Sunday, December 18, 2005


King Kong Review. And Update!

Sometimes you just have to be in the mood. Does that tell you everything you need to know? Sometimes, a lot of hype can be a bad thing. Maybe that tells you?

So Miss Tori and I saw King Kong. And I was totally in this movie's corner. Mainly because I was predisposed against the Narnia flick, and hoped that Kong would kick Aslan's butt. However, my prejudice against Narnia can wait for that review. Suffice to say, I really wanted to see Kong, and I really wanted it to be great. Based on the reviews I was seeing, my wants and hopes wouldn't be needed. It seemed like everyone and his brother loved the hell out of it. It was finally an epic for the ages. It had actually achieved what the already classic 1933 Kong had only aspired to. And yet . . .

It just didn't do it for me. Everyone knows this story, right? It's like Titanic; we all know how it ended, so I don't have to worry about spoilers, do I? Good.

Let's start with what I did like. Of course, it was gorgeous. Kong was expressive, emotive, and a little, but not too, anthropomorphized. If that's even a word. He wasn't like Benji, in other words, smarter than most humans and only lacking the ability to speak. I bought Kong. He's 25 feet tall and living on an island with dinosaurs, about which no one seems to have any interest, sure, but I bought him.

Skull Island was impressive, and so were the New York scenes. It looked like the 1930's to me. Of course in 2005, there's no excuse for a film not to look great on screen; even if the story is total crap, it should be good looking total crap. Which I'm not saying Kong was. So it looks great, and Kong was believable.

The actors were pleasant enough. The movie seems well-cast. I didn't feel like anyone did a bad job. Jack Black did not come off as a comic unable to take a more serious turn, and his energized, sometimes over the top personality was well suited for the showman he portrayed. I don't really recall the rest of their names, so why bother? The lady did a good job. I bought her connection to Kong, and his connection to her. Looks good, Kong good, actors good. And yet . . .

It just didn't do it for me, and I'm not sure why. Somehow, it seems like this movie is less than the sum of its parts. There's so much going for it, but the goods just weren't delivered. I can suspend my disbelief. I mean, I was all into Lord of the Rings. I just didn't have enough disbelief for King Kong.

I said no spoilers, but I didn't say no nit-picking. Feel free to stop here; maybe you can still enjoy the film.

Still here? Good.

The movie is divided into three parts: get everyone on the boat, run around on the island, and Kong berserk in NYC. Part one was good. I enjoyed it and believed it. Things got dicey on the island. Did I mention the dinosaurs that no one was interested in? Then there's this big wall that keeps Kong out of the tiny sliver of island that the cult tribe lives on. Sure, they can't cultivate crops, but it's an island. Maybe they live on fish. Maybe a native goes over the wall once in a while and snags a banana or two. What do I know? But where did this wall come from? And how were the people protected from Kong during the years they were building it? Or did Kong come after the wall was built? In which case, why would they build the wall, if there was no Kong? To keep the dinosaurs out, you say? Then, again, how were they protected from the dinosaurs while they were building the wall? Not buying it.

On the other side of the wall, there are still more questions. Was Kong immaculately conceived? Why do the dino-bats have this grudge against Kong? When Kong holds the girl, his hand is around her torso/waist area, with arms and head free. I could buy that he might be careful not to crush her, even when running or fighting for his life, but I wasn't sold on the notion that her neck wouldn't have snapped from whiplash about fifty times. I mean, I've heard of shaken baby syndrome, but this is ridiculous. And I understand you can't kill off every character, but when they get caught up in the stampede of dinosaurs and I heard that only four people were killed, my jaw hit the floor. I know it hit the floor, cause I spent a half hour combing all the spit out goobers and popcorn seeds from that previous showing out of my cool beard. You go see it, and then tell me how so many survived. Of course, I couldn't understand why the dinosaurs would run the direction they did, onto cliffs that crumbled under their weight, spilling several of them hundreds of feet to their deaths. And where did all these high cliffs come from? Every time you turn around on this island, you've got a thousand foot drop on your right and a thousand foot cliff rising up on your left. And how could an island this size support these dinosaurs anyway? There simply isn't enough food.

I know, I know. You're wondering how they captured Kong? Ok. They hit him in the nose with a bottle of chloroform, see . . . ummmm . . . and then they pull open this curtain and there he is, live and on stage in New York City. The whole part in the middle? Conveniently left out. Now if you're buying all this, then more power to you. I honestly hope you enjoyed this movie. I couldn't.

So now they're in NYC. Kong breaks loose to have a warm fuzy moment on the ice with the gal. Then the army comes and chases him onto the Empire State Building. Some planes fly by and shoot him up a little. The gal is there on top of the building, Kong hanging on and groaning in agony, and then he loses his grip and falls. Speaking of Titanic, am I the only one who thought of Jack sinking into the briny deep at the end there while Rose looked on pitifully? I swear to you, even before Kong fell, the image of Jack slipping away was in my mind. Kong did a pretty good impression.

Naturally, Kong's body is in perfect condition as people crowd his corpse in the street. Being a puddle of goo would take the fun out of it I guess.

Am I just a heartless bastard? Is it just me? Did I let my hopes get up too high? The adventures on the island weren't that great. I felt bad for Kong, but not that bad. I sorta hated the Jack Black character. The whole thing left me rather blah. Of course, I'm no enviro-kook, so maybe Kong's plight is lost on my stony heart. However, I had to strongly encourage Miss Tori to see this movie. She doesn't like animal films so much, because she will cry when bad things happen to them. She warned me ahead of time that she might be pretty upset when it ended. Yeah, even she wasn't too bothered.

I am willing to take some of the blame. I violated my rule to wait a few weeks before seeing anything in the theaters (I wanted Kong to beat Aslan, you see; and on that score, mission not quite accomplished, but still doable). The turn off your cell phone ad seems to work. Now they just need one telling people to turn off their kids. Why were kids even in there? One lady in the row ahead of me had an infant. You know, one of those children that's so small it needs to be held, as it can't keep it's body upright in a seat? The kids running the aisle were a little bit older. They could make gibberish talking noises as they clumped along. And who could forget cute little Carlos, sitting two seats over from me? Carlos wanted to make sure his mommy knew that Kong yells much better than the Hulk yells. He also wanted his mommy to know how brave Kong was. And you know what? According to Carlos, his daddy is brave too. Too bad daddy wasn't brave enough to tell Carlos to shut up. So maybe I'll give it another try on cable, in a controlled environment. Maybe then, I can become immersed enough in the story to overlook the nagging questions and annoying patrons.

I suppose it's bad form to swear to God, but why stop now? I swear, oh Lord, that I will pay extra to go to a grown up theater. Not an adult theater, I only pay regular to go there, sometimes less if I have a coupon from the free weekly alternapaper. I mean a grown up theater. A theater that doesn't allow anyone under 18. Failing that, I will pay slightly extra to attend a screening at a regular theater, said screening not admitting anyone under 18. Failing that, slaughter all children. This I pray for in your name O Lord! Amen.

Actual Update: See? I knew it wasn't just me! Here's someone who's on my vibe. Not on the whole slaughtering children thing, but on the "how could Kong eat?" part of the question. This'll get you started:
My concerns are more mundane. I'm assuming that the mysterious Skull Island is somewhere in the Pacific. I'd guess a journey back to New York would be at least 3-4 weeks. That's a long time to restrain such a large animal without it getting sick and dying. I'll put that aside, as well. My concerns and questions are as follows:

1. How are they feeding King Kong? That's got to be a lot of extra bananas.

2. Monkey shit. A lot of it. A LOT of it. Someone has to clean it up.

I hear you brother. Bill, consider So Quoted, so quoted. Heh heh heh.

(And if anyone gets that subtle movie reference, I salute you!)
Dang, I don't get the reference.

Nothing about the boat ride back? That's it, Peter Jackson is a hack.

Sounds to me like there's room for another movie, play it as a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern style comedy on the ride back.
I have to admit it's not really a real quote, just that "so quoted, so quoted. heh heh heh" connected in my mind to a similar construction and pattern of speech of a line from, what the heck, from Caddyshack.
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