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King Kong

Peter Jackson's epic 2005 remake of King Kong.

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King Kong - 2005

  • Jan 1, 2006
Rating:
+1
Pros: cuter Kong

Cons: numerous

The Bottom Line: "We do the King Kong song, gotta sing along
Can't you hear the beating of the monkey tom-tom
Listen to the rhythm of the King Kong song"
ABBA

Well …

I went into this expecting to be disappointed. Fortunately I prepared myself in advance.

It seems like only a couple of years ago that they decided to resurrect the hairy beast known as King Kong. Imagine my surprise when I realized it was 1976. Good Heavens, almost 30 years ago. I’m not surprised, then, that they decided to bring him back in all his glory. I was surprised they didn’t hold off until after the first of the year, making it a 30-year anniversary, but you know how it goes - the bottom line - get it out before the holidays.

The most important fact immediately about this release is Kong is finally identified. Yes, folks, he is played by Andy Serkis, in a dual role. When not being a hairy beast, Serkis is also in the movie as Lumpy the Cook. I’m keeping all comments to myself.

This particular release was directed by Peter Jackson. Writing credits go to the originals - Merian C. Cooper & Edgar Wallace for the story, screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson. Most of the filming was done in New Zealand, some jungle shots were in Thailand.

Starring in the lead roles are Naomi Watts as Ann Darrow, Jack Black as Carl Denham, and Adrien Brody as Jack Driscoll. I’ve already mentioned the real star, Kong, played by Andy Serkis.

So sign on the dotted line kiddies and let’s board the ship, taking us to Skull Island and the Mighty Kong.

King Kong 2005
Clearly they could have cut 1-½ hours out of this film and no one would have been upset. I know I wouldn’t have because by the time we finally reach Skull Island, and finally meet Kong, I am bored. I am tired of the production, have no interest in the characters, could care less if any or all of them make it back to civilization.

The gratuitous 1-½ hours they spent in the film centered mainly around Carl Denham and some overdone and over extended dinosaur scenes. By the way, where was the snake? Kong always fights a huge snake. Now, since Jurassic Park, we are given T-Rex’s and Raptors by the hand full.

Just as they did in Titanic, they took the story away from Kong and gave it to Ann Darrow and Jack Driscoll. It wasn’t their love story that was being told, it was Kong and Ann. Pity they chose that route.

Opening scenes play too much on Denham and his inability to succeed in anything. It is easily 45 minutes into the movie before we even see the ship and start the trip to Skull Island. When we finally reach the island, the natives seem a bit more advanced than in previous movies. Sure, they are still heathens, living in caves and performing mindless dances, but they have rigged up one kickass stone wall and one outlandish scaffolding that ejects Ann out into the jungle to meet Kong. I’ll give them credit for that.

In Kong’s past the meeting between Kong and Darrow was a sight to behold. His approach before was more prolonged, adding to the fear and excitement. In this release, poof, no time at all he is there. Couple of trees bite the dust and he whips up Ann and starts on his trek.

As a side note, this trek Kong takes. He is, most of the time, carrying Darrow in his hand-paw or his foot-paw. The way she is being tossed around, if she were a real human, she would have been long dead. Broken neck, broken back, certainly brain damage. But that is just my take.

When they finally find, and attempt to capture, Kong. Come on - a couple of ropes, get real. It would be like jumping off the New River Bridge on a rubber band. Please. But capture him, they do, again thanks to Denham.

~~ Spoiler ~~If you’ve never seen the movie, then skip this part ~~
The balance of the story is fairly the same as the original. Kong goes to New York, gets mad, escapes, does damage, climbs the Empire State Building, planes, dead.
~~ End spoiler ~~

Let’s talk about Kong
He’s prettier in this release. Well, as pretty as he can be. And they have given him some battle scars, from prior scrapes with ‘something’. To me, that makes him more real. His fur is more matted and, frankly, he looks like he might smell.

Overall I liked this Kong better than the 1976 Kong, my favorite is still the original. His appearance is more apelike than in prior releases but he doesn’t have the magic or charisma that the 1933 Kong had. Perhaps it is like the original Psycho, The Blob, Body Snatchers, etc. You can really only do that once. Anything else will never match up to our predetermined expectations.

This Kong carried almost no facial expressions. The 1976 Kong did have facial expressions. He interacted with Darrow. However this Kong had an attitude. Not in a ‘I’m a badass’ kind of way but in a pouting way. When he gets a little huffy with Darrow, he turns his back and basically ignores her, giving her sidelong glances as if to say “You are not important to me”.

Ann Darrow - Naomi Watts
Too dang cutesy for me. In a weird way she often reminded me of Nicole Kidman with her expressions and eyes. Not as good as Kidman though. I didn’t get the feeling that she gave to the part what it deserved, her attention for one. Sure, she bonded with Kong, she danced and did tricks, but still … The only feeling I got from her was desperation and it had nothing to do with the part she was playing.

Carl Denham - Jack Black
Could have done with about 1 hour less of Jack Black. A couple of cute one-liners, especially when they were searching for an actress for the part. A side mention of ‘Fay’ and his assistant said, she is working on a film for RKO. Black/Denham says “Oh, Cooper. Darn Cooper.” Of course, you’d have to be a Konghead to get it.

Jack Driscoll - Adrien Brody
Didn’t like him, didn’t bond with him, couldn’t picture him in this part. Poor casting, in my opinion, which really doesn’t count for much.

CGI - the famed star of this movie
Yep, plenty of it. Scads. More than you want or need. My opinion only. The work was good, I’ll admit that, but I didn’t go to see the CGI work. Of course, that is what will draw most and probably what will garner it any type of award.

Attention to detail
Huge thumbs up on the attempt to recreate the 1930’s New York. Outstanding job of staying in period. Where did they get all those old cars? Costumes were fine, scenery was fine, detail was pretty interesting.

Story line
They stayed fairly close but swayed a bit for today’s audience. It is what is expected these days. What movie goers clamor for.

Overall impression
Disappointment. I wouldn’t see it again, I wouldn’t rent it, I wouldn’t buy it.

Thanks,
Susi

Update
I recently had the pleasure to view the 3 hour extra DVD included with my new 1933 King Kong DVD, which was done by Peter Jackson. I will admit I was impressed to discover the love, dedication, and forethought put into the making of the 2005 release of King Kong. Jackson, et al, strove to make their release in minute detail to the 1933 version.

They were so taken with the work of Cooper, et al, when the originally made, that they strived to follow his standards. All work was done in stop-motion, like Cooper had done. I was incorrect stating that it was filled with CGI, it was not. The work was done with small miniatures and countless hours and hours of stop-motion filming.

For that I give Peter Jackson and crew a standing ovation. However, that doesn’t change the fact that it simply wasn’t a better movie than the original. True, they could have resorted to CGI and everything that is commonly used today, but they are using their ‘today knowledge’ to complete what Cooper did as ground-breaking work. All they are offering is a copy of an outstanding work, many years old.

Frankly I was more taken with the extra DVD commentary than I was with the King Kong that Jackson released. He is truly a man that loves the art of filmmaking and shows great respect and reverence to Cooper, et al. But, in the end, it was exactly the same thing, just now. Realizing the pressures and constraints that Cooper, et al, worked under makes the original 1933 production even more powerful.

Thanks again,
Susi



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More King Kong (2005 movie) reviews
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review by . April 29, 2009
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review by . November 22, 2008
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Wiki

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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Details

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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