Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Peter Jackson's King Kong

It took me a while but I finally committed to sitting down and watching Peter Jackson's 2005 remake of the classic monster film King Kong. It wasn't that I was purposely avoiding the flick, it just happened to hit theaters during a lull in my film-going. After finally seeing it, though, I can honestly say that it's too bad I missed the chance to catch this epic while it was on the big screen.

King Kong is a legend. That goes without saying. The icon that is this majestic, gigantic gorilla caught the public's attention way back in 1933 and entered my life during my early childhood (the late 80s, early 90s). It was the 1970s remake where I first met him, though, while I was sitting in front of the television along with my family one holiday afternoon. It was another in an unofficial tradition of monsters movies during the holidays. Back then we watched everything from the Creature of the Black Lagoon to Godzilla while a turkey roasted or gift wrapping crinkled.

Kong, unlike the other movie creatures, went straight for my heart. He was an innocent animal doing what instinct demanded. It wasn't his fault that he was massive or that human beings were (and still are) flawed, selfish creatures. He lived his life free amongst the other wonders of his jungle island home. Men, as they are wont to do, trespassed in his domain and denied him the simple things he, an animal, wanted.

Peter Jackson's version of the story is especially fantastic for creating a Kong with the most pure and bestial of wants and desires. We see a creature (brought to life through the skilful motion-captured performance of Andy Serkis) that is just that. From his stance to his physicality to his behavior, Jackson's Kong is a pure animal. The performance and rendering of Kong is so magical and so convincing that my wife and I were brought to tears as we watched the poor beast's life get torn apart by greedy, destructive men. This component of the film above all others made me a fan of this version.

Other wonderful things exist within the movie which are obviously the products of the brilliant imagination of Jackson, the contributions of his fellow writers, the astounding Weta Workshop, and the dedicated acting of the cast. The film feels like the original Kong if modern film-making technology was made available to the old-time producers. It has action, excitement, adventure, mystery, and so much heart. I was constantly reminded of pulp adventure tales for their period feel and all-out wonder, Indiana Jones because of the rough and tough fellows who journeyed across the wilds of Skull Island, Lovecraft because of the nature of the mysterious, fog-shrouded Skull Island and the base and savage people who worshipped an unnatural, bestial god, and everything I felt about that big old gorilla way back when but only more so. I can't imagine a better remake of a classic than this film.

Out of five I'm giving it four. Check it out, especially if you're like me and are behind on the good stuff.

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