Sunday, December 18, 2005

eyeCandy: King Kong (2005) 4/5

I got the chance to finally see Peter Jackson's King Kong with the guys from Hak5 and WASD this weekend. I enjoyed the movie but, if I had to use just one word to describe it, it might have to be "overwrought". Don't get me wrong, the movie is beautifully filmed - jungle shots are fantastic, the scenes on the Empire State Building are so dazzling that I felt like I would fall out of my seat, and a fantastic amount of attention has been invested in this production. However, the movie certainly has its flaws.

My biggest complaint is that it is over three hours long! The original 1933 King Kong, the main inspiration for Jackson's movie, ran only 1 hour and 40 minutes. It takes almost the length of the original movie (or at least over an hour) before we even see Kong in the newer version. Jackson spends way too much time overdeveloping the main characters of Ann Farrow and Carl Denham - these are stock character types and just don't need this kind of depth - we already know who these characters are because they are cliches. A lot of other things could be tightened up as well, but the first hour could easily be compressed into fifteen minutes with no loss to the story.

However, there are lots of good things for sure. The fight between the T-Rexes and Kong is awesome - beautifully choreographed and well-rendered. The jungle is teeming with interesting creatures and the attention to detail is staggering. The movie as a whole certainly communicates its central "beauty and the beast" theme more strongly than the original and sympathy for Kong is strongly evoked. Although I was a little surprised that the compositing of some shots wasn't a little smoother (the dinosaur stampede for instance), the visuals were typically an absolute pleasure (even down to the wonderful recreation of 1930's New York City).

I think I understand how this movie became a little bloated. Jackson has been self-admittedly obsessed with the original since he was young and I expect his fascination yielded more content than your average person would need. In addition to this, coming off the tails of the Lord of the Rings, it's understandable how Jackson would have trouble massaging his epic efforts back to accomodate a much simpler story. Hopefully this isn't a trend for Jackson, as most movies can't accomodate the scope of Tolkien's work.

All in all I think that the new Kong could desperately use a "Phantom Edit" treatment - cut the first hour down to 15 minutes and compress the next couple of hours as needed. Jackson had a chance to make a superb 1.5-2 hour movie and has instead given us a pretty good 3 hour one - directors take heed.

PS: I am very excited to play the new video game based on the movie, though. Jackson and others in the film had integral roles to its development and it looks great.
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12/18/2005 06:04:00 PM  

2 Comments:

Anonymous Justin Thorp said...

I agree with your assessment of the movie. I would have given it 3.5/5.

December 18, 2005 8:38 PM  
Blogger Cameron said...

totaly agree with you guys. A bit too much for me.

December 19, 2005 2:31 AM  

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