KING KONG-New Zealand/United States/Germany-2005
Despite the fact that it is incredibly long and excruciatingly overacted in certain scenes (thanks to Jack Black), Peter Jackson’s King Kong is every bit the love letter to the 1933 original that he intended it to be. Aided by amazing performances from Naomi Watts and Andy Serkis, Jackson has made a film that is every bit as ambitious as his monumental Lord of the Rings trilogy. It is a far cry from his earlier efforts such as the darkly funny and immensely gory Dead Alive, the brilliantly written Heavenly Creatures and the painfully monotonous The Frighteners; the latter being a film I personally feel that Jackson should keep off of his resume.
As with the original the main core of the story is the same; boy meets girl and does everything he can to make her happy and to protect her, eventually giving his life for her. Of course now would be a good time to mention that the ‘boy’ of the story is a fifty-foot tall gorilla; but I get a feeling you already knew that.
I tell you what; let’s talk about Kong. More to the point let’s talk about the man who brings him to life, Andy Serkis. There has been controversy as to whether what Serkis does in roles like that of Kong or Gollum could be considered acting. Let me put it to you this way; if not for Serkis and the incredible range of emotions he displays in these roles, Gollum and Kong would merely be an exercise in CGI excellence. With him, they are every bit as real as the human actors they coexist alongside.
I will say, however, that Serkis has a lot of help from Naomi Watts in her role as Ann Darrow. I mentioned in my review of The Ring that Watts does amazing things with her eyes to express emotions and that is never more evident than in King Kong. Watts and Serkis play off of each other brilliantly.
Now comes the biggest question of all and that’s how’s the action? After all, this is a movie about a big damn ape protecting a beautiful young lady from the perils of the jungle, so it had better have action aplenty. Well, fear not, for I will go on record and state that the battle between Kong and the V-Rex is one of the most amazing fight scenes ever filmed. It is rivaled only in scale by the melee between the Bride and the Crazy 88’s in Kill Bill, and the Spider-man and Doctor Octopus train battle in Spider-man 2. It is that damn good.
Moving on to the weaker points of the film of which there is only one. I can forgive the excessive length of King Kong. What I cannot forgive is the mugging and overacting from Jack Black. Black would have done good to have watched Robin William’s performance in One Hour Photo to see how an otherwise hyperactive actor can deliver a subdued and amazing performance. I wonder if Peter Jackson knew what he was getting into when he cast Black.
So, is King Kong a keeper? Well, all I can say is that if I were a beautiful blonde woman in some scary jungle, I’d sure want that big gorilla having my back. That is, as long as I don’t have to put out. I’d dodge that bullet by telling him I’m saving myself for marriage.
- Chat with ‘Apes,’ ‘Tintin’ star Andy Serkis Friday (herocomplex.latimes.com)
- James Franco: Andy Serkis Deserves Credit From Actors! (justjared.buzznet.com)
- James Franco calls for Andy Serkis Oscar recognition for mo-cap turn (guardian.co.uk)
- My Favorite Movies: “King Kong” (2005) (evsmoviezone.wordpress.com)