Peter Jackson is in the nicest situation in showbiz. Here's a guy who can direct any movie that he wants and make it over three hours long, whether it needs to be or not and the studio won't bat an eye. He spent how many years filming the Lord of the Rings movies? Like, three, right? Okay, so Kong obviously didn't take that long, but, gee wiz he sure made the hell out of this movie. I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that, in our digital age, Naomi Watts probably never had to spend any time in a mechanical ten foot ape hand. If she did I'm sure that it was a green colored ape hand that looked more like a lime green tree house than an actual hand. But, nonetheless, no one would have ever guessed. I think that one can only take so much CGI before one starts to forget whether one is watching a live action movie or animated. They look darn near the same a lot of the time. But, I will hand it to Kong most of the time the CGI didn't take me out of the story. Sure, there was the fleeting moment where I realized that any damsel in this much distress would have died from internal injuries sustained by being slung through a jungle while being clasped by the angry Kong. But, when that monkey snapped the jaws of the T-Rex, I cringed. When the hero and heroine were standing on the top of the slippery metallic Empire State, I couldn't help but think to myself, "Get down! That is a blatent safety code violation!" It looks very real and without ever having to leave the studio.
The story, you know. Girl meets monkey, girl makes monkey laugh, monkey doesn't eat girl but falls in love with her... You know, it's a tale as old as time.
But don't let the love monkey or the presence of Jack Black fool you, this is not a light movie. I've never seen the original but I can't imagine that it is quite this disturbing or bloody. I'm actually a little surprised that it was only rated R. It gets pretty darn scary. I actually had to take a little breather from the intense monster scenes that may be the coolest ever captured on digital microchips. No wonder Jackson kept us in the jungle for so long (a little too long, really). He had monsters to show off.
I loved the ride. It was pure adrenaline, popcorn fodder to be sure. But, in all honesty it could have been about 40 minutes shorter. Like I said before, we could have left the jungle sooner and spared us some of the stress. Also, there was a symblance of a subplot between a ship crew member and his apprentice that didn't ever fully play itself out like it wanted to. The movie spends at least 10-15 minutes fleshing out this relationship and giving us details of the characters only to leave it on the island and never resolve it. It didn't make sence to me. I also heard criticism about Black and Adrienne Brody who plays the human love interest to Watts (who is excellent). I personally thought Brody was great and continues to get my respect. The criticism I heard about him dealt with his and Watts' chemisty. I thought it was fine. I saw the problem with Jack Black to be more perception than actual acting chops. Black had done more serious roles before, but not since he's made it big. I thought that if I hadn't been expecting him to break out with one of his signiture goofball faces, I would have completely bought him as the greedy filmaker, desparate for his big shot. Unfortunately, he didn't ease us into the serious roles like Jim Carrey and Robin Williams did, but instead just went for it. Which I can respect. I also see where some would have a problem with that.
Everyone will like this movie, so I highly recomend it. But, keep in mind the scariness of it. Amanda and I saw it with a packed house of mostly families with small kids. Talk about a noisy lot! The kids obviously shut up when the monkey arrived, but that doesn't happen for at least an hour into the movie. This is brilliant filmaking, really, holding the big guy out for a grand entrance. But to kids it's torture. They came to see a big ape, not plot structure and exposition. Oh, yeah, and I think I already mentioned the 3+ hours running time. Leave the ankle biters at home and go watch this great flick in some peace and quiet. If I'm not mistaken the studios are churning out family friendly junk on a bi-weekly basis now, so they aren't in short supply.