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Film Review: King Kong is a triumph

King Kong

9 out of 10
King Kong (2005)

This movie is proof that director Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings trilogy) is no one trick pony. This newest – and possibly best – version of King Kong had even the most jaded movie goers squirming in their seats and jumping at startling moments.

Somehow this film pulls off being a lyrical fantasy, an action adventure, a horror film, a comedy, a tragedy, a road movie, a biting commentary on exploitation of the innocent by the powerful, a buddy film and a love story all rolled up in one. It really is that good.

Some critics have complained about this new Kong Kong‘s length; usually saying something akin to how at three hours, it could use a good trimming. I’m not so sure.

In Peter Jackson’s hands, we get a movie that starts out on a slow burn – like the first big hill of a rollercoaster. The extra-long buildup is worth the payoff of the second half of the film.

Jackson gives us time to become involved in the lives of the characters of this film. We get to know them – and suffer and laugh with them. We feel for them.

This version of King Kong is a movie with a soul.

The Breakdown:

ACTOR HIGHLIGHTS: For a good portion of this film, there is no dialogue. Lead actress Naomi Watts (The Ring, Tank Girl) plays “Ann Darrow,” the beauty. But in this 2005 version, she is not played as much a damsel in distress as a survivor and fighter. Watts has that gift some great actors have of being able to communicate through her eyes, emotions and intent pouring out of her. Her meaning and intent crystal clear without the need to actually utter a word.

Can a computer-generated “cartoon” act? After I saw this film, I’d have to say yes. King Kong himself pulled off the most surprisingly good performance. He was “played” by Andy Serkis (“Gollum” from Lord of the Rings) who also pulls off the dual role of playing the ship’s cook. As Kong, Serkis acted out all of the gorilla movements, which computers captured and converted into a computer-animated 25-foot-tall silverback gorilla.

SPECIAL EFFECTS: The scenes of Depression-era New York city are flawless. The scenes on Skull Island are pulled off with near-photo realism. Kong himself looks alive.

WRITING: The original story by Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace was expertly adapted and fleshed out by writers Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson. For true fans of Kong, they included nods to the original movie and cast peppered throughout the film.

But by far the best touches were the back story on Ann Darrow and the growth of the friendship between her and Kong.

This is by far the best fantasy genre film of 2005.

Overall: 9 out of 10
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Sex: None.
Violence: Fantasy violence. Graphic depictions of death.
Special Effects: Excellent
Other: One of the best films of the year.

Naomi Watts … Ann Darrow
Andy Serkis … King Kong
Andy Serkis … Lumpy the Cook
Jack Black … Carl Denham
Adrien Brody … Jack Driscoll
Kyle Chandler … Bruce Baxter
Colin Hanks … Preston
Jamie Bell … Jimmy
Thomas Kretschmann … Captain Englehorn

David Speakman

David Speakman has spent more than two decades as a writer/editor, photographer, graphic designer and manager of creative teams in broadcast, print and the Internet. His education is in journalism, graphic design, organizational communication and law.
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