King Kong (2005) - * * * *
Originally posted on 12/29/05
King Kong is an out-of-body experience. There were times when my jaw dropped and stayed dropped for minutes at a stretch. Most of this was due to a roller coaster ride of a story, supported by top-notch acting and special effects. Peter Jackson has created something I have never seen on the screen before.
The last time I felt this way in a movie theater was probably Raiders of the Lost Ark, and I certainly remember it in Star Wars. And like George Lucas's latest installment of the Star Wars saga, Kong is a flawed masterpiece. The flaws include:
- A running length of over 3 hours
- A slow start to the story
- Jack Black's last line in the movie, "It was beauty killed the beast." (When I originally wrote this review, I didn't know that this was from the original movie.)
- Not enough peaks and valleys at the right time (it's either all peaks or all valleys)
But all of the positive aspects of the movie far outweigh the flaws; it's just that it could have been something really extraordinary.
At the heart of the film is Naomi Watts, the bright-eyed Australian actress whose face can project a thousand feelings. And Peter Jackson uses her face every chance he gets, with extreme close ups that reveal an outward and inward beauty that could beguile an ape like Kong.
Jack Black was actually a good choice for the filmmaker/huckster Carl Denham. Anyone who is familiar with Black's previous work in music group Tenacious D and movies like School of Rock and High Fidelity know he can project intensity and comedy. But he dials it down a notch or two in this movie, which actually helps you forget he's Jack Black.
I also greatly enjoyed the craftsmanship of this film. Never have I seen New York in the Thirties like I have in this movie (like I'd stepped into a time machine). Never have I seen a CGI character (Kong) look so damn real. Never have I seen a chase scene like the one I saw here. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith definitely has some competition for the Special Effects Oscar.
Peter Jackson has definitely created an impressive film with King Kong. If you're looking for one movie to see during the Holiday Season (or on a rainy night when the film is on DVD), this would be a good choice.
Metacritic score for King Kong: 81/100