Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Rambling Review of Peter Jackson's King Kong

It seems that all Hollywood can do is remakes these days. The movie doesn't even have to be a good one originally to warrant a remake. Hollywood is all out of ideas and way too afraid to take risks so they keep schlepping half-witted movies at us to see if they can make a buck. Peter Jackson decided he would actually try to present us with a good remake. So he assembled his cast loaded onto a ship and went to skull isl.... wait that is where they go in the movie. Peter Jackson takes the movie back to hobbitville better known as New Zealand. He takes the ideas from the original groundbreaker film of the same title sans the 'Peter Jackson's' part and tries to flush out the story a bit. I figure he felt that the 1933 version was a little light on the whys and he felt today's modern audience would need to know some whys. Actually I think it's just because he has no clue how to make a short feature since all his blockbusters clock in at 3 hours or more. After watching The Brown Bunny I was ready for a good movie and good ol' Petey did not disappoint.... well for the most part. Here is my review of PETER JACKSON'S KING KONG!!!!!!!!!!

The movie starts in depression era New York and Peter Jackson spends the entire opening credits making sure we get that. We are introduced to Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) an impoverished Vaudeville stage actress with big dreams and a reality that is about to go bust. The playhouse she performs in closes the doors and she is out of a job and hungry. Her old manager tells her to pursue her dreams of the big stage and she tries to but she is shut down by the talent scout and handed an address of a place that is hiring. He recommends she work there and then get out of this crummy town.... We head across town as Carl Denham (Jack Black) watches the film he has shot with the investors who of course hate it. When they decide to turn it into stock footage to get their money back he runs off with the film and decides to set sail that evening for 'Singapore'. At that point his naive assistant lets him know that his actress has dropped out and he sets off to find a new girl to fit her dresses. Ann shows up at the place she was sent to only to find that it is a burlesque show and with her dreams fading she takes off. Carl happens to see her before he is about to go into the burlesque show to search for his star. He somehow convinces her to go to 'Singapore' and they head to the boat. Where we have a reluctant captain that takes a check to set sail that night from a man he already knows is broke. He traps the reluctant author of his screenplay Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody) on his boat so that he can get a completed screenplay. So Carl is a real winner a liar, cheat, con-artist and kidnapper. As they leave the docks the cops show up to late to arrest carl for stealing the footage he had shot, which makes him a fugitive as well. On the boat he reveals to Jack the real destination is Skull Island. The crew and captain freak out but this unlikable guy that Jack Black brings to life convinces them to follow his plan anyhow. Then the first mate and captain discover Carl is a wanted man and they are ordered to turn around just as a strange fog settles down and they crunch right into the big rock skull on Skull island.

At this point I was ready to call it a day. I was bored to tears and was afraid the movie would continue like this and that Mr. Jackson would totally 'Godzilla' this film. I had been reading the paper and doodling through the whole part and only stopped occasionally to wonder how Carl could convince people of his plans when no one seemed to like him. He was not all that compelling and his ambition was outright ugly to see. I know that there wouldn't be a movie if they didn't but what type of excuse is that? I like Jack Black but I did not like him in this movie and perhaps that was what he wanted to do with the character. Either way I had a hard time believing the crew of the ship wouldn't have knifed him a few times and dumped him overboard. The captain who seemed to deal in poaching and smuggling animals was a more likeable character. I almost stopped watching the movie when they were about to turn around because Carl was a fugitive. I couldn't buy that the entire crew had missed New York's finest send off at the beginning of the voyage. It almost derailed the film for me. It definitely made me stop and start doing other things. I washed dishes, made my bed, read email, went for a walk, bought groceries, talked to my grandfather, ate some grapefruit, cooked dinner, watched some tv, watched a made for tv movie, and took a nap. Then knowing that I had to finish it for the sake of the review at least I sat back down and started from where I paused it.

Skull Island. Carl steals a life boat and takes the film crew, the writer and the actor and actress to the island and they start filming on the 'deserted island'. It is really creepy and then all of a sudden the natives spring forth and start attacking leaving several in the party dead. The captain shows up and saves the day. Once again I was not real clear on why. They all go back to the boat and are getting ready to leave when Ann is taken off the boat by a pole vaulting native. The pole vaulting was rad by the way. Jack who has fallen in love with her by now realizes she was missing and sounds the bell as the captain is about to take off. The men, every one of them outstanding people that want to restore Ann to the boat for pure virtue, amass a rescue mission. They come in guns blazing only to miss the arrival of King Kong as he takes his snack back to his lair. Carl of course sees him and keeps it to himself and they all run out into the jungle to save her. Carl apparently figures that KK just wants to be a star and tags along with his camera. This is where it finally gets good. King Kong flings Ann around all over the place and you wonder how she would survive. I am betting she could have had a major whiplash case against KK had she pursued it. The boys run into a huge bunch of stampeding brontosaurus's for a spectacular scene where several men and brontosaurus's lose their lives as they run from what appears to be velociraptors. The remaining group of rescuers have a few people give up including the dashing actor who always plays the hero in his movies but is not so heroic in real life. The remaining group head further into the forest. Meanwhile Ann puts on a vaudeville act until KK gets a little rough and she is forced to put her foot down. KK has a major tantrum and when it doesn't work he runs away and so does Ann. She runs off through a jungle with the largest gorilla anyone has ever seen and does so with out thinking "Where the devil am I going?" King Kong terrorizes the rescuers as they are crossing a ravine and sends them all plummeting. Ann sees this and ends up running the other way. She of course gets in trouble with a few large lizards and then bigger trouble with a few large Tyrannosauruses. King Kong shows up from nowhere and takes on the T-Rexes. There are three of them in this version and this scene trumps the great brontosaurus scene. Flashback to the intrepid rescuers, a few survive the fall only to be assaulted by ginormous (pronounced like gigantic and enormous had a baby) bug and scorpion. They are saved by the actor and the captain and as they all decide she is dead Jack decided to continue searching on his own. Carl and the captain decide to hatch another money making scheme and try to capture KK as he follows Jack and Ann back to the boat. Jack rescues Ann, KK follows and somehow gets captured and then we are in New York.

It appears to be months later and Carl is promoting his show of the 8th wonder of the world. Jack is watching his play he wrote for Ann to star in be performed by another actress and Ann is elsewhere. Plug in the old story. KK sits chained in iron, Carl says he is harmless they have a show and camera flashes infuriate KK and he goes ballistic and starts smashing wintery New York. Trying to help out Jack shows his face to lead KK away from a trolley and KK remembering the jerk that took his special lady friend takes off after him. Ann arrives in time to save jack and to hang out with KK and just before they get married the army starts firing missiles at them. KK climbs up the empire state building to get away and once again just before the marriage the military spoils his fun. Airplanes shoot at him even though all he wants to do is smash up town and maybe eat a few people or so. She tries to save him but cant and he dies and falls off the Empire State building to make it complete.

Hope I didn't spoil the ending.... if I did do yourself a favor and see the original version too. I do recommend this movie just be ready for the stupidly long beginning. I enjoyed it even if it made me start thinking: How would the insurance companies respond to claims from large ape damage?

Oh yeah and: Do you think anyone was unlucky enough to have a 20 foot gorilla fall on them? Could you imagine telling that to your family? Hehe.

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