movies: king kong

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

king kong - the eighth wonder of the worldSometimes lots of money and special effects and hype make a movie good.... and then there are the other times...

King Kong, sadly, pretty much falls in the latter category...

I've been looking forward to this movie for a while, I enjoyed all three Lord of the Rings movies, so I wasn't too worried Jackson turning Kong into a turkey...

And while it wasn't a turkey... it certainly had it's flaws...

To start with, the three hour running time was a little daunting... as I said before we saw it... "How do they make 'Go to island, find giant ape, ape fights dinosaurs, men capture ape, ape escapes in New York, ape climbs Empire State Building, ape fights biplanes, ape dies' last three hours?"... And I'm still kind of wondering... there was at least 20-30 minutes that could have been carved out of the movie without it loosing anything...

All in all, it starts pretty well... the build up to setting out for the island is good... and basically, up until Kong arrives on screen, it wasn't that bad... then the effects kind of take over.

Unlike Jevyeddy, I didn't buy into a lot of the special effects, but then I have the unfortunate talent of being able to see a lot of special effects where other people say they can't... in Kong's case, the dinosaurs all looked really, really CG (and don't even get me started on the herd of brontsauruses rolling down a hill), and after seeing Jurassic Park about a week ago, Kong's attempt at CG dinosaurs, particularly the raptors, paled in comparison to the effects in a movie that is twelve years old. Yes, I hear some of you cry, but Jackson was trying to do an homage to the original... homage is one thing... bad CGI is something else entirely.

The other thing that grated on my nerves during the first hour was the use of shaky camera moves and film ramping effects for no real reason at all... it's not like it was a filmwide stylistic choice, it only really happened at the gate, before they go into the jungle, so it was just irritating. And yes... I know it was supposed to create mood... but again... just irritating.

One of the other things that kept pulling me out of the moment was the really bad lighting on most of Naomi Watt's closeups in the jungle... every time it would cut to a closeup, I was like... "Well, she's still on a soundstage... flatly lit"... a fact which was made worse by the fairly good CG lighting on Kong. And it's not like effective CG lighting is that hard... other, much lower budget movies have done brilliant jobs at it.

Yes, the closeups on Kong's face were brilliantly detailed, every wrinkle, every hair, and big glossy brown eyes... but some of the full body shots didn't work as well, although the shots of him climbing the Empire State Building were quite well done.

And then there was the story... or lack of same... or more specifically, character development... why exactly does Watt's character "fall in love" with Kong? I know he saves her life and everything... and she's supposedly got really crap taste in men... but come on! Or is she just channelling Dian Fossey? She's gotta know it's never going to work out... he's a 25 foot tall gorilla for pete's sake... although, male gorillas do have tiny genitals for their body size... so I'll let you all do the math on that one...

Then there was the number of times most of the cast ended up in situations where every single one of them should have been dead within the first minute, yet, amazingly, all but a couple (those characters without names of lines to start with) survive... did we really need to do that over and over and over... it got to the stage where I was rolling my eyes... not to mention the fact that Watt's character should have had a broken back, or, at least, neck, the way Kong kept throwing her around at the beginning.

There were a couple of the performances that I quite enjoyed... the very understated Jack Black, who I don't normally like, playing the worst kind of snake oil salesman... and Jamie Bell... but mostly because he's growing up kinda cute.

In short... Kong, too long, too much fluff...

yani's rating: 5 rampaging gorillas out of 10

1 comments:

Muse Thursday, December 22, 2005 12:30:00 pm  

hollywood goes overboard on special effects, all the CGI makes it look like a computer game to me. I like the original, but i have to admit the 1976 version of KING KONG with Jessica lang was fantastic. Critics like to call it a mess but I used to want to BE jessica lang after seeing that. Even the tribesman dancing was hot during the marriage ritual. It was this film that was trying to be King kong and erotic all at the same time. You sorta overlook the fact Kong is a big mechanical furry ape, but then again at least it's not CGI. It's a gem ;-)

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