The original 1933 King Kong is a masterpiece and goes down in history as one cinema’s most enduring films, and helping to make not only New York but the Empire State Building synonymous with the big ape (just go to the observatory on the Empire State to see all the Kong merchandise!). The original film was a scant 90 minutes long yet it was jam-packed with a thrilling storyline, then state-of-the-art special effects and a great ending. When Peter Jackson decided to tackle a remake of this film, I’m sure it excited many a film fan, especially after his groundbreaking, spectacular work on “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Does the remake live up to the hype? Yes and no. It’s a stunning film in every department, but it’s too long. There was a reason that the original was only 90 minutes because that run time is what this story will sustain. Unfortunately, Jackson was too infected with the sweeping epic he established for the Lord of the Rings films and ended up dragging King Kong out way too long. That said however, it is still a masterful film if only a little bloated.
A big effort was made to make the characters in this story have a resonance and this comes to the fore in the first act of the film. Unfortunately, this is the weakest part of the film. We don’t get to Skull Island until at least an hour in to the film and although as an audience you have to be engaged with the characters, what we really came to see was Kong. To have to wait that long is a bit excruciating. However, once we get to Skull Island, the film shifts in to high gear with some spectacular dinosaur action sequences that Steven Spielberg would envy. A big sequence where Kong fights three T-Rexes is astonishing. I would have liked however to have seen a few different things. We don’t get the scene from the original film where Kong fights the terodactyls, or when he wrestles a massive snake. There is however a frightening bug pit sequence (which was cut from the 1933 original because people ran out of the theatre sick). Then it moves to the familiar finale in New York where Kong is put on display in front of audience, breaks free, makes his way to the top of the Empire State Building and ultimately is gunned down and falls to his death. The death scene is a little more tragic as a big emphasis has been placed on Ann’s (Naomi Watts) affection for the big ape which wasn’t in the original 1933 film.
The visual effects in this film are ground breaking. Kong is real. Watch it, believe it. Some of the landscapes and background creatures do seem a little CG-ish at times but for the most part, the work done by WETA in this film is nothing short of spectacular.
The acting in this film is first-rate, on par with the Rings films. The only exception to this is Jack Black who to me seems oddly miscast. He only really has one look on his face the entire film and it gets a bit tedious after a while. Probably not all his fault as he was probably directed to do that. Overall, he just doesn’t have the same penache as the character played in the original 1933 film.
This is an excellent film, but it does overstay it’s welcome by maybe 30-45 minutes. A bit of editing would have made it a classic masterpiece just like the original. That said, it’s still a fabulous film.
For the complete, original DVD review, click this link: http://www.allaboutmovies.net/dvdreviewkingkong2005.htm
Alex DeMattia is the lead DVD reviewer at the film/DVD review web site All About Movies.net. He also contributes reviews and articles for the Digicosm Film Blog: http://www.filmannex.com/Digicosm