December 22, 2005

Beauty and the Beast

Today’s Movie Review – King Kong

Matt Watson – 4 Baseballs

It’s not everyday you get to see a 25 foot tall gorilla run amuck in New York City. For that matter it’s very rare to have an epic film like King Kong provide both white knuckle, squirm in your seat action and a poignant story with a lot of heart. On one hand you have a forbidding island with treacherous shores, vicious dinosaurs, giant insects, and fearsome natives. On the other hand you have a misfit group of adventurers made up of the beautiful Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) a down on her luck vaudevillian struggling to get by, Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody) the talented playwright and screen writer, and Carl Denham (Jack Black) the success at any cost movie director. These elements are woven together to form the perfect stage for the real star of this show, Kong. Director Peter Jackson takes all the lessons learned from Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and puts them to good use. Kong is larger than life. He’s expressive, impressive, and most importantly completely natural. Kong is not a monster here, he’s simply an animal. There is no malice in his actions which is a necessity to allow the audience to identify with our furry hero.

The movie follows Carl Denham and his movie crew as they embark on a voyage to mysterious Skull Island to make a travel picture. From the get go it’s clear that Carl will stop at nothing to get his movie made, not even bankruptcy or the police. The crew is traveling on the SS Venture a dilapidated steamer that usually freights around live animals for zoos and circuses. The crew of the Venture is your typical rough and tumble crowd complete with a surly captain. After a very harrowing arrival, the crew wanders through the ruins of the island filming for the movie only to find that they’re not alone. When Ann is kidnapped and presented as an offering to Kong our intrepid crew sets out to save her. Once on the other side of the wall the movie really picks up speed and we’re treated to one heart pounding sequence after another. It’s here that the special effects shine. We’re treated to some fantastic chase sequences, some devastating falls, and some skin crawling uglies. There’s something utterly entrancing and very satisfying about seeing a giant ape do battle with a dinosaur. Eventually fair maiden is rescued from her captor and Kong is trapped and brought back to New York to be exhibited to the public, the famous 8th wonder of the world. The New York of the 1930’s is vividly recreated here and provides a lush backdrop for the climax of the film.

At three hours, the movie is long and probably should have been cut down but it doesn’t suffer from the inclusion of extra material. Still, it provides enough room to thrill the audience and allows them witness the disintegration of Carl’s humanity, the budding heroism of Jack, and forming of a beautiful friendship between a girl and an ape. At one point Ann and Kong sit mesmerized by the beautiful island sunset, content to just sit back and take it all in. I feel a little bit like that when I think about the movie. It’s well worth it to sit back and take it all in.

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