Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Monkey Business

I was on MSNBC this morning catching up on today's news when I caught their article on the Top 10 Films of 2005. I was quite pleased that Brokeback Mountain made the list - I went to see it last Tuesday night. The theatre was pretty full, which surprised me - it was a Tuesday night at 7:45pm. Anyway, the movie was beautiful, though heartbreaking.

Thursday night Adam and I went to see King Kong, which also made MSNBC's Top-10. After Lord of the Rings, I was convinced of Peter Jackson's brilliance, so I had high hopes for the Kong. I should have heeded Ethan's advice, however. While Kong wasn't bad, I have to admit that I was disappointed. I expected a lot more out of Jackson... I think that maybe he needed some time off.

There were a few things that really jumped out at me during this movie -- first, it seemed like this film was a composite of several films I had seen before: it was an amalgamation of Titanic, Moulin Rouge, Temple of Doom, Jurassic Park, Lord of the Rings, and Beauty and the Beast. For example, the scenes with the tribe on Skull Island were very evocative of Temple of Doom. Certainly, any scene involving humans and dinosaurs will remind you Jurassic Park and every time I saw Naomi Watts (who I loved in I Heart Huckabees) I thought, "What, you couldn't get Nicole Kidman?" When Kong picks up Ann Darrow, I could hear in my head, "Little Orcs, boom-a-room!" At the end, I was waiting for Kong to magically transform into Adrien Brody so the Beauty and the Beast love story would be complete. The whole movie is filled with these moments, like a badly sewn quilt with pieces that just don't fit together.

After Lord of the Rings I also expected the effects to be top notch and seamless. Once again, I was quite disappointed. You knew Kong was a big budget film, but over and over again it seemed like they stopped short on the effects - many scenes felt unfinished. The CGI wasn't bad, but it was very obvious. The beauty of Lord of the Rings was that the whole world felt real, like someone found this magical place and brought a camera to capture it. In sharp contrast, Kong came off feeling like none of it was real. Quite disappointing.

As Ethan mentioned, the movie is over 3 hours long, which is a problem. Honestly, Jackson could have cut an hour and you wouldn't have noticed. At the same time, Jackson left some plot lines undeveloped -- the whole Watts-Brody love angle needed a lot of work -- while starting other plot lines -- the whole Jimmy story comes to mind -- and then just dropping them. That's just bad directing and Jackson should know better.

Anyway, its not a bad movie, but disappointing overall, given what we know Jackson can do. If I had it to do over again, I'd wait to see this on DVD. Better yet, check out Monkey vs. Robot...


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