Thursday, December 22, 2005

King Kong

I may be the only human being to say this but: I was dissappointed with Peter Jackson's King Kong. Right now Kleiber is reading this somewhere going, "He is way too picky." Here's my explanations and if you haven't seen the movie, don't read this.

1) Expectations were built up.
It's Peter Jackson. He's delivered three PHENOMENAL movies. He's got millions of dollars and a collection of the most talented people in the world at his fingertips. To him that is given much, much will be expected.

On top of that several of my friends, Kleiber included, have seen it and remarked that it was incredible. That puts me in a different frame of mind going into the film. I didn't walk in going, can't wait to see a good movie. I walked in saying, what makes this movie so incredibly good that people are going bonkers over it? That's a more critical approach.

2) Characters did not change.
C'mon Pete that's Screenwriting 101. If a character is the same in the beginning of a film as they are at the end, what's the point of the story? Sure they suffered through a lot, but it didn't truly effect them. Anne and Kong are the exception to this and are BRILLIANT. But two characters out of the 15 or so is a pretty low ratio. Denham starts out as a backstabbing director willing to do anything or use anyone to get his film made. That's exactly who he remains when the credits roll. Driscoll starts out as a noble writer and ends up a noble writer (with a girl). I love that he is a mirror of Kong to Anne in the fact that no matter how awful it gets he is always chasing her, trying to protect her even if he can't or may die in the process. But that part was an undercurrent never really brought to the forefront.

If a situation doesn't have the power to change the people involved, the situation wasn't worthy enough to tell, or in this case, the characters haven't been developed enough. The biggest crime of these was Denham. He's used every single person he knows and they've been placed in great jeopardy as a result. He is neither ruined by this, nor does he learn from it.

And then there's Baxter, the hero of the film within the film. He's a great contrast to Driscoll initially. He looks heroic, plays the hero, but he's actually a coward. And Driscoll, who looks anything but heroic, turns out to be just that. But then Jackson does an odd thing. Just when you think Baxter is gone for good, he a hero? What's that we see....could it be change? But then he goes and ruins it by returning Baxter to a lying coward once again. It would have been much more powerful to fool the audience in the beginning into thinking that Baxter actually is courageous and heroic only to have him turn out to be a coward. That's great conflict bringing about change or revealing a character for who they truly are.

3) Less is more.
In the original film, Kong fights one T-Rex. It's a GREAT battle. A 15 minute wrestling match as the two wear each other down, ending in a gut wrenching shot of Kong slowly ripping the T-Rex's jaw apart. What does the the new film give us? Kung-fu Kong taking on 3 T-Rexes simulteaneously. That is not better or more powerful. It's a video game. After seeing Kong take on the 3 T-Rexes, why would we have any fear when it finally comes down to him vs. one. He just handled three, surely he can handle one.

4) One full hour too long.
I'm a big fan of LONG movies. Love to hear a movie is gonna hit the three hour mark. BUT, usually when a movie is going to attempt the epic time it typically holds my attention the entire time. Not so with Kong. It wasn't a few minutes too long. I don't suggest cutting out a half an hour or so. It was ONE FULL HOUR TOO LONG. There were roughly 3-4 too many scenes of Kong and Anne just staring lovingly at each other. Too much time spent in New York in the beginning. That is a ameteur screenwriting mistake. No need to fill up the first part of the movie with buckets and buckets of exposition. Give us enough that we know the character and then get us to that inciting incident. Get us on that boat and to Skull Island.

What did I like?
Kong's FX were pretty amazing. He looked like a real giant gorilla. That's quite an achievement. Naomi Watts did an incredible job as Ann. New York looked amazing. The dance the "natives" do at Kong's feet is a great tribute to the original '33 Kong.

Make sure you Netflix the original Kong. That there is cinema history.

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