King Kong

Directed by Peter Jackson, released (UK) 15 December 2005
Starring: Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody

For those of you in the know about films, the original 1933 version of King Kong was touted back then as a cinematic classic, and it's not difficult to see why. The effects of Kong himself back then were pretty ground breaking - even if you feel it may have dated now, imagine how the cinema-going public saw it? Despite being all black and white, it seemed to have a good story and a great end, as beauty ends up killing the beast, and it's timed to perfection throughout.

When I heard that this was going to be another film remade for a modern audience, I was a bit sceptical. Then I saw that the excellent Jack Black was going to play Carl Denham and my hopes were raised. And Peter Jackson, whom by all accounts (though I'm not a fan) did a good job of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and it was all set in place for an exception to the rule, that the new version would eclipse the old one, that it'd be a cinematic classic.

And was it? No. I'm sorry to say this, but this is possibly the worst film I've seen for some time. I could go on griping about this film for as long as it lasted, and that's the first and possibly largest fault of the film: it's too long. In some plots of films you feel like they're overdoing the story, with "and.. and... and.. and..." most of the time. Well this is definitely the case here. It feels too slow, and everything is over done for the sake of more CGI and more effects, such as the scene where Kong fights off dinasours. Note the plural, in the original it was just one, well here it's three, and it goes on and on and on way too long. As does the climax atop the Empire State Building as well. It just feels like the scenes were put in to pad the film out to a very tiring three hours and six minutes.

Another fault is apparent during that tiring dinasour scene. Surely the way Kong is fighting, that Ann Darrow would have been either shaken or crushed to death as she swung around in his hand at speed? Of course, it might have added to the peril, but at the same time it's quite clear that there's a bit too much fantasy here in that Darrow would have survived all that. Somehow, I'm not so sure. Like when Kong and Darrow fall through some vines and just so happen to be caught by them? Come on! That would have been death for most people too. So a minus point there too.

Another too long scene is the Empire State Building scene where (as you'll probably know) Kong eventually meets his death. Now, in the original it was a few shots and down he went. Here it seemed to go on forever again and that Kong took many shots before he finally fell. All this time just meant another twenty minutes plus added as and when unnecessary. By this time, most people in the cinema were thinking "get this over with!" and I had to agree with them.

There's also a couple of interesting plot holes - don't know if they were intentional or not, but why for example is the relationship between two of the ship's crew, Jimmy (excellently underplayed by Jamie Bell) and Mr. Hayes. If it was worth spending the time putting them in as some form of subplot, at least put an end to it. Sure, Mr. Hayes was killed, but Jimmy supposedly survived. What did he do? Why is there no closure? On the other hand you could also ask why that plot was in there altogether as it even added to the length of the film.

There's also, I feel, a heavy reliance on CGI for effects being used just for effects sake, and because that they had the budget to do it. Far too often there's too much CGI over-used, such as the stampede with the Brontosauruses, which made the thing much unrealistic in that most of the cast would have been killed at that point. No matter how it looks, scenes like that and the vine fall mentioned above belong in computer games, not in film. Over-relying on this sort of footage rankles with me especially, and here it was just a case of video game CGI to the maximum. It certainly didn't add to the suspense factor for me one iota.

Those were the main faults, but there were various others I could have added, mainly due to the effects and also to try and drag out the film's length to almost twice that of the 1933 original. In short: it didn't work! And it's a real shame because there isn't actually anything wrong with the acting. Jack Black is superb and just the right side of manipulative and evil as Carl Denham, and he really gives a larger than life performance to the character. Naomi Watts is also good as Darrow, and Adrien Brody's Jack Driscoll is of slight lilting Irish wit, but it works very well and adds to the chemistry between Driscoll and Darrow as characters in the film.

I fear too many people will go and see this film because they're fans of Lord of the Rings and Peter Jackson, and as such worship the ground he walks on and that anything he makes will be ultimately good. Well to such people: time to wake up and smell the coffee, and fast! This is a stinker, despite the good acting almost saving it. Give me the 1933 original any day.

Warren's rating: 32%