Thursday, December 15, 2005

King Kong (full)

A remake of King Kong is the type of movie that has the potential to either amaze and delight or flop and disgust. In Peter Jackson's capable hands it most certainly does the former. The man that brought us the Lord of the Rings trilogy successfully tackles another epic tale, and the end result will probably be viewed in the coming years every bit as classic as the original.

Now there's nothing "deep" to this movie. And I don't want to hear anything about "the dark side of human nature," or "man's struggle against the unknown," or any of that. At the end of the day, it's just a movie about a big ape.

But what an ape it is!

If CGI characters could get an Academy Award, Kong would have my vote. He does/conveys it all: bravado, anger, melancholy, compassion, and even love. He steals the show, and you have to credit Jackson for that. From nothingness he created a creature that outshines several good actors (not Jack Black, who is horrible in almost everything he does).

Jackson has a knack for granduer. From the first glimpse of Skull Island to the last shot atop the Empire State Building, to the film's pinnacle sequence that rumbles through the jungles of a lost world, everything about Kong is on an epic scale. (Brief aside: The sequence I mention takes place slightly more than halfway through the film, and I am convinced that Jackson inserted it simply to give Steven Spielberg the finger, as if he's saying: "I'm not even making a movie about dinosaurs, but I can still outdo anything you hoped to accomplish in Jurrasic Park."

Like LOTR, King Kong is a beautiful movie, and a marvel of what's possible in film when CGI complements storytelling and emotion, instead of supplementing them. Andy Serkis, the man that brought Gollum to life in Middle Earth, gives life to Kong, and the beast's interactions with Naomi Watts are nothing short of extraordinary.

Sure there are drawbacks: lack of development in some areas, too much development in others, and of course, Jack Black. But its highs exceed the lows, and for that King Kong is a chest-thumping success.


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