Details: (M), 187 mins, English
Synopsis: A thrilling epic adventure about a legendary gorilla captured on a treacherous island and brought to civilisation, where he faces the ultimate fight for survival.
King Kong is Peter Jackson's Jurassic Park.
Long before the Lord Of The Rings movie trilogy was even a twinkle in Peter Jackson's eye, the NZ director had tried to remake King Kong, the movie he says inspired him to become a filmmaker in the first place at the tender age of nine. This week sees his dream fully realised in a three-hour effects laden spectacular. It stars comedian Jack Black (School Of Rock), Oscar winner Adrien Brody (The Pianist) and Australian actress Naomi Watts (I Heart Huckabees), who, like Fay Wray and Jessica Lange before her, gets to add her own iconic scream to cinema history.
Jackson's remake follows Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack's 1933 groundbreaking original 'man meets monster' movie pretty faithfully, with a few necessary 'in jokes' to update the story. It is 1933 and the ruthless, ambitious moviemaker Carl Denham (Jack Black, looking and acting like a miniature Orson Welles), is out to make a big fat hit to revive his failing career. He recruits failing starlet Ann Darrow (Watts), writer Jack Driscoll (Brody), and sails to Singapore in search of his giant movie. Shipwrecking on a prehistoric island, what Denham and his movie/sea going crew stumble upon is a lost land of the giants, a veritable 'Jurassic Park', home to a monstrous 25-foot ape. A reluctant star is born.
Jackson's King Kong remake is equal parts hit and miss. The story unnecessarily lags in places ('is Kong, is long' at 187 minutes), the romance between Ann and Jack is child's play, and the attempt at satire on commercial filmmaking is so simplistic it makes Playschool look downright sophisticated. (The comment on the corruption inherent in making movies could have gone so much further). Perhaps these areas of the script were left scant due to pressure Jackson must have felt towards the younger audience 'demographic' which supported his Rings trilogy so enthusiastically ('keep it simple, there are kids watching!').
That said, there are also great chunks of King Kong that are extraordinary to watch, thrilling, exciting and compelling, especially when Jackson returns to the horror director he once was, unleashing giant creepy crawlies on his poor little human characters. (There are some beautifully inventive deaths, even poor old 'Gollum' – UK actor Andy Serkis – cops it!) It is even more evident in this film that Jackson is aiming to be the George Lucas or Steven Spielberg for a new generation. If Lord Of The Rings was Star Wars, King Kong has to be Jurassic Park. The evidence, and references to those movies, is right there on the screen.
The real star of the show however is the great ape himself, 'King Kong', and thankfully much of the film is devoted to him and his struggle. He is a beautifully realised, totally believable, sad monster of nature, the ultimate sacrifice to man's quest to be king of the jungle. Once the film is given over to him King Kong roars.
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