredible motion capture performances – it makes sense to want to show off Kong himself and to show off all the work that went into creating Skull Island and everything on it. I get that. And I get that Peter Jackson loves the original and desperately wanted to make this new version something amazing and spectacular, but I almost wish it had been made by someone a little less in love with it. Or as in love with it but with a little less money at his fingertips. Because the combo of unbridled adoration and an enormous budget just made for an overly long effects bonanza, and while I like Peter Jackson, this movie just isn’t fun to watch.

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October 21, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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