Peter Jackson's King Kong - I have something to say
I had 'issues' with LOTR and wondered what Peter Jackson would do with King Kong. I am not disappointed at all. The film is beautiful and worth every paisa of the admission ticket and the money you would spend eating popcorn.
Set in 1933, the year of the original King Kong, Peter takes you quickly through an introduction of the time it was set in. In flash cuts he wraps up the Great Depression, the hunger, the Prohibition, the poverty and then lands you smack in the middle of Vaudeville in New York City. Then begins an adventure filled with lies, deceit, magic, humour and romance to the un-charted island and the discovery and the return.
An out of work actress, a mad film director in search of the elusive hit, a desperate but talented writer, a steamer boat captain who treads the wrong side of law, a Hollywood action hero almost like the lion from the Wizard of OZ, a mumbling cook with an attitude, along with a cast of thousands support the giant ape in this roller coaster adventure.
Cinematography by Andrew Lesnie is lyrical and in complete harmony with this story. He understands and treads the line between being labeled 'art-house' and 'mainstream'. He brings the miniatures, the CGI and the locations alive and under the believable umbrella. He had worked with the director on LOTR.
Film editing by Jamie Selkirk is a treat to watch. He hits the highs and lows and uses his grammar to the maximum. Yes, this film goes across a lot of genres. The midsection on skull island, I would have wished it to be shorter but am almost sure that it was not his call.
I can understand the director's need to introduce us to the other 'big' characters but it somehow reeks of studio intervention.
Original music by
James Newton Howard
Mel Wesson (additional music)
Mel Wesson (ambient music)
What can I say! It is an epic and so is the music.
Production design by Grant Major
Art direction by Simon Bright & Dan Hennah
Set decoration by Dan Hennah
Costume design by Terry Ryan
This talented team is so responsible for the look of the film. Though, I would like to add the entire special effect and CGI team to this. All of them are absolutely the best. Watch out for the Oscars and Golden Globes this year. This film will make a dent in all of them.
Peter Jackson adds wonderful little details from the 1933 film that inspired him. The hat in the restaurant sequence worn by Naomi Watts is similar to the one worn by Faye Wray in the original. The camera carried by the film crew in the film is the same as that used for filming the original 1933 classic.
I think I could go on and on about every department of the film, it does demand it but will keep it short.
Few minor quibs, very minor and please do overlook them:
The fact that there remains only one large primate - Peter Jackson does leave clues to that by leaving skeletons in the cave and probably the reason for Kong's loneliness.
The quick disappearance of the native tribe and why do they gave sacrifices only to Kong?
The way long mid-section dealing with the land of the 'Big';
The return of the Ventura crew with Kong, how? Etc...
Another thing my mind fought with was the way the dialogues were spoken: they sounded clichéd and stilted. I am not sure if the director did that on intent or was that the way it was spoken in 1933. Or is this his tribute to B movies? I am a bit lost on that but would take the B movie route as the answer.
Special mention for actor Andy Serkis (Gollum) who returns now as Kong's facial expression; the CGI dept. used over a hundred sensors on his face to re-create Kong’s. He also gives a mind-boggling performance as lumpy the cook.
Jack Black as the maverick director is exceptionally good and will attain greater heights in his career. Adrien Brody, who I loved in The Pianist, is an actor I would kill to work with. Inshallah!
And the woman you will love for years to come: Naomi Watts. She rises to the occasion. An absolutely stunning performance. Her Vaudeville had this kong completely rapt in attention.
A) The Vaudeville performance for Kong. The cuts to close up, sigh! I could fall in love.
B) Her reaction after she crosses the drawbridge with Driscoll.
C) Walking in the middle of the road in Manhattan towards Kong.
D) When she and Kong 'talk' on top of the empire state building.
E) Not in order; but the restaurant sequence and her practiced introduction on the steamer boat for Driscoll.
Okay, I admit, I might be in love.
Lastly, and I am sticking my neck out. If you thought Gone with the Wind was the last word in film romance, re-think that one. King Kong is one of the finest romances you will ever see.
There is a reason I chose to be a film maker, a storyteller and a writer and I think it was because of movies like King Kong and the various cinema adventures I saw as a child. This film is truly in the Zone. The magic of cinema.
Acknowledgements: IMDB for tech team details