King Kong: Afterthougths

a movie by Peter Jackson

With his newly discovered star and coerced screenwriter reluctantly onboard, Denham (…) heads out of New York Harbor… and toward a destiny that none aboard could possibly foresee.

When I knew that Peter Jackson was working on a remake of King Kong, I remember to have doubted that it were a good idea. After the 1933 classic hit the theaters, several versions have been made with more or less fortune, and I wondered if it was too soon for a new one, if there was anything new to show, besides the awesome special effects that the remake would surely bring.

Now that I have seen the movie I wouldn’t say that I was wrong, though I think that it well deserves to be watched and will probably stand out as the most accomplished version to date, only second to the original. Its greatest value is the cast: all the main actors, and many of the supporting ones, have worked their characters as to make them credible, even memorable. Adrien Brody composes his Driscoll with elegance; Naomi Watts shines (literally, indeed), portraying an Ann Barrow as brave as fragile; Carl Denham (reminds me of Orson Welles), shows us the many facets of Jack Black, who would do anything to achieve glory and wealth, always conscious of the results of his actions, often pursued by guilt, never able to admit his defeat.

Then, of course, there’s Kong, which if not the greatest is surely the strongest character in the movie. I took for granted that most of the production efforts were going to focus on making it credible, but still I was often surprised by the expresiveness of the behemoth, full of nuances which contribute to the suspension of disbelief. Kong is felt as a live, sentient being, and the movie greatly benefits from it.

However, besides these virtues the movie comes with its flaws too. Other than Kong, there’s a plethora of visual effects, from the recreation of New York to the sumptuous jungle, and most of them are brilliant, though a few of them certainly are not as good. There’s a scene, where the natives are jumping from rock to rock, where the animation is terrible! The worst: at a given moment the main characters fall in a river, and we can see them trying to swim in the strong current. Then, all in a sudden they appear completely dry, running in a place which looks nowhere close to the river…

Some of my friends complained about the length of the movie (more than three hours); I didn’t feel it long, though. Actually I think that the action is well managed through each of its three movements. But I also think that, besides those moments that I just described above, the plot is full of holes, and it would sink if the cast wasn’t so good. In my opinion, the first part (until they leave for the island), a little bit of the second and a little of third (since their return to NY), are one movie, and the rest is another movie. The problem is that those two movies don’t blend together, and the plots interfere instead of intertwining. For instance, most of the characters which are introduced and start to develop in the second part are eliminated in the island, and those who survive, especially the captain and the kid who read Conrad, directly vanish after the return (by the way, where have the natives gone?). Back to New York, Driscoll cries out his bitter loneliness, making us suffer with him; a few minutes later, he’s again an action hero; two minutes more and he’s unconscious and left for dead. One more scene and he’s up and running again, just in time to comfort the girl…
Ann’s evolution is more controversial. The archetypes that Driscoll and Kong represent and the fact that Ann moves from one another may bring a debate about her motivations or subconscious needs; however, even though one can understand her feelings for Kong, it’s harder to swallow that she completely forgets Driscoll until the end of the movie.

About the sound -I liked both the sound effects and the score. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be able to say, from the music alone, if the movie was King Kong or Batman, but technically speaking the score is flawless and there are excerpts with very interesting and skillful orchestrations.

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