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King Kong

Peter Jackson's epic 2005 remake of King Kong.

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Peter Jackson's retro, visually stunning masterpiece (after "LOTR).

  • Sep 10, 2011
**** out of ****

After finishing his breathe-taking "Lord of the Rings" film trilogy, Peter Jackson realized that he still had the rest of his entire career ahead of him; and he intended to use whatever time he had left. He has, since the "LOTR" films, made but two films; one of them great, one bad. And luckily for me and for you, we're talking about the better film; which is "King Kong". There's a name you may not; or at least, you should know it. It's the name that comes with a certain classic 30's "creature feature", which happens to be more than "just that", and it's also the name attached to many spin-off films, and sequels, as well. This was Peter Jackson's dream project, and it's the best way anyone could ever follow up an epic trilogy, such as "The Lord of the Rings".

Nobody makes films quite like Jackson does. He started out with horror movies and low-budget satires such as "Braindead" and "Bad Taste", and then went on to do stuff like "Forgotten Silver" and "Heavenly Creatures". He has done plenty in his career, and once in a while, he gets inspired to make something very epic, large in spectacle; such as this film here. With "King Kong", Peter Jackson has successfully avoided simply remaking the original film, and instead, he has re-imagined it completely; with more creatures, more features, and even more emotional resonance. It could be seen as a fun adventure movie as well as a superb drama; perhaps even both at the same time. Only a special kind of movie can accomplish so much, but there you have it.

I feel that one of Jackson's greatest achievements with the film is recreating the Great Depression era, thus creating a retro feel. This works for the film's benefit, as I like anything genuinely retro (that isn't just plain stupid, like, "Pearl Harbor", for example). Anyways, onwards to the film's main attraction; the plot. Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) is a struggling New York theater actress who is being put out of work, and forced to take desperate measures (such as briefly considering burlesque dancing) to make a buck. She eventually runs into the equally as troubled filmmaker, Carl Denham (Jack Black, in one of his best roles yet), who gives her a shot at money-making, guilt free.

He invites her to be in his next film, which is being written by famous playwright Jack Driscoll (Adrian Brody) and will be shot somewhere on a presumably undiscovered, uncharted place called Skull Island. The ship that will take the crew there sets sail, undergoes problems, and eventually lands itself, accidentally, on the island itself. The place is one full of danger; and you wouldn't have to even go on it to know that. But the crew abandons ship, after is crashes, anyways; and they eventually come in contact with the primitive tribes of the island, who capture Ann and sacrifice her to a beast that lives behind their walls, in the jungles of the island; and the beast is known as King Kong.

In an instant, the heroine is snatched and taken deep into the jungles; and the ship's crew, and the filmmakers, set out to reclaim her so that they can finish the film. Along the way, they discover that there's more than just a giant monkey, Kong, hiding behind those walls. The entire island appears to be crawling with prehistoric bugs, fish, and even dinosaurs themselves. So there are two things on the minds of the crewmembers: find the girl, and survive, as long as they possibly can, against the prehistoric beings of Skull Island.

What makes the film so good is the experience itself. Sometimes, I go to a movie just to have some good fun; to admire the craft that is required to create good entertainment. I appreciate "King Kong" because it does something much more than JUST entertain. Sure, I can't deny that I was consistently interested by the visual techniques that were used to create Kong and the rest of the creatures and creepy crawlies residing in his turf, but I also found much more to be involved in too. By the end, I found the film to be quite moving, and even emotionally resonant. Quite powerful, really it is, and that's a rare quality in Hollywood cinema these days.

Scenes such as the one where the crew is chased by a group of disturbed Brontosaurus, and their disturbers; the Venatosaurus, are enough to get your blood pumping. There is a way that Jackson channels the special-effects used that makes the film truly thrilling; he makes us feel as if we are there. His shots are flawlessly thought-out, and the motion-capture that he used for King Kong himself is fascinating. The one in the suit, which this kind of technology requires, was Jackson regular Andy Serkis; who pretty much owns the role of Kong and allows him some new dimension and depth. The human actors present also give considerably praise-worth performances, especially Jack Black, who has never been so good. Throw in a talented, colorful supporting cast, and I believe we have a winner.

I loved this film. I love how it added and perhaps even improved on the original film without partially butchering it in the process; I loved how it stuck to the rules of Hollywood stylistics (adventure, action, humor, both likable and un-likable individual characters), and how it also managed to go beyond some. I loved a lot about "King Kong". I think it's a great movie; one of the most entertaining of its kind, and one of my personal favorite Peter Jackson films. If only he could do movies like this one every day, every year, every moment. But there is a reason why adventure films are getting scarcer and scarcer by the decade. Nobody has the guts and the skill that a man like Jackson has. Along with Spielberg and James Cameron, he is an ambitious gentleman; but also a very unique and intelligent one. Not only does he know what his audience wants, but he also knows how to deliver it. As long as Jackson doesn't leave his directorial comfort zone, he can produce something rather visionary. How else can you truly describe films like this and "Lord of the Rings"? There are few others words.

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September 14, 2011
Despite the fact that a lot of fans of the original movie said that Jackson just overblew each and every element and made it into a visual feast, I did like this movie a lot. Kong finally moved liked an ape, looked like an ape, and the designs were awesome. There may be some pacing issues, but I didn't mind. Groovy review, Ryan!
More King Kong (2005 movie) reviews
review by . December 12, 2010
Stephanie's Favourite Movies: King Kong      If anyone can do grandeur, it's Peter Jackson. I mean, it's the mastermind behind the LOTR films. He is the one that can make a true monster epic for our time, and King Kong is definitely that. Great effects, great acting, great story, just general greatness. Some say that it was too long, I say that you need that much time to tell the story. Some say Adrien Brody isn't hero material. I say that he did just fine.   …
review by . August 23, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Peter Jackson's remake of the 1933 King Kong is exactly how to do a remake. This movie keeps to the spirit of the original, whilst including state of the art special effects and exciting action scenes. Jackson didn't try to add any silly plot twists or change the setting to 2005, but rather set out to remake the original film as it stood. He deserves a lot of credit for resisting the urge to "improve" the basic plot structure and settings of the original King Kong.   …
review by . July 18, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
      KING KONG      I remember watching the original Kong film back in the day and every one that followed and could not help but be entertained by every one although the first was the best. I have always enjoyed Kong films and have only rooted against him when he took on the greatest of all time in Godzilla. So after years of nothing new when this film was announced I was actually excited about it when normally I would be like "oh man they are going …
review by . August 22, 2010
Peter Jackson's remake of the 1933 King Kong is exactly how to do a remake. This movie keeps to the spirit of the original, whilst including state of the art special effects and exciting action scenes. Jackson didn't try to add any silly plot twists or change the setting to 2005, but rather set out to remake the original film as it stood. He deserves a lot of credit for resisting the urge to "improve" the basic plot structure and settings of the original King Kong.     The only …
review by . August 19, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Right after Lord of the Rings became such a smash success at the Box Office and the Academy Awards, Peter Jackson set out to do a film he just about always wanted to do: King Kong.  Peter Jackson talked about how much he enjoyed the film.  And for the most part, King Kong really sounded like a movie Jackson should do.  It could've been a huge epic!  Yeah!  And Peter Jackson does make it an epic.  But when making such an epic where exactly does the line get drawn?  …
review by . July 15, 2009
Peter Jackson's King King is an excellent film.  I was surprised by how well it was made.  The direction, photography, acting and special effects were just fantastic.  I usually have negative opinions of big budget remakes but this one is excellent.  Even Jack Black is good in this film (I an not a fan of his other work) and I'm impressed how Peter Jackson managed to get a very good performance out of him,  Naomi Watts redefines the role of Fay Wray and Adrien Brody …
review by . February 11, 2009
It's the height of the Depression in New York City, and down-on-her-luck actress Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) accepts movie director Carl Denham's (Jack Black) offer to sail off for an adventure and make a movie. Playwright/screenwriter Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody) gets stuck on board and they all sail off for Skull Island, a mysterious place that just happens to be the home of bloodthirsty natives, prehistoric animals, and a 25-foot tall ape called Kong. When the natives kidnap Ann and sacrifice her …
review by . April 29, 2009
This movie was excellent. It borrows a lot from the original with incredible special effects and amazing recreations of 1931 New York! King Kong finally moves like a real gorilla and the destruction that gets wrecked throughout the movie is very convincing! The natives of this movie look like something out of the Exorcist although there was a tribute to the original natives during the scene where Kong is displayed to the New York public at the theater.     There are a lot more …
review by . November 22, 2008
Pretty girl meets monster ape   King Kong has got his charm   In all the most romantic scenes   The girl is on his arm     Naomi's got the strongest arms   She must be doing curls   But Kong has got the safest paws   For catching falling girls     Packed to the brim with CGI   This movie's much too long   Stampeding dinos, "Tremors" worms   Some parts just don't belong …
review by . June 13, 2008
4.5/5 Stars     This remake of one of the most cherished films of all time wins an award for something, a minor one, but still an award and that is that it's probably the best remake of all time. Not much considering its competition, but still it's something. King Kong (2005) is certainly worth a look, but I must say some critical response to the running time of over three hours considering it could easily be two hours and still give the same level of emotion, but in the end …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #3
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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The extended version of Peter Jackson'sKing Kongadds 13 minutes to the running time--fortunately those 13 minutes include two dynamic action scenes and no material has been added to the movie's belabored set-up, which tries to give depth to these quintessentially b-movie characters with a clumsy patchwork of melodrama and in-jokes. But once movie-maker Carl Denham (Jack Black,School of Rock) and his crew finally arrive at Skull Island, the movie kicks into gear with spectacular action, technical wizardry, and genuine feeling. ThoughKongseems crafted to dazzle the eye on the giant screen, the overlong structure improves when you can take an intermission at will. At home, each scene can be approached on its own terms, be it the insanely choreographed battle between Kong and three T. Rexes or the subtle and multi-layered interplay between Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts,Mulholland Drive) and Kong (played, through motion-capture technology, by Andy Serkis, who previously played the similarly animated Gollum in Jackson'sLord of the Rings). The addition of a rampaging ceratops and an underwater race with what the movie's crew dubbed a "piranhadon" not only add more eye candy, but provide some valuable moments of character development. But in the end, that's frosting on the cake; when the movie's weaknesses and strengths are weighed, the emotional power of the fantastical relationship between a woman and a giant ape is a real cinematic achievement.--Bret ...
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Director: Peter Jackson
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: December 14, 2005
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: March 28, 2006
Runtime: 3hr 8min
Studio: Universal Studios, Wingnut Films
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