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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

King Kong

Note: The ID case should not be looked upon with too much disdain, since various surveys suggest that over forty percent of the population of this country in some fashion (I'd like to see an analysis of the results) accept creationism. Clearly, only a portion do so strongly, or demand it be taught in science class. Nonetheless, many more would not mind.

A local reviewer marveled at the remake of King Kong, but toward the end of his review noted that the two main male stars (human) really did not work -- one anachronistic (Jack Black), the other (Adrien Brody from The Pianist) just didn't fit the character. Okay ... when key roles (Brody is in effect the male lead, again human male lead) do not work, a four star review might be a bit of a problem. And, sorry, it is not appropriate. A split rating might be: Fay Wray (Naomi Watts) and King Kong (special effects generally) ****, the rest (other dialogue, story, acting, etc.) **.

Seriously, when things are off Watts, Kong, and some prime special effects (1930s Depression Era NYC, Skull Island -- including a great gigantic bug scene not for the squeamish, etc.), the movie is just lame. Things start off great ... the re-creation of the era of the original movie, introduction of Jack Black as a not so credible down on his luck producer (he has a decent number of almost hits on his record), and the launch of the crew to Skull Island ring true, charming hit movie true. There is even some clear foreshadowing philosophical bits that ring a bit fake, but are all in good fun in a mega-blockbuster sort of way.

And, then things go downhill. Not horribly so, do not get me wrong, since there is always Watts (guarantee nomination, maybe win) and SFX/action to fall back on. Still, the annoying young shiphand and his older/wiser mentor ... Brody totally lame (and a romance that just happens, as if required) ... a particularly unpleasant scene with the natives ... Jack Black's character suddenly not being believable any more (he has the last line of the film, which sounds soooo fake ... we need to see his character as surrendering to his reckless ambition; Black doesn't carry off the pathos for it) ... a pretty lackluster final reel (btw how do they get him back? just dragging him to the ship must have been hard!). In fact, the war planes popping up in I guess less than an hour or so is striking given recent events.

There is a lot of movie magic here. My problem is that even adventure films need a bit of help from the actors. For instance, Jurassic Park did not have GREAT performances or anything, but they also did not hurt the action either. I was able to take some of the film's thin narrative tissue up to a point, it added to the old adventure reel feel, but only up to a point. The movie can be compared -- somewhat poorly -- to the 1930s film Tarzan and His Mate. After all, King Kong fights off beasts and has a relationship with his "mate" that reminds one of that film. The SFX was pretty good for that era too ... and the natives if anything less stereotypical. And, other than the leads, the acting was nothing to shout about ... but it was better and not as bothersome.

I recommend this with a warning of its flaws.