Friday, December 16, 2005

[BNAT] King Kong (2005)

I almost hesitate to say this, but in a lot of ways, as a film, it's even better than Lord of the Rings. Of course, those two stories are vastly different. But, even more so than with LOTR, I think, you can really ... really ... see Jackson's love for the source material bleeding all over the screen. It wouldn't be fair to compare it to the original - after all, if there were no 1933 King Kong, this new one would never have been made. It's as if the original Kong is one of the greatest songs ever written. And while it's the acoustic version, Jackson's film is a full orchestral "cover" of the song with dancers and light effects, but it still manages to stick to the heart of its inspiration.

The movie is three hours long, but Jackson uses the time wisely, and it never feels that long. There's lots more characterization, exploring of the relationships, and - most significantly - interaction between Ann and Kong. This movie is far far more sympathetic to Kong and he's much more layered than the original creature. But then all the characters are. Ann Darrow, in this film, is a vaudeville performer. She's reluctant to take Carl Denham's movie offer because it's a sad role and she's used to making people laugh. That's a huge part of her interaction with Kong. There's a great scene where Kong watches her do a little of her pratfall act, and she actually makes him laugh (and ook).

The action scenes are absolutely breathtaking. Two of them really stand out and got huge cheers from the audience. At one point, the crew of the Venture is being chased by dinosaurs. Just ... I can't even describe it, it's so incredible. And it finishes with them falling all over one another like dominoes, and crushing several of the men in the process. And the other action scene that stood out was when Kong is fighting the dinosaurs. He's kicking ass, taking names, and the whole time he's holding Ann and never once drops her.

The romance between Jack and Ann is well done. They have a nice meet cute and Adrien Brody (mmmmmm...) and Naomi Watts have great chemistry. And there's a line about "subtext" that made me fight not to laugh out loud. But the main love story, of course, is between Ann and Kong. Naomi Watts is really outstanding in this. It would have been so easy for her to just be the screaming, trembling victim, but she expresses so much and so many layers just with her face. Someone - can't remember who right now - compared her performance in this to a particular scene she did in Mulholland Drive where she was auditioning for a part, and I couldn't help thinking of that while I was watching her.

Favorite scene ever: Kong has just escaped from the theater in New York. He's found Ann and is carrying her through the streets. He steps into Central Park and reaches a pond that has frozen. There are a few cute moments when he slips around on the ice, and finally he falls on his bottom, still holding Ann. The next couple of minutes is one of the most magical things I've ever seen. Kong sliding around on the ice. Ann leaning her head back and enjoying the cold breeze. Gah! *cries*

There's great funny stuff, too. Jackson has a great sense of fun with all of the New York stuff. There's a reference to The Most Dangerous Game, too, which we saw just before this. When the original actress for the film backs out, they consider Fay Wray, but she's busy filming ... the film we just got done watching. Hee! Oh, and I laughed so loud when Denham is pitching the movie, and one of the studio execs asks if there will be footage of the naked tribal women. *dies* You couldn't have done that in a 1933 script.

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