Movies: King Kong

It is not very often that I see girls cry at the end of action flicks. It is also not very often that a man gets paid over twenty million dollars in advance to direct a film. King Kong, directed by Peter Jackson, creator of the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy, looks to shatter barriers in the film industry. From Jack Black playing a serious role to a humongous dinosaur stampede, Peter Jackson’s emotionally driven remake of the 1933 King Kong is full of wild surprises and will move even the manliest of men. Jackson’s version, so far grossing almost half a billion dollars, holds true to the original and expands upon originally neglected concepts. Set during the Great Depression, Jack Black plays Carl Denham a desperate director-turned-con artist, determined to journey to Skull Island to film an “unprecedented” movie. Although his producers decide to cut the project, Denham flees New York anyways. Because his departure is a last minute endeavor, he and his assistant Preston (Colin Hanks) cannot find a proper lead actress. Denham then discovers Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts), a struggling actress, and convinces her to come along. Denham’s crew of men journey to the lost island to film a movie unlike any other. On the island they come across Kong and realize the opportunities such an ape offers. After capturing the gigantic beast, they bring him back to New York, in order to present him as a show. Of course, King Kong’s strength is underestimated and he breaks free only to wreaks havoc on the New York populace. The main characters spend almost half of the movie on Skull Island, the home of King Kong and an entire ecosystem rampant with gigantism. On this island, audiences are dazzled by Jackson’s brilliant use of King Kong’s whopping two hundred million dollar budget. Skull Island is full of explosive adventures, such as when Jack Black’s crew is captured by a native population heavily reminiscent of the Orcs from The Lord of the Rings and the aforementioned dinosaur stampede. The acting in this movie was superb. It surpassed my original expectations. Jack Black is not generally known for his more solemn roles, since he most recently played a buffoon in movies like School of Rock and Orange County. However, Black proves in this latest production that he can be serious. The all-star cast includes Academy Award winner Adrien Brody, Naomi Watts, and Colin Hanks. This powerhouse cast drives the movie forward with the spectacular special effects. The mighty Kong is not a guy wearing a suit. Originally, Peter Jackson wished to create this film before The Lord of The Rings, but because King Kong was delayed due to a legal crossfire, he decided to test out all of his special effect ideas on Tolken’s famed trilogy. The same effects used to produce the man-beast Golem were used to create Kong – a photorealistic animation based off of movements of an actor in a full body suit. Beyond fawning over Kong’s larger-than-life realism, I cringed at the sight of realistic ten-foot leaches, five-foot spiders, and titanic dinosaurs. Along with coordinating a pile up of brontosauruses, Jackson generated a fistfight between Kong and a seemingly endless number of tyrannosaurus rexes. The virtual New York that Jackson created by independently generating a hundred thousand buildings looks breathtakingly realistic. From start to finish, the movie is a showcase of special effects that other movies will emulate for years to come. The cinematography, done by Lord of the Rings veterans Andrew Lesnie and Derek Whipple, could not have been done better. Many of the film’s angles and shots relied on scenery rather than graphics. With its special effects, King Kong was certainly entertaining. Although King Kong thus far may sound like a three-hour special effects extravaganza, it was much more. The relationship between Ann Darrow and Kong was well-developed. All of the characters in this movie had true depth, and easily drew me into the movie. Despite the movie’s epic length, it didn’t drag and carried something for everyone. However, it could have done without the fifteen-minute bronto chase. As Jon Adler ’08 put it, “too many dinosaurs!” I would highly suggest everyone watch this movie IN THEATER. One of its greatest strengths is in the audiovisuals; so unless you have a Yamaguchi sound system, I would spend ten bucks and go see it on the big screen. Final Grade: 5