Too Much Kong

In Everyone has one, Opinion by Erich Cella

With a budget of over 200 million and a talented team of special effects wizards that also worked on the Lord of the Rings trilogy it seemed as if Peter Jackson would be able to recapture the sense of adventure or danger that the original film, King Kong,

so beautifully portrayed.

Unfortunately for Jackson, he literally took on much more than he could chew, and the ridiculous three hour and seven minute time span represents the excess of this formidable project.

Peter Jackson has proven to audiences that he can take on an epic story and transform it into a character driven drama that is also technically sound but not overly cumbersome in scale.

This time around the bend, he falls in love with the technical proficiency that he is known for, and abandons the importance of interesting characters and fails to create camaraderie between these unappealing characters. The dialogue throughout the first thirty five minutes of the film is embarrassingly infantile and causes you to squirm in your seat as if you were a right wing conservative at a “Brokeback Mountain” screening.

Jack Black is obviously miscast as Carl Denham, the shrewd movie director who cares more about his camera than the safety of his crew, and seems as if he can’t keep a straight face as he butchers the poetry associated with the classic film.

Adrien Brody puts in a bland but not overly distracting performance as screenwriter Jack Driscoll who just serves as a temporary love interest until the film picks up a little steam.

On the other, Naomi Watts seems to be the only actor in the ensemble cast that fits the profile of her character and has the range to portray an undiscovered beauty that will run through the gamut of emotions as she is put through from one exhausting situation into another. She may not be able to duplicate the same overly exaggerated horrified expressions that Fay Wray exhibited throughout the original film but Watts has the innate ability to project sadness and impending doom on her face with her wide eyed stunned stare.

With all the short comings that are apparent in the script the special effects are the outstanding stars of the movie and the amount of detail put into the physical makeup of the gargantuan beast is what makes paying for a ticket worth while. Everything down to every facial expression and every subtle movement is brilliantly executed with uncanny precision as Peter Jackson turns to the talented Andy Serkis, who was responsible for bringing the character of Gollum to life in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, to apply his mastery to Kong.

Not only was he able to amazingly produce an accurate movement for Kong but orchestrate the facial characteristics in an incomprehensible and realistic manner. After all of the detail put into to King Kong the ape seemed to be the only real and genuine character when he is compared to the mundane souls that unfortunately littered the screen.

The fact that Kong was able to have a sense of humor and actually began to bust out laughing as he continually pushed Naomi Watts’ character to the ground is a tribute to the hard work Andy Serkis put in.

You also begin to feel empathy for the brute as he demonstrates loneliness and frustration throughout the film as you soon discover that his family has been wiped out and that he was the only primate left on the Island. Kong also moves as if he was a real ape and is able to smoothly and swiftly manipulate himself through the colossal jungle and climb up to the pinnacle of the Empire State building to meet his infamous but heartbreaking destiny. Make no mistake about it; the athletic and surreal makeup of this mammoth creature is what makes this an appealing movie or a unique movie going phenomena.

There seems to be an overwhelming overabundance of green screen and digital special effects that tend to overshadow the classic story. The characters seem very unnecessary and are simply used as props that serve as a disposable antagonist to the mighty King Kong. Do we really need to see Kong battle three blood thirsty dinosaurs and other ferocious inhabitants every five minutes as he juggles his blonde hostage?

It would be much more effective to minimize the number of appearances that Kong makes and build up the suspense. I guess it would still be difficult to appall the unsuspecting audience with the enormity and viciousness of the shaggy animal with the overabundance of advertisements that make you witness to what Kong would appear to look like.

There is also an almost contrived emotional aspect to the film that gives me a queasy sensation in the bowels of my stomach. The fact, that Peter Jackson is incorporating a romantic connection between the ape and actress, especially after Kong annihilates her crew and rips through New York City as if he drank too much Red Bull, is not substantiated.

Jackson took the horror film feel out of the original and added a ludicrous love story that tends to take away from the overall suspense. We are also enveloped with eye popping stimuli throughout the three hours and buried in the depths of a digital hell. They continually beat you over the head with fake backgrounds and large dinosaurs but forget to pace the film in a realistic manner.

The one scene they replicated to perfection was the battle on top of the Empire State Building between Kong and the fighter planes as you follow the pilots take evasive maneuvers through the New York sky line and try to bring down the big lug. The pain and confusion that is worn on the ape as he is being obliterated is priceless and heart wrenching right down to where he is finally brought down. There is no doubt that there is a litany of unforgettable moments splintered throughout this marathon but the story and dialogue suffer from the opera of digital technology presented to the exhausted audience.