December 21st, 2005


Review: King Kong

There's a moment near the start of Gladiator, where a bunch of German barbarians, armed only with the most basic of weapons, charge headlong into the well-oiled military machine that is the Roman army. I spent the few minutes leading up to this mostly feeling a sense of hopelessness of the "Jesus Christ, you're all dead and you don't even know it yet." variety, before having to actually watch them being turned into pate.

The final quarter of King Kong had much the same effect on me; Kong might have been the lord of his own jurassic jungle, but from the second he's captured he stands about as much chance as a Chinese protestor in a tank-filled square.

A few people I know are actually avoiding the film for exactly this reason - they know how it ends, they _already_ feel sorry for the poor ape and they don't need to see him transported out of his depth and then killed for the crime of not knowing how to behave in downtown New York.

I can understand that, but passing up on an incredible filmic experience because of that is something I wouldn't advise. Because if you can stand to have the tears jerked from your eyes King Kong is one of the best action/adventure films I've ever seen.

I know that some people just wanted to get straight to the monkey, but I enjoyed finding out a bit of background on the various characters who were about to arrive on the tastefully named Skull Island. They're a good mix of people, and you get a few defining moments for each of the major players, all of whom are well played. Jack Black is perfect as the untrustworthy film-maker, who would clearly have been PT Barnum if he'd been born 50 years earlier. Adrien Brody plays the book-ish writer with aplomb and Naomi Watts screams expertly, as well as managing to make the relationship between her and Kong believable. Speaking of which, Andy Serkis once more excel as a synthespian, bringing Kong's actions to life in a completely believable way.

But enough about 'actors' and 'background' and all of that nonsense. What you really want to know is "Is there a giant monkey, and does it kick ass?" The answer to which is "No, it's an ape, you zoological incompetent." and "Yes, of course it does."

I shan't spoil things too much, except to say that I went in there worried that the trailer had already given away too much about the dinosaur combat or Kong loose in New York, and was then completely blown away when I saw what surrounded those snippets in the movie itself.

It is _slightly_ too long - I would have shortened the Empire State Building scene by about two minutes - but other than that I thought it was magnificent from beginning to end.

Carl Denham: I'm someone you can trust, I'm a film producer.
Carl Denham: Fay! Fay! What about Fay? She would be perfect!
Preston: She's already filming something for RKO.