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Location: Newark, Delaware, United States

I'm just like you, only worse.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Who wouldn't like a movie about a giant gorilla? Especially one with dinosaurs and giant bugs, too. King King is big cinema. It's the kind of big, long, exciting, and emotionally charged epic we've come to expect from Peter Jackson. I saw it last night, and let me tell you, it didn't feel like I was in the theater for three hours. Well, okay, it did, but I didn't mind a moment of it.

When I was a kid, I really was interested in King Kong. I saw the 1976 remake, which wasn't all that true to the original, but I didn't know anything about the original. I was six. I got a big, oversized comicbook that told the original story (I remember it cost $1.00!! I wonder if my mom bulked at paying a buck for a funny book). I think I was a little disappointed that it was different from the movie I'd seen. I don't know how a six year old could be disappointed by a comic that has dinosaurs, but there you have it. I also had a hardcover book that told the cinematic history of King Kong. I think I remember Queen Kong, Son of Kong, and several others. See, even back then, movies had bad sequels.

Over the years, I admit I had entirely forgotten my former interest in King Kong. When I heard that Peter Jackson, who had made my very favorite movies ever (and, no, I'm not talking about The Frighteners or Dead Alive) was re-making Kong, the idea left me cold. After all, I wanted him to do The Hobbit. I really had no interest in the picture until I saw a trailer. Dinosaurs! Giant bugs! A hugemungus gorilla roaring and beating his chest! The magic was back. And when I heard the running time was to be three hours, I knew Peter Jackson was back in form.

Of course, for all its action and chest-beating, Kong, both movie and beast, has a gentle heart. Like the Rings trilogy before it, it is emotionally powererful, and we become invested in the characters. We laugh and cry along with them, and ultimately, that's what makes this Kong worth watching. It is roughly and hour into the movie before we see the big guy, but the dramatic build-up is needed to get us involved in the lives of the characters. We care about actress Ann Darrow as she wonders where her next meal is coming from, and we are amused by the schemeing of movie producer Carl Denham. We root for him (at least at the outset) even though he's a tad, shall we say, shadey. When they and the rest of the crew head off to Skull Island to film their movie, the tension mounts. We know what's about to happen to them, and we care. That's what makes good cinema. Action and special effects are all well and good, but if we don't care, it ain't worth breaking that 10-spot.

Speaking of special effects, all in all they are very good, although a few shots looked fake. I'm not one to complain about CGI effects though. People who bitch and moan about how fake everything looks in movies should remember that twenty years ago there were models with strings and people in monkey suits running around on the silver screen. We had that disjointed, jerkey stop motion photography. I love the stuff, but man, talk about fake. So shut the hell up and enjoy the movie, warts and all.

My only minor complaint about Kong is that again Jackson is slightly excessive. The action scenes go on a bit too long, as do the dreamy, emotional bits. By a slight cut here and there, Jackson could have removed about 20 minutes of the film and made it a little tighter. But that's just a little thing. Kong is magic at the movies, and you deserve to see it. Unless of course, you are one of those weirdoes who doesn't enjoy dinosaurs, big-ass bugs, and huge honkin' apes.

Next up, my promised review of A Game of Thrones.

Until then, I remain,


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