King Klong & The Island of Monsters

by Alan Rapp on December 14, 2005

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: King Kong
  • IMDb: link

See what happens when you reward a director for 4 hour CGI heavy movie! King Kong is a maddening film. Peter Jackson has been dreaming of making Kong for years now.  Who would have thought his dream would become our nightmare?  There are some good moments and acting but it’s all been hidden beneath so much CGI that you can hardly see it.  I preferred the remake of Mighty Joe Young with Charlize Theron or the 1976 King Kong with Jeff Bridges to this monstrosity.

The story in a nutshell is this…  Filmmaker Carl Denham (Jack Black) along with his writer (Adrien Brody), stars Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) and Bruce Baxter (Kyle Chandler) and his crew travel to the mysterious Skull Island to film a movie.  After about a third of the film’s running time they arrive on the island and Miss Darrow is taken captive by a aborigine tribe of pole jumpers (who mysteriously appear and disappear completely in the film) who plan to sacrifice her to Kong (voice by Andy Serkis).  While trying to save Ann the group encounters every kind of CGI monster you can imagine including numerous bugs, velociraptors, T-Rexes, oh who gives a crap, there’s a bunch of monsters okay?  After saving Ann, Carl decides to capture Kong and take him to Broadway to make his fortune.

The main problem with the film is it just can’t decide what it wants to be.  At times it’s The Lord of the Rings (and I mean that literally as exact shots are reconstructed from The Two Towers).  For almost half the running time Skull Island gives us so much we have seen before and little to justify the time spent there.  We get Jurassic Park, the swamp of Degobah, giant Man-Bats, tube monsters I swear were stolen from the animated G.I. Joe, bug creatures from Arachnophobia and Starship Troopers.  Is it a horror film, a love story, a morality tale, an action film, or a computer game?

The film should come with a motion sickness warning.  The roller coaster shooting style of the film is vomit inducing.  The camera jumps around in the quick action scenes not because it helps the look of the film but only because it can.  We’ve already got a director who uses CGI just because he can folks, we don’t need another one.

There are also some King Kong sized plot holes and logical issues.  How does Kong not break every bone in Watts’s body as he slings her around so recklessly?  When did Adrien Brody’s playwright character become the master bounty hunter that can track Kong down on the entire island in just an afternoon?  Why are there not monsters in the water (they’re everywhere else!!)?  Why won’t one of the monsters kill that Jimmy Olsen (Jamie Bell) kid?  Is Baxter a coward or hero?  Add to this really heavy-handed musical cues (the music swells when the characters break wind) and some odd editing as the characters jump across the island in split second time.

Are there good things about Kong?  Well there’s Kong who’s extremely well done until they turn him and Watts into the two stooges.  Also there’s the Depression Era Times Square which aside from being too clean is accurately recreated.  Watts gives the film’s best performance (okay not a great recommendation, but there you go) and the rest of the cast is serviceable.  This could have been a good film, but is taken so far off course as we are bombarded with CGI fight scenes and destruction mixed with cutesy moments of Kong and Watts that the story is lost.

Between this and the 1976 version I’ll take Jeff Bridges any day.  The film gets the beauty killed the beast message (it smacks you in the face with it and then repeats it in case you missed it) but the under-current of the story is buried under a weighty running time and way too much CGI monster video game fights.

The true story disappears under such enormous waste.  Kong is a morality tale.  He isn’t the monster; we are.  It’s touched on, but trampled over and forgotten by the dinosaur stampede, the attack of the bug creatures, and T-Rex versus Kong and more mindless and bloodless CGI action than Narnia.  Fans of Watts will enjoy her performance and the level of complexity in the CGI Kong is impressive but the film itself is a steaming pile of monkey crap.

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