Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Lord of the Kong: Return of the Spectacle

King Kong: movie review
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Starring: Naomi Watts, Adrian Brody, Jack Black

I wasn’t entirely thrilled to the core when I heard they were remaking King Kong. Although having Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings trilogy) at the helm would certainly be a bonus. Jackson is very much a filmmaker in that truest of form, as opposed to an uninspired Hollywood Hack directing the new Eddie Murphy disaster.

Typically, films such as this get a lot of fanboy attention and a build-up of expectations that haven’t been met since Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Kahn. For some reason, even though I cannot fight the fact that I am a fanboy as well, it annoys me when these overzealous dorks start their own website for a film and treat it like Biblical history being translated as doctrine for all the world to follow.

Okay, that has nothing to do with the movie, anymore than the poster of my dog as Kong. Bo really does remind of Kong, though. I’m gonna buy him a Barbie doll with a white dress and really drive the image home.

All right, the movie. I’m getting there. Hang on. Sit back, relax, and settle in for a nice little review.

King Kong is a spectacle of adventure filmmaking. It is, in essence, what you go to the movies to see. It is a visual feast, complete with over-the-top stunts, dizzying camera moves, and saliva-inducing special effects. I drooled all over myself. Bring a bib.

The first hour of Kong is kind of plodding and you’re just rolling with the set-up. The shots of 30’s New York are beautiful, yet still feel a little gimmicky, due to the film’s content. It’s a movie about a giant gorilla and I’m not talking about Russell Crowe in the boxing ring.

Jack Black plays Carl Denham, an obsessed filmmaker who is trying to finance a risky film shot on a remote island from a “treasure” map he has procured. The problem is the studio doesn’t want to back him, his lead actress has fled the picture and he has no money. Minor setbacks.

Black finds hope in Anne Darrow, played by Naomi Watts, who is a struggling actress whose play has just been shut down due to lack of funds. Black persuades her to join his film and she agrees with nothing to lose.

Enter Adrian Brody as a screenwriter/playwright who is doing some “charity” work for Black’s character in order to quickly come up with a script for his island movie.

Fleeing the studio and the law, Black begins the voyage to the island, complete with a crew of colorful and questionable characters.

We splash around on the ocean for a while and watch Anne Darrow’s obsession with Brody’s screenwriter blossom as their mutual attraction builds. We learn about different crewmembers and their checkered pasts. It’s all set up and exposition and it’s not necessarily boring, it’s just what it is: set up.

Once they hit the island the film kicks into high gear and the race begins, never stopping until the credits roll.

We meet the local tribe crazy people who bounce up and down in what looks like orgasmic ecstasy with their eyeballs rolled in the back of their head. They kill some crewmembers and decide that the blonde-haired Anne Darrow is perfect for…something. Not that it’s a big mystery to us.

The crew manages to escape their short incursion to the island and make it back to the ship. However, just as they cast off, those crazy white-eyed orgasmo tribe’s people hop onboard and kidnap their little blonde sacrifice and haul her back to the island.

Brody sees she’s missing immediately and calls for the crew to go back and rescue her. And without hesitation they jump on paddleboats and head to the island, complete with a nice stock of Tommy-guns and rope.

The tribe’s people waste no time in tying Anne up and hanging her out in a big sacrificial ceremony (I’m guessing this sacrifice keeps Kong from mass-slaughtering the tribes people – who knows, I don’t read enough National Geographic I guess). The crew moves at light speed and paddle like the Flintstones to get to Anne.

The scene is very edge-of-your-seat, again reminding you that you are here for the adventure, not plausibility or grounded reality. Sit back and enjoy.

Anne is lowered down to a cliff where, finally, we meet Kong. He snags her up and takes off, running like gorillas run and heads off into the island.

Naturally, the crew goes after her (This chick is like gold or something) and head off. The captain gives them something like 48 hours to find her, which is fair I guess, but they really have no idea how big the island is and you’ve got a huge fucking gorilla that can leap two miles faster than they can walk (I don’t know if that makes sense, but you can tinker with it. Get out a scratch sheet and a calculator).

The island scenes are, to say the least, amazing. Jackson has truly thought out the details and really creates another world full of danger and intrigue, much like you’d imagine a prehistoric-themed island to be. It is a magnificent vision to see on screen.

From here we watch Anne’s relationship with Kong develop as she goes from scared captive to entertaining-to-save-her-life to forming a bond of mutual understanding and compassion. Kong is curious about his new “pet” and toys with her, however Anne stands up for herself and lets it be known that she is not a toy. Kong seems to appreciate her strength and courage and comes to care for her as if she were truly his mate (minus the fucking, as that would surely kill her.)

Meanwhile, the ship's crew, along with Black and Brody, are faced with their own dangers, including a Brontosaurus stampede, which is pretty amazing, complete with jaw-snapping raptors.

When the crew comes to the fateful tree trunk crossing, they are faced with an angry Kong (sans Anne) who pushes the trunk down the cliff, leaving the men to battle for their lives against all kinds of fucked up insect creatures. This is creepy stuff here and great fun. You’ll be wincing like a little bitch, just like me.

A surprise rescue from the remainder of the crew leaves Black with the idea that they should capture Kong. The idea is completely far-fetched, but it’s a movie about a giant gorilla and an island of prehistoric creatures. Get over it. Brody decides to go after Anne and rescue her with his skills in writing scripts and wine tasting.

Back to Anne and Kong. And before I continue, I must say that Naomi Watts should win one of those golden statue things for her portrayal of Anne. She has got to be the best green screen actress in history. Never once does she feel out of place or out of character. She is completely immersed in this role and someone should give her a pat on the back and marvel at her in those skimpy dresses and let her cut to the front of the line or something.

The danger that Anne faces in the course of fleeing from Kong in her first window of escape is beyond comprehension. I probably would have just shit my pants and rolled off a cliff or something. No, no, I’d be Indiana Jones and swing off vines and build a gun out of bamboo and blow darts and save the motherfuckin’ day. Whatever.

Anne is terrorized by crocodile like creatures, huge flying insects, huge millipedes and finally, by three T-rexes (or whatever kind of rexes scientists are now calling them – make up your fucking minds science bastards!)

I’m calling them T-rexes, so fuck off. So, Kong vs. the T-rexes is the baddest ass part of the movie. It’s showdown like a motherfucker and raises the stakes in CGI-related clobberin’. What bothered me though is Anne getting tossed all over the place like a little rag doll. Surely her neck would have broken or something by the sheer force of which she is tossed about.

Minor infracture. The scene is amazing and you find yourself rooting for Kong to “whup that T-rex ass.” And he does, but it is truly a battle and Kong doesn’t come out unscathed.

In the end, Anne rescued, Kong victories they head up the mountain and watch the sunset and come up with their own code for what beautiful is. (Hand to heart, baby, beautiful) Then, out of the cave behind them comes a small, hairy-footed creature holding a shiny ring and behind him a slimy little creature with big eyes. Before they can do anything though, Kong smooshes them both and puts the shiny ring around his neck and all of a sudden a flaming eye appears on the moun-


Okay, but they did watch the sunset and come up with code beautiful. At this point Kong and Anne are like, in love and shit, and Anne lies down in Kong’s hand and is out like a light.

Brody somehow finds Kong and Anne and climbs up the mountain with his strong screenwriting hands and makes it to the top where it’s now getting dark. We see what at first looks like typical bats flying around, but they’re actually huge vampire bats that look like they could be in Dracula’s army.

Brody, unfazed by killer bats or giant gorillas, goes to save Anne. Reaching out to her, Kong wakes up and is immediately enraged, thrashing about all gorilla-like. This pisses off Dracula’s army big time so they start to attack Kong, giving Anne and Brody a window to escape.

So, naturally they grab one of those bats and sail down into the river where they plummet in and then get to land and are suddenly running toward the entrance to the island and the boat. All without a GPS, hiking boots, food, water, or a map. SIGN ME UP FOR THEIR FUCKING BOOT CAMP!

I love it.

They get through the gate, Kong right behind them and Kong walks right into a chloro-whatever trap (you know, that shit that knocks you out – yeah they had a shitload on the ship – stay with me) They drop a net and struggle to hold Kong down while tossing bottles of the chloro-whatever at him.

After a long struggle and near misses, they finally subdue Kong. He is captured, beaten. Anne is in tears and it is surprisingly understandable. The fucking gorilla saved her ass from some serious shit. She should be peeling his bananas.

Flash forward to New York City (and my second pee break) and they’ve got Kong all chained up and being presented on Broadway. The audience is all dressed up and sitting in a theater to watch the 8th Wonder of the World. I guess the zoo is too dirty for the elite-class that paid to see the giant gorilla.

Anyways, Kong is teased with an actress playing the role of Anne in a ridiculous recreation of the island’s events. He is given hope that it’s her but is repulsed to find out it isn’t and suddenly he has a mission. Find Anne.

Kong breaks free and all hell breaks lose. He tears ass out of the theater and starts grabbing every blonde woman he sees to see if it’s Anne. He just tosses them away when he finds that it’s not. Surprisingly funny.

Super screenwriter Brody grabs his magical typewriter and decides to lure Kong away from…I don’t know what, it’s fucking New York, maybe he was gonna drive to the Hamptons, I don’t know…but he lures Kong away (Kong recognizes Brody as the cockblocker that stole his Anne). Kong finally catches up and bashes Brody’s car.

And then, out of the shadows comes Anne, who has heard the commotion and as fate would have it, they are now on the same street. Kong instantly recognizes her and snatches her up, heading into central park for some quiet time.

In central park the trees are lit up Christmas-style and I turned to my wife and said “Ooo, it’s a Christmas movie!” She wasn’t amused.

So, Kong steps on ice for the first time and slides around and Kong and Anne enjoy a nice little escapades moment of beastiality-love-on-the-ice, which is the cheesiest moment of the movie (but by no means “bad”) but is interrupted by an explosion from the good ol’ U.S. Army (God, we just ruin everything)

From here Kong is chased by machine gun fire and finds solace in the Empire State Building, climbing to the top to admire yet another sunset and to do the beautiful sign with Anne. They look at each other with compassion and thankfully never with sexual lust. It’s actually done very well and quite innocent, yet deep enough to cause you to feel for each character (even if one of them is a CGI-gorilla)

Then come the planes and you know Kong is doomed. He gets shot up and takes out a few, but ultimately he’s out of his element and accepts his fate, proving to be more rational than animalistic than his counterparts. We’re the fuckin’ monkeys!

The shot of Kong falling to the ground is a dizzying slow motion shot that is just great. And there are a lot of shots like this throughout the film. Jackson has accomplished his fanboy opus with satisfying glee, creating a true compassionate adventure film with believable characters in unbelievable situations. King Kong is a masterpiece of spectacle cinema and I look forward to seeing Jackson venture forth in his already stunning career.

Movie Grade: A


Anonymous said...

agent y says:

I would prefer a movie entitled:

The Wrath of the Chocolate Twinkie

maybe that's just cause I'm stoned...

Paul said...

Would this be pornographic or truly about a Hostess snack? That's the real question.

Paul said...

Would this be pornographic or truly about a Hostess snack? That's the real question.