Directed by Peter Jackson
Starring Naomi Watts, Adrian Brody, Jack Black, Thomas Kretschmann, Colin Hanks, Kyle Chandler, and Andy Serkis as Kong.
You know, I’ve been following movie news online for so long now, that it’s common for me to walk into a theater knowing pretty much the whole history of what it took for a movie to be made. Case in point: King Kong. Peter Jackson was originally going to make it way back in 1997, for a summer 1998 release. But, in the summer of 1998, the American Godzilla was already slated to come out, as was Disney’s remake of Mighty Joe Young. Fearing that the world was getting too many giant monster movies that summer, Universal Studios pulled the plug on the project. So, Peter Jackson went off, made The Lord of the Rings Trilogy instead, and the success of that caused Universal to back a truckload of money up to Peter Jackson’s door to get him to do King Kong again. And now, we finally see Jackson’s vision of King Kong.
New York, 1933. It’s the throes of the Great Depression. Ann Darrow has just lost her job as a performer in a vaudeville theatre. Jack Driscoll is a barely-afloat screenwriter. And Carl Denham is the greatest con artist of a filmmaker. Denham has to stay one step ahead of the studio that wants to shut him down, so he sweet-talks Ann into being his new leading lady, abducts Driscoll to be his screenwriter, and they go chugging off to the mythical “Skull Island.” And, on Skull Island, they run into bloodthirsty savages who abduct Ann to sacrifice her to the great Kong. And Kong, as we all know, is a giant gorilla. So, before you know it, Ann and Kong are actually striking up a friendship in the depths of the jungles of Skull Island, and Driscoll is hot on their tale, leading the rescue party and fighting all manner of dinosaurs and giant insects. And then they get to New York….
Umm…wow. This film is so painfully close to be absolutely fantastic. Instead, it’s simply really, really good. The characters are very good. I was amazed by Jack Black. Kind of like most other comedic actors right now, I tend to think that all Black can do on screen is his shtick. But, he manages to make Carl Denham the almost lovable slimeball. And yes, the first hour is kind of slow, but as it’s mostly dedicated to character development, you can’t really fault that. And yes, the special effects are amazing, except for one or two shots that are obviously bad CGI. In the end, it’s a lot of fun, with some good, strong characters, but it just falls just a few millimeters from the goal.