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Few movies really cry out to be remade. If they
were done well enough the first time, then why bother? If they werent, they usually
dont provide the inspiration for a do over. After all, few turn out as well as His
Girl Friday. Peter Jackson has always wanted to remake King Kong, one of
the most popular and iconic, bigger-than-life cinematic fantasies. One might ask why. The
most obvious answer is that as extraordinary as the original Kongs special
effects were at the time, they are now indisputably dated by current technology.
Thats not to say they cant still be appreciated, only that they lack the
verisimilitude to which 21st century audiences are accustomed. Given
This turns out not to be such a good thing. Jackson brings a bigger is better mentality to the movie, and every scene in the new King Kong strains to be the biggest, most pulverizing, in-your-face spectacle that youve ever experienced from a high speed pileup on a dinosaur highway to Kong kung fu on Tyranosaurs. Three hours of that feels like being stuck on a roller coaster for the same amount of time. The perfect audience corollary in the movie is a scene in which Kong grabs heroine, Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts, Mulholland Drive), and shakes her like a martini. Furthering this sense of assault is a stylistic tendency
The plotting remains close to the original. Safari filmmaker Carl Denham (Jack Black, School of Rock) convinces broke and out-of-work actress Ann Darrow to join his crew, including principled writer Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody, The Pianist) and distrustful ships captain Englehorn (Thomas Kretschmann, Downfall), to make a movie at mysterious
Jack Black may seem too goofy a persona to make Denham work, but he turns out to be better than expected by giving the character both a conman and comic-relief angle. His most memorable line, Im someone you can trust Ann. Im a movie producer, combines the two. Brody is also cast against type as an action hero, but fails to generate much heat as a man of action, integrity, or romance. As the standout of the cast, the luminous
The Dino Delaurentis-produced version actually does have it over this new Kong (and the old one too for that matter) in at least one very important respect, it manages a stronger focus in developing the relationship between beauty and the beast.
It doesnt help that the tone is all over the place. Some amusing comic slapstick trapping Driscoll on the departing boat, a horrifying scene of a man devoured by fanged worms, and a syrupy moment of Kong cupping a sleeping Ann in his arms just dont cohere in the same movie. Then there is an amorphous subplot between the first mate, Hayes (Evan Parke) and a one-time-stowaway-turned-crew-member, Jimmy (Jamie Bell) that is affecting due to Parkes strong presence, but diverts from the main story for no good reason, and is abruptly abandoned.
At about 80 minutes longer than the original, Jacksons Kong has much that should have been relegated to the deleted scenes section of the DVD an old geezers farewell to the theater, Hayes performing a literary analysis of Joseph Conrads Heart of Darkness, and a maudlin sequence of Kong ice skating with Ann in Central Park (dont ask). But there are also some pretty fantastic moments like when the crew arrives at fog-enshrouded
King Kong peaks at the right time when the big ape escapes in
- George Wu