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Movies Review

King Kong

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King Kong
Released on Monday, Dec 19 2005

Director: Peter Jackson
Starring: Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Thomas Kretschmann
Running time: 187 mins
Certificate: 12A

Carl Denham (Black) is an out-of-luck filmmaker looking for something spectacular. Following an old map promising an island which has yet to be discovered by civilised man and fleeing police he sets off on an expedition certain to bring him fame and fortune. Accompanied by desperate actress Ann Darrow (Watts), screenwriter Jack Driscoll (Brody) and captain Englehorn (Kretschmann), Denham finally arrives on Skull Island, where he finds more of an adventure than he had bargained for. When Kong, a giant gorilla worshipped as a god by the locals, absconds with Anne, the party must battle all manner of prehistoric beasts to retrieve her.

Peter Jackson’s main motivation for making this movie was his adoration of the Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack original, and his respect for it shows. However, whilst sticking to the same general structure as the original, Jackson’s reworking makes a number of tweaks to the storyline and focus. One difference is the way in which Jackson excels in building up such an emotional relationship between Ann and Kong, bringing the tragic love story element to the fore, whilst the chemistry between the actress and Driscoll is far more underplayed.

The characterisation of the party has also made something of a departure from that in 1933's version. Naomi Watts delivers an exceptional performance as Ann, a far more interesting character under Jackson’s direction – Fay Wray was given little else to do but be terrified. Jack Black also does well to make money-minded director Denham suitably contemptible, whilst Brody does the job as Driscoll, though his character is given less to do in the remake. Meanwhile, Kong himself is a masterpiece of CGI, and aside from the frequent impressive action, his facial expressions (captured from Andy Serkis’ face) are absolutely superb and make it impossible not to empathise with him completely.

King Kong is a visual treat, although whilst the clashes between the visitors, locals, Kong and the island’s beasts are excellent, it’s the more tender moments that stand out. The touching scenes in which beauty and beast survey sunset landscapes or try to understand each other are certainly the most memorable.

One potential minor grumble is the film’s length. Jackson has turned the original’s 100 minute running time to a weighty 187 - it takes him around an hour to get to Skull Island, and even longer before we catch our first glimpse of the eponymous primate. However, since the lengthening is a result of expanding on the story and character development it isn’t unreasonable – although the drawn-out action sequences could be seen as too much of a good thing.

A worthy holiday blockbuster, King Kong boasts suspense, action and a captivating tragic love story which is sure to please all.

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