Saturday, 14 September 2013

Film Review: King Kong

It seems like an age ago, but on one of our earliest IVF appointment days we finished up at the hospital a little earlier than we'd anticipated and so took a trip to HMV and took advantage of the Blu-ray offer that they had on. One of those films was King Kong, the 2005 Peter Jackson version.

It's a retelling of the 1933 film version, taking advantage of the massive leaps in technology since then. Jack Black's filmmaker, Carl Denham, books Ann Darrow to play the female lead in his latest film. Along with screenwriter, Jack Driscoll, and actor, Bruce Baxter, the crew of the SS Venture head for Skull Island which turns out to be the last place in the world you'd want to visit.

Not only are Skull Island's natives not particularly welcoming, but the island also turns out to be home to some giant creepy bugs, dinosaurs and the titular King Kong; a gorilla of epic proportions. Rather than escape and head back to New York as quickly as possible, Denham decides that the best course of action is to capture the beast and take him back with him; luckily Kong has become quite enamoured with Ann so this shouldn't be too tricky. Providing they can all stay alive long enough to get back to the boat!

Now I'll say straight off that as far as I'm aware I've never actually seen the original 1933 film. Well, I think I've seen bits of it. I have a vague recollection of being in my childhood living room while a black and white film played on TV with a stop motion ape in it, that may or may not have been King Kong. Suffice to say that if I have seen the original I don't recall enough of it to comment on any similarities between the old and the new.

As for the 2005 version, I saw that in the cinema when it first came out. We were supposed to be seeing Status Quo but the gig got cancelled but we still had the hotel room booked, so we went to a cinema in Glasgow (which has now closed down) and spent the night in the a fancy hotel afterwards. My main recollection of the trip was my dad spilling his diet coke all over the counter when he went to pay for it, and his popcorn all over the cinema floor when we got our seats. Good times.

I remember being a bit unsure about Jack Black being in this when I first saw it, but he really suits the part well. He has this sort of crazy, reckless quality. The cast works well together and I've got to watch some of the special features because I'm sure it must not have been easy acting against a giant ape who may or may not have been in any given scene they were filming.

The ape in question being this guy:

Oops, sorry, wrong picture:

See the similarities? That's because they're one and the same; Andy Serkis plays King Kong in much the same fashion as he played Gollum, giving him a double role in the film. It's really clever because after a while you forget that you're watching a CGI character and just assume that they managed to rustle up a giant ape from somewhere (one who seems to be easily entertained by vaudeville acts).

It's a very long film, clocking in at just over three hours long, making it a slightly less than sensible choice to watch right after a long day with a trip to the mainland. The Blu-ray has the extended edition which included an extra twenty minutes of footage compared with what I'd seen in the past; I couldn't honestly tell you which bits were new bits because it's been so long since I last saw this film.

King Kong is one of those films I'll watch again when I've got plenty of time to enjoy it (and nowhere in particular to be the next day) and I feel in the mood for an action film. It's pure Peter Jackson and you get the impression that he made it because he could. It's just very long so plan bathroom breaks for the slow bits!


  1. Funny you should review this as I think the original is on BBC4 tomorrow night.

    Like you I am always apprehensive about Jack Black; I've never found him in the least bit funny. Andy Serkis on the other hand is an absolute star.

    On the whole though I'm not a huge fan of this. I love the recreation of Broadway in the 30s, that opening hour is brilliant but for me - and I'm aware I'm probably odd in saying this - once the actions moves to Skull Island, I lose interest!

    1. I'll have to look out for that on iPlayer. :-)

      I think it is a bit of a film of two halves, well, three in a way (before Skull Island, during Skull Island and after Skull Island) and the bit during Skull Island is one big action scene after another which doesn't totally grab your attention. Once you've seen Kong smashing trees out the way and people running away from dinosaurs once, you're kind of ready to move on, not watch another ten minutes of the same thing! ;-)

      The attention to detail in the New York recreation is fantastic though.

  2. You're so right. I think my problem is I hate CGI action/fight scenes etc, it's not real and therefore doesn't hold my attention.


Let me know what you think. :-)