You know, I thought Peter Jackson was a wee bit off to want to do a remake of King Kong. Sure, I thought, you could spruce it up a bit with CGI, but after the Lord of the Rings trilogy, wouldn't doing a remake be a real comedown?
Shows you how much I know.
You know the story, and you will recognize all the original elements, but this film is a totally new and original retelling of the tale. Even as you are whisked along from the streets of 1933 New York to the eerie Skull Island home of Kong, and back to New York for the inevitably tragic scaling of the Empire State building, the freshness of the story and the stunning achievement in effects never leave you time to make comparisons to either the original picture or any of the lame remakes.
This Kong is just delightful. But be prepared - -you will cry at the end, even though you know it's coming.
It was a dark and stormy day. I dragged my feet, moaned about my aching joints, made a lunch designed to stuff Bernie into a senseless stupor -- all because I knew he really wanted to go see Peter Jackson's King Kong.
When I was a kid, I loved the movie Mighty Joe Young, but that was the extent of my patience with giant ape movies. It seemed to me that the 1933 version of King Kong had admirably suited the needs of people to see a gorilla the size of a two-story four-bedroom house wagging around a skinny blonde from atop the Empire State Building. I'd seen the movie in lumps and chunks, knew the basic story, and never cared to see it again. Any story in which the central animal figure has to be killed because it has been taken out of its native habitat depresses me. When a "remake" of King Kong came out in 1976, I had no interest in seeing it, nor did we have a babysitter for our lovely daughter born that year. That saved us a few dollars, as the remake allegedly stunk.
I thought that someone had remade King Kong just a few years ago, but I guess I was wrong; I can't find any mention of it. Maybe it was Godzilla I'm thinking of. And in this utterly overdone Let's Remake Everything Age, I truly thought that Peter Jackson was out of his mind when he announced, after his Lord of the Rings triumph, that his next project was going to be a remake of King Kong. So today, after being unable to come up with any compelling reason to refuse to go to the movies (I tried to catch a cold, I walked around in dress shoes so that my feet hurt, and even took a long time washing pots and pans) I gave in and went to see Peter Jackson's King Kong, knowing in my heart that I would be checking my watch every ten minutes to see how much longer I had to endure the shame Peter Jackson was going to incur by me seeing his film, along with the many other viewers who would probably throw popcorn and say bad things out loud.
However, I had heard that he'd done a good job of representing a Great Depression New York City. I was willing to go see a nicely done -- "museum piece."
Five minutes after the leisurely introduction of the characters and the setting of the main stage (the beautiful, sad girl, the maniacal film-maker, the unlikely hero-writer casting off on a cargo ship for an uncharted island) my hands were sweating and I was trying not to fall out of my seat with vertigo. Skull Island, where Kong lives, is a very precipitous place, and he lives at the top of it for a reason: there are a lot of really nasty creatures who live near the bottom of it. Kong's world is not the land That Time Forgot, it's the world of We Don't Want To Have To Encounter This Stuff. But encounter it our heroes and heroine do. Eek! AAck! Oh, ick!!!
But then there's Kong and Ann.
Had she known the ending of the story, as we all do, she would have thrown rocks at her rescuers and stayed with Kong on his strange island. She could have dined on dinosaur (tastes just like chicken) and never have had to worry about mashers or job hunting ever again. She and Kong shared a sense of humor, they were both loyal and brave, they wanted only the best for each other.
Naomi Watts did a great job as Ann Darrow, and Andy Serkis provided a phenomenal framework for the CGI of Kong. Adrien Brody was the sexiest I've ever seen him; Jack Black was the perfect jerk.
I went expecting to be annoyed and disappointed. I left the theater haunted by Ann and Kong's expressions, and felt like I'd been swept away into another world.
More than that, I'm not going to say. Except that you probably really need to go see this movie, to see how Kong really was.