KING KONG (2005)


2005

7/10

DIRECTOR: Peter Jackson

This review also contains several review points of the 1933 film: “King Kong: The Eighth Wonder Of The World”.

Back in 2004, production on a Peter Jackson remake of the 1933 classic were well underway, and this being off the back of the seminal Lord Of The Rings franchise, peaked my interest. This was one of the reasons that I revisited the original, a film that I hadn’t seen since the late 1980’s, as a child.

I watched the 1933 Fay Wray classic and was more than a little impressed with this early ground breaking blockbuster, with a fast pace, incredible special effects, in the context of the day, and a  real sense of self. This was a monster movie, nothing more, nothing less but in doing that so well it became a lasting classic as many films who know what they are, often do.

Peter Jackson claims to be a huge fan of King Kong, a point that it supremely obvious, as in December 2004, he unveiled his fanboy version of his childhood favourite. The love lavished on this film is palpable, with a similar art direction to the original and it’s 1930’s setting littered with references to its inspiration.

The main problem here is that the ’30’s King Kong: The Eighth Wonder Of The World, was a tight 90 minutes, which consisted of a straight forward setup; so-called romance that generally consisted of Fay Wray being ordered around by the ‘Venture’s’ first officer, John Driscoll, played by Bruce Cabot; a character re-imagined as a Adrian Brody’s writer in the new version; the arrival at the exotic ‘Skull Island’, the battle with Kong and various dinosaurs and the climatic show down on the roof of the Empire State.

This 180 minute version consists of the same plot elements… and is literally TWICE the length! It offers nothing and I mean NOTHING new to the original plot, yet Jackson has managed to stretch it to 90 minutes longer that the story demands.

But what he has achieved are some cracking special effects sequences, and some very attractive re-envisionings of the original, especially the Kong vs. T-Rex fight which has been expanded to an epic battle with no less than three T-rexes. Kong looks great, the island, islanders, the sea, the recreation of 1933 New York city all look wonderful. But, he is too keen to dwell of them, stretching the plot out to demonstrate who wonderful everything can look.

He also loves this project so much, that he was unable to put the rains on it and seemed to miss understand the source material, which was a monster movie, not a love story! Kong fell for Wray, but she didn’t really fall for him. That would be bestiality, wouldn’t it? There was more of a perverse take of the original, with Kong’s fascination with the ‘little woman’ rather than planning to settle down and have little Kongs.

In this version, their relationship is treated as unrequited love, with Naome Watts, Anne Darrow, seemingly encouraging the ape. This just didn’t sit well with me on so many levels, but still, the biggest problem is Jackson’s direction. Simply put, his visual style is brilliant, epic and classy, but his love for the subject has blinded him to becoming to ponderous, slow and sloppy.

Every key moment is tent-poled, even Darrow’s first step on the ‘Venture’ is overblown. There was a little more emphasis and background given to Darrow’s actress role than in the original, but this was fine as it was used to explain the context of time, The Great Depression. This was absent from the original most likely due to the fact that it was a product of that era anyway and the audience didn’t need such historical contextualisation.

This isn’t as bad as it sounds though, as it’s action is at times thrilling, Jack Black puts in a great performance as Carl Denham, seeming capturing the overblown spirit of the original, and the look of the film truly is classical. It’s just overblown, ponderous and way, way too long!

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14 Comments Add yours

  1. Kong is KING says:

    If you’re not a fan of the movie, why give it your critique? Plus, you have some incredibly lazy English writing skills. With one spelling and two grammar mistakes in the first sentence alone, it’s easy to see that this is not a professionally written piece. Did you even proofread your own review … er, opinion piece?

    Your “main problem” with this movie is its length. And yet, you knew long before going to see it that it was helmed by Peter Jackson, who also directed the at least three-hour per installment franchise of The Lord of the Rings. You say that you knew long before going to see it that it was a labour of love for Jackson. And yet, here you are complaining about length. What in the world did you expect? With the expectations of movie-goers having been slowly changed over the mid-to-late 90s with 2 1/2 hour + movies, it really should be no surprise to anyone that a revised Kong movie, being treated more dramatically than its forebears, would exceed the length expected of its older counterparts.

    Universal gave the reins to Jackson. He had the final say on everything in the project, given that he would stay close to the original. Jackson himself said that this was a re-imagining of the Kong story, and he purposely gave more depth to the relationship between Kong and Darrow. He also wanted audiences to have more of a personal connection with Kong, which is why he puts Denham in the role of antagonist. So, while you may be right in saying the 30s version was not much more than a monster movie, you are wrong to say that nothing is different about the plot elements. Almost everything is different. Like the fact that Driscoll is tricked by Denham into staying on board, or that the authorities gave the Captain orders to dock in India or Singapore (I don’t remember now), causing them to turn about, causing them to enter the fog of Skull Island. The 30s version was a monster movie. The 2005 version is a dramatic love story and adventure. Drama must move at a slower pace in order for audiences to absorb its effect. The uneducated whine at length instead of trying understand the reason for it.

    Your likening of their relationship to one of bestiality only goes to show how shallow-minded you are. Neither “fell for” either!Their “love” is not like that between “lovers”, it is more of a coming together of two kindred spirits that felt incredibly alone in the world. Like the elder person who gets a dog to feel less alone, or the only child who falls in love with their new cat, the relationship between Darrow and Kong was never intended to mean anything else. Gorillas, like humans, are very social creatures who, when separated from their families or peers, become lonely. The next time you watch the movie, pay attention to the conversation between Darrow and her mentor in the beginning; it will foreshadow, in a slight way, what’s to come, and it will give you an idea of the loneliness she has to face ahead. There is a reason for every scene; pay attention. Even the relationship between Darrow and Driscoll is setup for a reason — see the ending!

    Your hack-and-slash attempt to discount or discredit the length of the 2005 theatrical version of King Kong is completely biased, lacks true analysis, and fails to provide any valid reasoning other than to cite your own preferences, which when measured to Jackson’s preferences are far outweighed by vision alone. When The Hobbit part one comes to theaters, be prepared for a near three-hour event, and instead of complaining about how slow certain scenes are and how long your butt has to endure the padding beneath you, pay attention to every scene and every word. Maybe then you won’t even realize your three hours has come and gone. Maybe then you’ll appreciate the reason 2 1/2 hour + movies are that long.

    1. nEoPOL says:

      Well, firstly thank you for taking the time to read my review. Your first criticism, questioning my reasons for reviewing a film that I am not a fan of struck me as a bit odd. Surely you are not suggesting that we only comment of media that we like? I comment of films that polarise my opinions and this remake of King Kong was one of those films. For a start I don’t dislike it. I just find that I have some issues with it as my 7/10 rating surely indicates.

      You’re right that my main issue is the length but that is not to say that I hate long films, quite the opposite but every film has an optimum running time, whether it be long or short and I fell that stretching an 89 minute film to 180 minutes was ludicrous and damaged the final product. You pointed out that Jackson claimed to re-imagining the Kong story; Well that can be said for any remake but this was a loving copy of the original with almost all of the scenes intact to some extent. There were obvious changes, namely the characters which would be unworkable in a 2005 film but beyond that it was a special effects extravaganza, and that made up for some of the film’s flaws.

      Though my likening Darrow and Kong’s relationship to bestiality, I accept that, that was a deliberately inflammatory and provocative comment but there is still some truth in it. You are claiming that it is a platonic love but this is still more fanciful than the source, where Kong had more of a fascination and later obsession with Darrow than any real affection.

      Thanks for your time in both debunking my review and reading it but this was never intended to be a professional prose. This is a very personal and subjective analysis of a film which left me wanting. I know that out of my family and circle of friends, with is made up people of various ages, classes and backgrounds, I am one of the most forgiving towards King Kong. Most of which, find it boring, dull and you guessed it, overly long and pompous. Are they ALL wrong too? From your comments it sounds as if this film should come with a manual as to how to appreciate it. Every viewer will read what they want into the film and if we all don’t see the same key things then maybe the director is at fault for not clearly conveying their narrative to their audience.

      And yes, I’m looking forward to The Hobbit, as I loved Lord Of The Rings, which I felt were NOT too long as the lengthy books justified the running time. King Kong and Lord Of The Rings are NOT comparable…

  2. Daniel reddick says:

    It,was amazing but I think kong should have stayed alive and ann could visit him once in a while or sometimes like seriously

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