Saturday, June 23, 2007

King Kong (2005)

Director: Peter Jackson

No, it’s not too long. It’s long, yes, but not too long. Got it? Good. Now I can proceed with my review. With Peter Jackson at the helm this time around, we know it’s capable of reaching giant action adventure status. It truly is all about Kong, and we never forget that as the film unfolds. He's heroic, but he is just an ape acting out of instinct after all. It’s more than a re-imagining, it’s a love letter that Jackson finely tuned to honor a great piece of cinema.

I realize that if I read this review many years from now I’ll sound like a moron, but the special effects in this film have neared perfection for the industry. It’s seamlessly blended into a beautiful canvas of huge backdrops such as the mythic Skull Island and a depression-era New York City. From the boat that our protagonists board, to Kong himself, there’s a fitting sense of scale throughout this film. And that really pays off when the action takes center stage. Peter Jackson’s a big fan of close ups, and he really showcases that “I’m seeing/realizing something that you’re not” technique that Spielberg pioneered. There are a lot of ominous zooms, and eye-widening stares that help this film not get drenched in emotion, but retain a sort of “comic book” surrealism. After all, we are dealing with a giant ape fighting dinosaurs here. The actors push back against this, by delivering realistic and “non-winking at the camera” performances. With all that said, I think they pulled off the emotion quite well. Kong comes off as a real character, and it delves into poignant, inter-species scenes between Naomi Watts and Kong that would make even Ted Nugent weep.

So what does it all add up to? It’s a high flying action film that, dare I say, has meaning behind it. And even though we know what will happen in the end, we’re stunned by how Jackson can flawlessly recapture and re-imagine it, without bastardizing it, or turning it into a film solely about computer generated images. The relationship between Watts and Kong grows naturally as we see them become friends and look out for each other through really unique scenes. (Yeah, I can be sappy too.) Now when I recommend it as an action flick, I know action fans will grow weary of the love story, but it’s a nice blend that I think works. It’s always a challenge in fantasy films to try to ingrain some realism while fantastic thing are occurring. Certainly effects that don’t take you out of the picture help, but the universal emotions will kinetically guide you through this entertaining adventure.

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