It was righteous. I laughed, I cried, I said “Oh, my God” a lot. Jack Black is intense, Adrien Brody is natural and grounded, and Naomi Watts is the more perfectly perfect that ever perfected.
I don’t get it… is Jean Grey dead, or what?
Yeah, it’s bloated, and I wouldn’t hate a Phantom Edit showing up somewhere, perhaps complying with the requests I`m about to make. Hell, I got Final Cut, I could do it. How much trouble can you get in for that? If you’re not just cutting out naughty bits for your Salt Lake City video store. And then they put you on CNN doing a point-counterpoint with Joe Eszterhas, because no one’s better equipped to argue for the First Amendment than the man who gave us Sharon Stone’s beaver and “I`m erect. Why aren’t you erect?”
If Robbie Coltrane mated with a ferret
Anyway. King Kong was too long, but not intolerably so. Its major malfunction is that it’s really three movies of varying quality – everything with King Kong or Naomi Watts was grade A, and anything with Jack Black or Adrien Brody rated at least a B, but the other subplots were C and worse.
The whole thing with the first mate and his twenty-year-old surrogate son was shockingly bad; I mean, they made one grown man say to another: “It’s not about being brave, Jimmy.” Maybe it worked in the script, but in the movie it was so weak and thudding and went nowhere except to help kill off all the characters of color that I can’t believe the editor didn’t chloroform Peter Jackson and cut it all out. But maybe it’s so bad it’s good. I dunno.
OMG you’re white too? That’s sooo great, let’s make out
(This reminds me that they put a German, a Jamaican and a Brit on the ship and nuked each of their accents. A multiculti crew would have been way funner, though it might have called attention to how only the white cultis live.)
It’s OK, I`ll just be over here being hotter than you
The melodrama itself wasn’t out of place — the lightly stylized acting in the first act was enjoyable and evocative and didn’t bother me. But the prime advantage of broad acting is how it can speed along the story. I mean, if the heroine’s father figure publicly reminds her how everyone she’s loved has let her down, and she crumples and flings the address of a girly bar, you can gloss over a lot of character development. Instead, this movie gives you forty minutes of these developments where ten would suffice.
Ow, my character is underwritten!
Another problem is that we know they eventually get to the island, so the time spent red herring-ing us into thinking they’re not going to make it comes across as annoying, not suspenseful. No, Captain Dead-ringer-for-Faramir-all-the-way-to-the-clear-mascara, you’re not going to reroute to Hong Kong. No, crew-that-took-twenty-minutes-to-suss-out-they’re-going-to-Skull-Island, you’re not going to off Jack Black or rat him out to the captain. No, Naomi Watts, you’re not going to take so much offense to Jack Black asking your dress size that you walk out of the story (question though — if she’s offended enough to leave the table, how does he so easily persuade her to trust him? And why doesn’t he just tell her why he asked — that he’s trying to use existing costumes?)
SWM seeks Size 4 SWF for SW fun
Furthermore, there was too so much action. It lessens the impact of the fantasmic dinos-in-vines sequence that it’s preceded by a brontosaurus stampede that’s awesome and exciting and all but goes nowhere and accomplishes nothing. And none of the Manhattan car chase lives up to the intensity of Kong breaking loose and pursuing Adrien Brody up the seats at Carnegie Hall. I like action and over-the-top and all, but I did have to check my pee-mail at the halfway mark, and that’s my criterion for whether a movie is too long.
Which is not to say there isn’t an assload of suspense. Depth measurements in the fog are suspenseful. The prolonged Kong-summoning ritual kicks enormous ass — when Ann Darrow’s feet start dragging off the beams, my heart pounded. Like these, the most suspenseful moments come from the sense of inevitability, and feeling how close these characters came to escaping their fate – one hesitating before boarding the ship, another nearly leaping off the side. But they have to come, because there is MONKEY! And I know he’s an ape, not a monkey and blah blah blah… MON-KEY! MON-KEY!
Other stuff I appreciated:
- Andy Serkis. Huh huh huh. I watched Topsy Turvy almost exclusively to see what the guy who was going to be Gollum looked like. Although in it the camera doesn’t get closer to him than a medium, my investigation was rewarded with several lingering shots of his callipygious physique. Wow. Still, it’s the acting that keeps me coming back – he was good in Thirteen Going On Thirty, for Chrissake.
Be discomfited by my baffling gluteal hottness
I wasn’t even interested in King Kong until I found out he was Kong. I was a tidge disappointed to see him eaten by a horde of vulvic leeches, but if you gotta go, you gotta go. (By the way, leech sequence was the point at which a mom took her crying five-year-old out. Not cool, inattentive Mom. Not cool.)
- There’s no talking about how good Kong is. Probably half of what bothers me about the mediocre parts of this movie is how terrible they seem in comparison to the greatness of Kong. He looks real. He acts real. He’s not too mushy or cutesy or human or nothin`. Part of how great he is is how well Naomi Watts plays off of him, but that doesn’t keep me from wanting to make out with ANdy Serkis right now. RIGHT NOW.
- The natives don’t sacrifice one of their own first. Obviously this is something they do, as their monkey-sacrificing technology is totally bleeding edge. It left me wondering if they were, like, due for a sacrifice, or if they just saw Naomi Watts and thought, dude, let’s give him Jet Girl! But it didn’t leave me wondering what happened to the last chick they sacrificed, and plague me with awkward questions like whether Kong prefers this`n because she’s white and stuff, so that’s a worthy trade.
Hey, remember when that kangaroo sang “Cop Killer”? That was hardass
- Jack Black gets a chance to pull out a sword and start swinging, though I really wanted to see him blow up some nasties with the nitrate film. And then I wonder what kind of camera he’s hand-cranking — can you really hand crank after the advent of sound? Do you just crank it to wind it? Is it self-regulated? I haven’t done the research.
- I only bring it up because there was so much for a film geek to love in this movie — the bond between director and DP, the sound mixer toiling in obscurity, the artistically stunted writer. Give me noisy extras and a producer having a panic attack and we’ve got a third-year set. Rimshot!!1one!
- Colin Hanks was good and subtle and it was genius to have Jack Black followed around by someone sedate and normal. Maybe if he keeps up his likeable everyman skills he can leverage them into a career as successful and diverse as, erm, trying to think of a comparison… Of course, I`m acting like this is his first movie with Jack Black or something.
I would have made Elizabethtown watchable
- I swear a coupla Skull Island natives looked like they were about to get the giggles during the sacrifice sequence. This reminds me of the laughing Germans in the first battle of Gladiator. It’s right after both sides collide, I think right before the flaming arrows come through. Dunno if they fixed it for the DVD — please review and report.
- Naomi Watts had some l33t running skills. She ran like she could actually be a runner. This is in contrast to Julia Roberts` spasmodic Conspiracy Theory running skills. Julia Roberts does not run like she could actually be a runner. But double points to both for not having an “Ow, my ankle!”
But don’t you miss my Wedgie Method acting?
- I`m eating crunchy peanut butter right now. It’s good as hell.
A-a-and spiggity spiggity spent.