Thursday, December 29, 2005


I just came home from watching it.
If you get a chance, miss it.
Juvenile. Overwrought. Obvious. Indulgent. Miscast.

The story: Failing Hollywood director (Jack Black, doing his Orson Welles impersonation) wants to do a picture on a remote island. Barely escaping the police (he's your typical 'got-to-make-a-picture-any-way-I-can' thief), he finds the lovely-young-thing (Naomi Watts doing her Marilyn Monroe impersonation), who is a down on her luck actress; it is, after all, a Depression-era movie. She joins fellow filmmakers, Jack and her plastic leading man (I forget his name), and author Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody)--who just happens to be her secret never-before-met playwright heartthrob but soon to be real present-tense on-shipboard heartthrob--and they join Black's crew of stalwart cartoon-shipmates to ship out to Singapore.

Jack really wants to head for Skull Island, a never seen before mysterious island which he believes its movie location will enhance box office appeal on the eventual picture. They steam there--and get to the island in a fog and run into everything---I mean EVERYTHING special effects can dream up--beginning with a shipwreck and barbarous natives who follow the cult-of-Kong Kong (dinausaurs--and the bats--and the giant insets--will come later.) The natives give the captured Naomi to Kong as a sacrifice. He falls for her instead; because she's tough--"...take 'no' for an answer," she feministically finally orders him when he gets a little to aggressive; and he falls for it, and her. So they play some silly children games (another best way to quell the male beast, I assume), and they finally watch a Sunset together. Its an orange-hued beauty, and it enables them to fall in love (Platonic; he's very big and she's very small. And this is, after all, a children's movie. We do get a gentle Kong finger to the face, however. And at the end we do get a discrete arm pressed against her breast...which is by the way the only subtle touch in the movie.) Her movie-mates, led by love-interest Brody, and ship-mates (by now the audience is laughing at the Perils-of-Pauline silliness of it all) attempt to rescue her, facing one prolonged crisis after another. She has some leave-taking ambivalence about her exit from Kong--Kong did save her from the dinausaurs and the giant lizards; and it was a very beatutiful sunset. By Brody is handsome and sincere...and she follows him to safety. Meanwhile, dastardly Jack the director, his film footage ruined in an escape misadventure, hatches another scheme: capture and bring Kong back to New York where a million $$$ can be made exhibiting him. Bottles of convenient chloroform do the trick...and Kong is shipped to New York and becomes a theatrical event. On stage, tortured by humiliation and longing for Naomi, he breaks free from his bonds, kills more than a few people, tossing away some unwanted blondes in the process...ascends the Empire State building with Naomi (she is a willing companion by now...trying to save NY and him) where he is killed by police airplanes...and she mourns. Until Brody shows up and she hugs him. Love conquers all. Kong is soon forgotten. Just another Platonic affair, I guess.

If you think this summary is long, you should see the film: three hours. To be fair, I suppose obviousness and hammer-over-the-head emotion like King Kong (see the original, by the's much better) takes time to film and present; especially in Peter Jackson's world (oh, did I forget to mention: Peter Jackson directed...and directed...and directed...and directed...and directed), and especially when you have a budget of $200 million. EXCESS is the name of the game. Like trying to stop a kid from having too much fun when it's time for bed. You either spank him or go to bed yourself. The audience went to bed.

King Kong is a film made only for special effects students (and video game players). If you want to see a brilliant SUBTLE film about the anthropomorhic nature of animals, see March of the Penquins. In that film feeling, beauty and meaning are left implicit. For Peter Jackson, everything is explicit. He, and his actors, and his special effects team, never met an emotion or effect they didn't like; and when they get hold of it, can't stop auto-stimulating and self-caressing it.

The makers of King Kong deserve every dollar they don't make on this film.

(NOTE: Adrien Brody's acting is overwrought; even more than usual. Naomi Watts--who is a very excellent actress--one of my favorites--is underfed...and miscast. Jack Black...who I find normally miscast...and overfed. The rest of the cast is simply mis-directed. The script...what script?)


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