Wednesday, December 21, 2005

KING KONG: Another Jackson masterpiece

(adventure thriller)
Time: 187 mins
Rating: * * * *
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AFTER the spectacular conclusion to the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, The Return Of The King, director Peter Jackson presents the Return of Another King — King Kong. The story of Kong, indisputably the Lord of Skull Island, has been Jackson’s passion since he was a young film-maker. And with his experience gleaned from the epic LOTR trilogy, he is determined to make King Kong bigger and better than ever.

Jackson’s King Kong follows the basic plot of the 1933 original — and he has even given the film a grey- brownish hue of the old black-and- white movies. It is the Depression era in the US and vaudeville actress Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) is destitute after failing to land an audition at a local theatre. Hungry and broke, she resorts to pinching food when maverick director Carl Denham (Jack Black) offers her a role in his new film.

Denham, of course, is desperate too. He is being pursued by creditors and the police he has to find an actress (“Fay Wray is not available,” he is told) to join his cast and crew and sail away to an uncharted island immediately. Also on board the clunky steamer is screenwriter Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody) and lead star Bruce Baxter (Kyle Chandler).

The voyage to ‘Skull Island’ recalls that of Titanic as Ann gets romantically involved with Jack while sinister intrigues are being discussed among the ship’s crew. There is also an interesting subplot about a ship’s boy named Jimmy (Jamie Bell).

When we arrive on Skull Island (in the second act), it is on to Indiana Jones territory as the natives kidnap Ann and prepare her as a sacrifice to their god, Kong. It takes a good hour before we get to see the Giant Ape but there are enough thrills in the kidnap and subsequent rescue mission to keep us riveted to the screen. Ann’s encounter with Kong is both fascinating and touching. The big ape is so intrigued by his blonde captive that he starts to play with his ‘food’. Ann, on the other hand, realises this and entertains her captor with a comedy vaudeville routine.

The ‘connection’ is made and the poor Beast does not stand a chance with our Beauty.
Jackson, meanwhile, heightens the ‘rescue’ mission by throwing in the thrills and spills of Jurassic Park — with Kong in a seat-gripping battle against a bunch of tyrannosaurs, and Jack and his shipmates fighting giant bugs and bats. These sequences, however, have no relevance to the plot and are more like Jackson showing off his hair-curling special effects and giving us more ‘value for money’.

The third act takes us back to Manhattan which now looks brighter and richer. Kong has become the biggest show in town and he pines for Ann. When they meet, Jackson throws in a poetic scene on a frozen pond in Central Park, before Kong’s inevitable encounter with bi-planes on top of the Empire State Building.

It is a heart-rending climax as Kong fights for his life and that of his beloved Ann. Denham closes with the famous quote: It was beauty killed the beast. However, we all konw that it was Jackson’s passion that fashioned this masterpiece.


At 12:16 pm, Anonymous mach5 said...

I felt King kong was an awesome left me quite breathless for more than an hour throughout the Skull Island part. But when i first heard the press release that PJ was going to do Kong, i was wondering how the heck r u gonna make a convincing movie about a 30 foot gorilla with dinosaurs and other weird creatures...but he still manages to deliver with convincing cgi in MOST scenes and a darn good script ...also i thought there was one too many characters left undeveloped.
Excellent fun. Worth a watch in the big screen.

At 7:07 pm, Blogger Lim Chang Moh said...

Hi Mach5,
Thanks for your comment. Like you, I was lukewarm about the idea of a Kong remake although I had expected that PJ would have to give it something extra. And I think people liked it so much because they had lower expectation of the movie than, say, LOTR.
Yes, some characters were left underdeveloped simply because PJ needed to focus on the main ones. I particularly liked the subplot abt the ship's boy. It gets the young people in the audience. Cheers and Merry Xmas.


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