Saturday, December 24, 2005

King Kong

Go and see this movie, right now if you can. Incredible movie experience, along the lines of watching Star Wars for the first time.

Thanks to Bri-Pie aka Brian, for asking for my thoughts about the movie over e-mail earlier this morning. As I responded, I realized I minus well give my first initial impressions of the film.

Of course, "my initial impressions" means I'm going to write hundreds of words, because I suck like that.

Anyway, here are edited excerpts from said e-mail:
Brian - i'd like to hear your opinion on Kong once you see it.

King Kong was a huge mindfuck, in the best possible way. I was expecting to be disappointed by the beast, but Kong was perfect, both in terms of computer graphic design, and the emoting as a result of the state of the art movement effects (the same technology used to bring Gollum to life in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, which of course Jackson also produced and directed). The shockingly gorgeous Naomi Watts was UNREAL. I want to marry her, right now. I'm a big time sucker for mesmerizing blue eyes and blonde hair.

To be completely candorous, I have never seen half of the digital effects come to life like they do in King Kong. Peter Jackson is a directing genius. Some of the scenes were a little over the top and unrealistic (in the sense that 20 human beings could never survive a dinosaur stampede of 40-50 dinos and only have 4 dudes die), but it's supposed to be a fairy tale, so I didn't mind that.

My other big reservation, which is essentially nitpicking at this point, was Adrien Brody's character, Jack Driscoll. Jack was a hero, but Jackson made him far too passive. Not take anything away from Brody's performance, as he quietly delivers powerful expressions without having to say much. I understand that Jackson wanted to make Kong the ultimate hero in the end, which Kong was, but I missed the human element of romance, because Jack (the writer/screenwriter/playwright Brody's character plays) clearly falls in love with aspiring actress Ann Darrow (Watts), and is afraid to tell her, yet still saves her from Kong, who she could never really truly fall in love with from the start.

As a loser who happens to write well, I empathized with Jack's character, because I'm always falling for girls like Ann Darrow.

I especially sympathized with both male characters (Kong and especially Jack), because they were both falling in love with the same girl for completely different reasons. Kong was lonely and one of a kind, and felt unappreciated and worthless before finding someone he loved and with whom he could share his experiences. When the dinosaurs threaten Ann's safety, watching Kong kick the living crap out of everyone and everything in sight was one of the most memorable sequences in American movie history.

Jack Driscoll, meanwhile, found a beautiful, talented girl who literally acted out his love and talent - writing and creating - in the form of her acting performances. Jack was writing and constructing characters and stories that reflected real life, and when he found the ideal woman, not only for his characters, but for himself, he started suffering from man's greatest achilles heel: our love for the ladies.

In the end, Jack wound up being a side story, even though he risked his life over and over again to save Ann from Kong, who, despite loving Ann as well, murdered half an entire ship crew and destroyed the biggest city in the Western world out of his misplaced anger and aggression. I sympathize with Kong's feelings, as well, when it comes to unrequited or difficult-to-pull-off love for a girl.

Jack Black delivered an awesome performance as well, perhaps the best in the entire film, besides, of course, Watts. Black played a self-interested filmmaker to perfection, doubling as a narrator for us in the audience. As his friends sadly declare during the unveiling of Kong in New York City: "He has an unfailing talent to destroy all the things he loves."

Think of watching all the Star Wars movies for the first time. The first time you saw Jurassic Park. Taking in the Lord of the Rings trilogy in the theaters. This film encompassed the same kind of powerful cinematic experience. And you actually felt emotion from a computer-generated creature that never spoke a single word.



WK said...

good review
didn't really plan on seeing it in theaters...since I wasn't sure how much peter jackson could add to the story. I really hate when they go, "Peter Jackson's King Kong" since it's not his...watching the trailer, kong seemed like better version of roger rabbit..i just can't take cgi characters seriously.

nevertheless with all this buzz, i'll have to give it a chance.

Bwian said...

The magic of King Kong can be likened to a living cell. Bear with me here, and join me on a journey through the gooey protoplasm to the very heart of a modern cinema classic.

One of the chronic failings of would-be epics is that the story's world is created just well enough to be believable on screen (has anyone seen Troy?). The world of King Kong, however, is so real, so detailed and tangible, that it seems to have been created by love itself. I can speak firsthand about this as one of my friends was an extra on the New York set while we were living in Wellington, New Zealand where Kong was filmed. He said the care that went into the sets was staggering - down to tiny details that were guaranteed never to make it on screen. From the grimy streets of Depression-era New York to the primeval jungles of Skull Island, you feel like you could saunter down to the front of the theater and hop through the screen.

You wouldn't want to do that however, because the odds are there would be an enormous creature with teeth the size of your arm ready to cleave you in two. There has been a lot of talk, and some criticism that some of the creatures and chases around Skull Island are gratuitous and not really needed. To those who would criticize, I ask them to rent a minimalist movie like David Lynch's "Lost Highway" where less is more, apparently, though the characters never really seem to know what is happening and neither does the audience.

When I see a movie like King Kong, the more slobbering Death Worms or vicious Hell Bats you can throw at me the happier I'll be. That's why I paid $10 damnit! Now I do have to add that more is not always better in action movies. Take, for example, Batman and Robin. My guess is its genesis started like this:

Producer: "Batman has been a great series so far, but we may run out of steam soon, so let's just throw EVERYTHING in this film."
Director: "Don't you think we should concentrate on interesting characters rather than-"
Producer: "EVERYTHING. It will be the best Batman ever. Probably the best movie ever!"

And we all know how that turned out. Peter Jackson can throw in everything - and he did - but still keep things interesting because he understands that as long as we care about the characters, we will follow him anywhere. That's why he took an hour just to get to the island.

Take the apocalyptic fight between Kong and three, yes three, T-Rex's. This fight was so intense and so well done - on a rocky ledge, down vines in a chasm and across a huge plain - that by the end of it my arms and legs were so tense I had to consciously relax my muscles and remind myself to breathe again. THAT, my friends, is what good adventure cinema is all about. And everything else aside, I cared for the outcome of the battle because I cared for Ann Darrow whom Kong was constantly trying to protect.

And so we have made our way through the slimy protoplasm finally to the nucleus of the story. We care about all the adventure because we are made to care about Ann Darrow and her relationship with a Giant Gorilla. Step back and think about that for a second - if Kong had never been made and suddenly you heard about a movie where a blond, blue eyed out of work vaudeville star goes to a mysterious island and develops a complicated relationship with a giant ape bordering on love, well I can't speak for you but I would laugh outloud. "Ha!"

But it works. We care for her and we care for him (even though he is made of pixels and algorithms) and are brought to a climax that is visually stunning and emotionally crushing. At the very least we can relate to the struggle that we have all gone through at some point in our lives of trying to get the girl (or boy) and failing.

This is moviemaking at its absolute finest.

F.J. Delgado said...

wow, Bwian, you crushed my review of Kong! excellent points all around.

when you predicted that you thought King Kong was going to kick major ass a couple weeks ago, I must admit, I was highly skeptical.

I wonder what movie buff CaptBinky has to say about the film?

He's ABSOLUTELY RIGHT right again, o-ho Bwian!

wallycrawler said...

Has there ever been a gay'r cast ? That picture looks like a promo shot for the Producers not King Kong . Man this looks like Schumacher's Batman & Robin all over again . This movie moves as fast as a Hybrid car . I'd rather watch Lord Of The Anal Rings , than watch Jack Black in pancake . This movie sucks in so many areas it's hard to pick just one..I looked at my watch and no Kong after 45min. SLOW...and how about the size of those planes attacking Kong WAY OFF SCALE or Adrien Brody as a love interest Nathan Lane must have been busy ! This is a great story done in such a shity Hollywood way . Get some hot names throw in some CGI...TA DA. King Kong should not have been handled this way . They s h i t on this classic AGAIN !

AJ Gentile said...

"I minus well"? Are you boasting of your skill with mathematics?

c said...

the moral of this story is: you guys liked the movie because of the hot chick.

i did not get why there were dinosaurs taking over this film. i thought i went to see jurassic park 3 by accident.

F.J. Delgado said...

Yo... F.J. in Las Vegas here.

Thanks for letting us know what you think about Kong.

c, I'm disappointed you didn't like the film as much as I did, because you're a classy lady with great taste. I consider it a great popcorn flick, which is hard to come by these days. Remember the abomination that was Armageddon? Yeah, I still hate the otherwise cool Bruce Willis and Michael Clark Duncan for that one.

Ben Affleck, though, sucking ass in a bad role was simply setting a precedent at the time.

aj gentile, thanks for hitting this site up. no, i actually suck at math because I am not a true intellectual badass. if you ever want to talk about history, however, let me know.

wallycrawler: thanks for stopping by, I understand all of your points but I stand by Kong as a sick flick. hope you drop by more often.

whitney: let me know what you think of it whenever you see it. i hung out for a bit with your boy CoolHand Luke from UPenn last night, we checked out the Wynn, which was fucking awesome.


adspar said...

King Kong was just a terrible movie experience. I'm so profounded pissed off by it that I'll probably write a lot about it in my blog. I just got back and I'm really wishing I had those 3 hours back.

c said...

i think you are right - it is definitely a good popcorn flick. the special effects are amazing. i just think it is a guy movie. which is okay...if you are a dude. hope you are having fun in vegas....

Keith said...

Here's my take-
The characters in King Kong were a bit too cartoonish for me too take seriously. However, the Giant Gorilla was just so amazingly awesome that the 3 hours I spent in the theatre were extraordinarily enjoyable. Somehow the hour the led up to the inroduction of Kong went by reasonably quickly. They probably didn't need to spend as much time here as they did, but it wasn't too bad. I agree completely with those who compared King Kong to Jurassic Park and called it a great popcorn flick.