Movie Name: King Kong
Studio: WingNut Films
Release Date(s): December 14, 2005
MPAA Rating: PG-13
A struggling filmmaker named Carl Denham (Jack Black) on his last legs flees New York City in 1932 with just a camera, a crew, and the hope that the legend of the mythical Skull Island is true. Discovering Skull Island, Carl sets out to make a movie written by playwright Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody) and a newly discovered vaudevillian actress named Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts). When Ann is sacrificed to a giant ape, Jack must rescue her. Managing to capture the beast, Denham has a new plan for success, but taking King Kong out of his natural environment might not be the best plan.
Directed by Peter Jackson, King Kong was his first big follow-up film to his Lord of the Rings trilogy. The movie was met with relatively positive reviews and won Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing.
You can tell that King Kong was a dream project for Peter Jackson. King Kong inspired so many filmmakers with its style and look that it is no surprise that someone as visual as Peter Jackson would want to make it. Jackson even restored the legendary insect portion of the original film to show what happened to the sailors thrown off the log by Kong. The problem is that Peter Jackson also has some bad tendencies that sometimes counteract his directing.
King Kong has a run time of over three hours. This wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for an hour set up to even get to the island. The pre-Kong portion of this movie just goes on-and-on. The characters in the original King Kong were rather flat, but the story tries to develop them in this segment (complete with a plucky young Jimmy played by Jamie Bell). The movie does pick-up on Skull Island, but constantly hits stoppers with events like the forever lasting (and fake looking) dinosaur stampede. I do think that the New York City segment is the best part and best looking part of the film.
For the most part the film does look great…The sets are all very dynamic, but once again, Peter Jackson sabotages a nice looking movie with these unnecessary and nonsensical slow-motion portions…oh no! It’s a skull…lets go in slow motion! It just doesn’t make sense…maybe if we took out half the slow motion the runtime would have been cut down!
The saving grace of the film is King Kong himself and the great relationship and on screen chemistry he has with Naomi Watts. King Kong was created through capture-motion with Jackson’s Gollum Andy Serkis and many argued he should have been nominated for an Oscar (Serkis also doubles as Lumpy the ship’s cook). Like with Gollum, Serkis brings real life to King Kong and gives him heart with scenes like Ann’s entertaining of him and the playing in the park on the frozen pond…If you’ve watched videos of apes, they do play like this and Jackson smartly remembered that Kong wasn’t a human, but an ape.
As mentioned, Naomi Watts plays great off King Kong which has to be difficult considering she’s acting without anyone around her. Like every version of King Kong, the scenes at the end of the film were very tense, and you could feel Watts’ sadness as Kong takes his plunge…she probably wasn’t happy she had to return to her chemistry-less relationship with Adrian Brody.
King Kong is a disappointment because despite being a remake it had so much potential. It is better than the 1976 version, but if they had managed to cut it down to two hours it probably would have been great. I love Peter Jackson, but it seems like he lost control of this movie. You can’t keep a good ape down…King Kong returned as part of the Legendary MonsterVerse in Kong: Skull Island in 2017.