I almost hated King Kong.
That’s a pretty poor way to start a review, but most movie reviews (especially by people who don’t get paid for it) are lists of complaints, even if they say they liked it.
The dialogue was laughable, the script predictable. The acting was nothing shining or special. The plotting was slow, and I wondered why I should care about these people. The boat ride took a lo-ong time. The natives were stereotyped (of course, they are cannibalistic savages), and the idea of a human sacrifice is so old hat the dramatic tension is gone.
And then Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) started to dance for a giant gorilla. Honestly, that’s when it all began to turn around for me. From the moment of the bonding of Ann and Kong (sort of played by Andy Serkis), I started to enjoy the ride. The diaglogue didn’t really improve much, but the visuals and pacing overwhelmed that objection, and I started to care for the two main characters, who are really the only ones who matter to the story.
The score (which, of course, I try to watch) was decent, particularly given the small amount of time which Howard had to devote to it. The visual effects were perfectly done. The sets were fabulous. And the scene at the end was mostly as spectacular as it ought to be (Ann’s logic for climbing up an absurdly tall building in heels was lost on me).
You’ll hear Kong spoken of as a visual feast, and it is. You’ll hear Kong spoken of as moving, and it is. And you’ll hear Kong spoken of as the best picture of the year, Oscar worthy, and it’s not. It’s a rollicking good time at the movies (after the first hour), but it’s not a truly great film.
The only two Golden Globes it has been nominated for were Best Director and Best Score, and it won’t win either. If it gets nominated for more than 2-3 Oscars, I’ll be surprised.
During the movie, my brother described Kong as Jurassic Park IV. That describes it pretty well, except that it is better than II and III. It’s as good as the first Jurassic Park film.
I also want to address Haven’s concern. He brings up the fact that in a monster movie, the monster is not supposed to be sympathized with. If I am understanding him correctly, this is because a monster movie is symbolically a Christus Victor movie. Monsters are symbols of evil, and shouldn’t be sympathized with.
I think Haven is right. Movie monsters should be that way, which is why some of the later Alien movies falter. Monsters are there to be squished, killed, and to have their arms pulled off and hung up in the mead hall. We have no business caring for Kong, or wanting him to be okay. The serpent has seduced the woman, and the woman fights for him.
That said, I think there’s another level of symbolism operating at the same time, which is part of the reason that it makes such a good story. King Kong is also a “beauty and the beast” story. I think that part of the story sticks out well enough that it doesn’t really need to be explained. But that *is* a story worth telling. The difficulty is it overlaps with the “monsters are bad” storyline. The fact that the two stories overlap, and that tales can be told that simultaneously contain both stories, is another example of the rich potential of storytelling. The question is, which one is being emphasized. In Kong, it’s the “beauty and the beast” storyline.
Perhaps there’s more to it, and I’m dense. In fact, I’m sure that’s true.
If that’s not the main objection, Haven, I’ll try to address the others.