Peter Jackson’s King Kong

Last night while hanging out with my slumbering son, I got the chance to watch Peter Jackson’s King Kong. My first thought was “3 hours!?! How can King Kong take 3 hours?” Then I remembered it was Peter Jackson and even though the man can’t make a movie less that 2 1/2 hours long they tend to be pretty good. Bearing this in mind, I sat down for the long haul.

So, I don’t remember having ever seen the original King Kong or any derivation there of. I know the basic story, of course, but not the details. What I found in this movie was a rather intricate story that focused more on the events leading up to Kong’s journey to New York City. The climactic scene on top of the Empire State is really a small part of the movie; really just the final cap on the overall story.

The Good:

Jack Black was by far the most surprising part of the movie. Black plays Carl Denham, the movie director whose fault(?) it is that Skull Island is found. What was so surprising was his performance. He was actually very good. I found it surprising not because I didn’t think he could do it; rather that he hasn’t done it before. Either way, he was an superb choice for this role.

Adrien Brody was a pleasent surprise for me. In the past year or so I’ve come to really like him as an actor. The first movie I recall seeing him in was The Village (an underrated movie if you ask me). The movie I really loved him in was The Jacket. A very creepy, thought twisting movie that I really enjoyed. Anyway, seeing him as Jack Drescol was just great. As always, his performance was spot on. No complaints there.

The natives on Skull Island totally creeped me out. They were so well done I felt like turning the lights on. In fact, they were so creepy that they distracted me from the story but I’ll talk more about that later…

Obviously, the main question everyone has is how does Kong look? In my opinion, he was perfect. He looked just like a real gorilla, just really, really big. There are several battle scenes between Kong and 3 T-Rex’s that were just so impressive you couldn’t help but cheer. Watching that particular scene made me regret having not seen the movie on the big screen.

The Bad

The first thing that comes to mind in regards to what I didn’t like was the length of the movie. 3 hours is a very long movie. It’s one of the reasons I opted not to see it in the theatre. Watching a 3 hour movie would be torture. I paused about half way through at home and took a break. Having said that, I understand why it was so long; there was a lot of story to tell. My complaint becomes more relevant though when we look at some of my other complaints. There were several scenes in the movie when I found myself thinking “I get the idea. Move on already.” There’s a “taxi chase scene” in New York City that seemed to go on forever. There are also many instances during the Skull Island portion of the movie where it just seemed to drag on and on. So, the movie could probably have been shortened by 20 to 30 minutes just by a bit more editing.

Earlier, I mentioned the natives in this movie and that they were so well done they were distracting. I know that seems contradictory, so that’s why I’m going to explain. First, the natives were just damn scary. Their appearance, their sounds, their actions; everything about them was just over-the-top scary. The were just so damn interesting I started thinking about the tribes of people and how they ended up they way they are. I found myself wondering how they got there, what there lives were like and why the developed into the type of tribe that they were (blood-thirsty killers). Perhaps the normal person wouldn’t have gone down this path, but my mind took off with it. 15 minutes later I had to stop and “rewind” the DVD to get back to a point were I was still paying attention.  Even thinking about it now, I find my self wanting to know more about the tribe. For instance, they obviously sacrifice their woman to Kong but why do they do that? Do they view his as a god? How did they build the massive wall? Did they build it or are they just there to guard it? The list of quesitons goes on and on. So, the question becomes, did Jackson make his natives too interesting? For me, the answer has to be yes. If I’d been at the theatre for this movie, I would have missed about 15 minutes because of them.

Conclusion

So, if forced to give it a rating, I’d say 4/5 stars. Maybe even 4 1/2. My largest complaint is the length of the movie. Everything else just seemed to flow really well so if you haven’t seen it, you really need to. If you’d like a professional’s opinion, check out Ebert’s review.