I’ve heard and read nothing but good things about Peter Jackson’s King Kong. This weekend I got a chance to go see it with my friend Bruce. Long story short, there is no way that Mynagirl would ever go see a movie filled with so much animal cruelty, but she and her mom are deep into a home renovation project (from which I am excluded by everyone’s mutual consent), which left me at loose ends on Saturday, which is rare.
So on Saturday we saw the film, in a fairly full movie theater, and I must say that I do not get the hype. I will say this, the film managed not to be boring over its three hour length, but “not boring” does not an epic make.
On the positive side, the effects are pretty eye-popping and realistic for the most part. Kong’s face is very realistic, as is his fur, gait, musculature, and hands. I’d quibble with the fact that during his titanic clash with three T-Rex’s, Kong throws boxing jabs like Joe Frazier, drop-kicks like Jackie Chan, and does rolling, over-the-shoulder throws like Rowdy Roddy Piper. Not very…ape-like, I must say. But very well-rendered from digital effects perspective.
With regards to the story-telling, I think I can sum it up with one anecdote. An hour into the film Bruce leaned over and asked, “Isn’t there supposed to be a giant monkey in this movie?” The first hour sets up the tale by showing an idealized but still Depression-era New York, with fanatical movie producers, struggling engenues, salty tramp steamer captains, and earnest playwrites. The second hour begins with the tramp steamer voyage, complete with gruff but trustworthy crew members, secret maps to undiscovered islands, and a semi-kidnapped earnest screenwriter.
During the second hour we finally make it to Skull Island, replete with fog-shrouded rocky coastlines and the ship temporarily beached on the rocks, forcing them to stay just long enough for the plot to continue developing.
The first journey ashore is quite frightening, and the lady beside me with her two kids should be ashamed of herself. Her daughter appears to be 6 or 7, and her son appeared to be about 5. During a very scary encounter with the local natives, and I mean *very* scary, her son leaned over and said “Mommy, I’m scared…” and tried to crawl into her lap. She fended him off back into his seat, saying, “Look, your sister isn’t scared…stay in your seat…”. I almost couldn’t pay attention the rest of the film knowing that this poor kid was sitting there having to huddle alone with his fear next to his seemingly uncaring mother. And, ma’am, if you read this, next time believe it when the film is rated PG-13.
About halfway through the film we finally get a brief glimpse of Kong as he takes Ann Darrow off into the jungle. The next 45 minutes consist of the men