King Kong is a mammoth of a movie, but then this a Peter Jackson film and that's what we've come to expected from the new bearded one. He's managed over the last five years to repeatedly beat Lucas and Spielberg at their own game. King Kong occupies that difficult second movie place after the huge success that was the Lord of the Rings. Originally this was the movie Jackson wanted to make in the mid nineties but the studios bottled it due to fears of budget and the word 'flop', just as well really as we might never have had LOTR. Anyhow after Return of the King finished, Jackson was able to choose whatever he wanted to do and naturally went for King Kong. So how is it? In a word damned good. I wouldn't go so far as to say masterpiece as there are one too many flaws for me which I will get into later, but lets talk about the good stuff first.
Storywise and setting is the same as the 1930s one, there is very little difference in plot. They go to Skull Island, Anne Darrow (Naomi Watts) gets captured and fed to Kong. Kong falls in love with her. Kong gets captured by unscrupolous film maker entertainer, Carl Denham (Jack Black). Kong is forced to be a freakshow attraction on Broadway. Kong escapes. Kong with Darrow climbs up the Empire State Building. Kong get attacked by Bi-planes. Kong falls. Kong dies. Finally I can go to the toilet.
Yeah its all there, and the look of the movie captures that thirties feeling very nicely. The movie of course depends on how convincing Kong is. Let me say it now, he is flawless, the only reason the illusion might break is simply you know it isn't real event though it looks real. The hair, the eyes, everything about him is A one perfecto, this is a step beyond Gollum in many ways, as Gollum didn't have hair, whereas of course Kong has plenty, and as any CG artist will tell you, hair is a bitch to animate convincingly.
The best bits of the movie are really in the middle. Its here we get Jurassic Park on Cocaine, you're literally breathless as you watch Kong take on three T-Rexes in the mother of all monster fights. This thing literally lasts ten minutes. The beating these monsters give to each other is just unfuckingbelievable in my view. Kong takes them all out while holding on to Anne, he finishes with a bone crunching Mortal Combat deathblow which will have you whincing around your jaw area for sure. If you see this movie with a girlfriend warn her about the giant bug sequence first, well maybe don't if you're feeling nasty, but make sure her hands are nowhere near any vital areas of your anatomy, because that bit is well - buggy, and they do bite - alot. The final sequences in NYC are breath taking, again flawless in execution, and Jackson packs the final scenes with as much empathy as you can give a big giant monster who is actually made from pixels. Well I felt more sorry for him than Leonardo Di Caprio in Titanic. BTW the last scene I almost expected Kong to tell Anne - Live your life. Thankfully he doesn't.
So what's wrong with it then? Well, its too bloody long. The original was like ninety minutes. This one is like 188 minutes. Really there isn't enough story for a three hour arse burner, you know? The problem lies in the first hour. Jackson takes too long getting us to the island, he wants us to get to know way too many characters, only to watch them die in a cack handed fashion in the second half.
Characterwise there is a problem with Carl Denham's role and Jack Driscoll's. You see basically they are two sides of the same coin. Carl is a driven film director who wants to make the best movie he can. Jack is a driven script writer who wants to to write the best script he can. The difference between them is ethics and morality. Carl will stop at nothing to get his film, two thirds of the way through his character loses all sympathy with the audience,and he may as well grow a twirling moustache. He should have his head ripped off by Kong but he doesn't and is just hanging in the script like Obi Wan Kenobi did in the early drafts of Star Wars, which begs the question why have him there at all? It would have made so much more sense to combine both characters into one and create a much more complex individual. Adrian Brody does the best he can with the material, but his role is secondary to the real hero of the movie which is Kong. He supposed to rescue Darrow, but the whole point of the last bit of the movie is that she doesn't need rescuing, so we don't need Jack.
Still its a minor gripe as this film is about Kong, and by the end of the film its only Kong and Anne that matters, Naomi Watts really pulls off the Mark Hamill factor here and makes you believe there a huge fuck off ape on top of the Empire State Building trying to protect her. The only problem I had is that Watts never once seems to suffer from vertigo up there walks around the top as if its not really a eighty stories high at all. Still its not reality we're interested in here. My only advice, go to the toilet before the film begins.