I am going to apologize in advance for the length of today’s review. The reason for that is because today’s movie was directed by Peter Jackson. Now Peter Jackson didn’t always make overly long movies but since the turn of the century, almost every one of his movies have been in excess of 150 minutes. For those of you with weak bladders, this can make seeing his movies in the theaters pretty uncomfortable. Anyways, after directing The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson decided that he would take a shot at a remake of Hollywood’s legendary giant gorilla. So let’s get started with today’s movie, King Kong (2005).
The plot: In 1933, New York is in the midst of the Great Depression and Ann Darrow, a vaudeville actress, has just lost her job when the theater she performs at is closed. Meanwhile, Carl Denham is showing footage that he has shot for a movie to the studio execs but when he finds out that they are not going to back the film, he takes the footage and plans to make the movie anyways. When he finds out his leading lady has backed out of the picture, Carl heads out to find a girl when he spots Ann and offers her the job, which she accepts when she learns that her favorite playwright, Jack Driscoll, is writing the script. Boarding the SS Venture, Jack convinces Captain Englehorn to set sail before the authorities arrive to arrest him, and also is able to stall Jack so that he is unable to leave the ship. As the voyage continues, Jack and Ann begin to have feelings for each other, while Captain Englehorn is beginning to have doubts about their heading and considers turning back. When Englehorn receives a message that there is a warrant out for Denham’s arrest, he is ordered to change course for Rangoon, but the ship finds themselves lost in a mysterious fog and end up running aground. on some rocks off of Skull Island. While Englehorn and his crew work on repairing the ship, Denham and his film crew, along with Jack and Ann, use one of the lifeboats to head onto the island so Denham can begin filming his movie. They come across a seemingly abandoned village at the base of a massive wall, but they soon find themselves attacked by the villagers, who kill two of Denham’s film crew before Englehorn and his men arrive and save the others. That night, as Englehorn’s men work on freeing the ship from the rocks, a native manages to sneak on board and kidnap Ann. Driscoll discovers a native necklace on the ship and when he finds Ann missing, tells Englehorn and they begin preparing to go rescue her. On the island, the natives tie Ann between two pillars and lower her out to the other side of the wall. As Ann looks on, she sees the trees moving as something large is heading her way and when it gets there, she screams as she comes face to face with a giant gorilla. Jack and the sailors arrive and hear Ann’s scream come from behind the wall but when Jack looks, she is already gone, though Denham is shaken by what he saw. Englehorn gives Jack and 15 others to find Ann and return before he sets sail. During a rest break, Denham sees a group of brontosaurus and starts to film them but when a pack of Venatosaurus (raptor-like dinosaurs) approach the herd, the brontosaurs panic and begin to stampede, straight towards the rescue party, with four men dying before the rest get to safety. Meanwhile, Ann manages to use her vaudeville act to entertain Kong but when she refuses to do anymore, Kong gets angry and, after raging around her, he heads off into the jungle. As the search party is using a fallen tree to cross a ravine, Kong suddenly attacks them and, after flinging the first mate at a cliff wall, Kong then grabs the tree and drops it into the ravine. Ann is running towards the sound of gunfire but when a small dinosaur tries to attack her, she hides in a log while the dinosaur is attacked by a Vastatosaurus Rex (similar to a T-Rex). When some centipedes begin crawling on her, Ann runs from her log and then winds up being chased by the Vastatosaurus, with a second one soon giving chase as well. Kong shows up to rescue Ann and as he stares at the two carnivores, a third Vastatosaurs attacks Kong. Kong manages to beat the three dinosaurs and as he is starting to leave, Ann, realizing that she would be safer with him, follows after Kong until he picks her up and places her on his shoulder. Back at the bottom of the ravine, the surviving members of the rescue party find themselves attacked by giant insects, with only Jack, Denham, and Jimmy remaining, until they are rescued by Englehorn and the rest of the crew. Jack climbs out of the ravine and continues after Kong, while Jack convinces Englehorn to try and capture Kong when Jack brings Ann back. Jack finds Kong’s lair and manages to rescue Ann while Kong is fighting some bat-like creatures but when Kong begins pulling up the vine they are climbing down on, Jack grabs the wing of one of the creatures and is able to use it glide safely down to the river below. Making it back to the wall, the go through the gate but when she sees what Jack and Englehorn are planning, she tries to stop them. Englehorn uses chloroform to try and put Kong to sleep but when Kong sees Jack dragging Ann away, he becomes enraged and is able to shake off the effects until Denham smashes a bottle directly in his face. Back in New York, news of Kong have made Denham famous and he plans to showcase Kong to massive audience. Meanwhile, Jack is watching a performance of the play he wrote for Ann when during a scene, he realizes how much it mirrored his feelings and leaves the play so he can find Ann. Back at the theater, Denham introduces Kong to the audience, which is followed by a somewhat gaudy stage act involving “native” dancers. When Denham brings out Ann, it turns out to be a different girl, which enrages Kong and as the reporters begin taking pictures, the flash bulbs further enrage him and he breaks free from his bonds and, after throwing the girl aside, he heads into the audience. As Jack tries to help the audience escape, Kong recognizes him and begins chasing him. When Kong makes it outside, he sees several blonde women and chases down each one thinking it is Ann but when he attacks a streetcar, Jack manages to get his attention and have Kong chase after him so he can try and lure him away from other people. Kong eventually catches up to Jack but before he can kill him, Kong stops and, sniffing the air, turns to see Ann, who had followed the commotion, approaching him. Picking Ann up, Kong begins walking down the streets of New York, eventually making his way to Central Park, where he spends some time having fun sliding along the frozen lake, when the military suddenly begins to attack him. Racing along the rooftops, Kong makes his way towards the Empire State Building and begins climbing it to get away from the military’s weapons. When Kong reaches the top, a squadron of biplanes start circling the building, so Kong sets Ann down and then climbs up to the antenna to fight the planes, managing to destroy one of them. Ann attempts to climb up to where Kong is but some of the bullets damage the ladder and she ends up falling until Kong saves her and places her inside the tower. Kong manages to destroy two more planes but, as Ann climbs to the top and tries to get the planes to stop, Kong is fatally shot by the planes and, after reaching out to Ann one last time, he falls from the building to the street below. As Ann looks down from the top of the building, Jack climbs up to her and the two embrace while down below, Denham stares at Kong’s body, saying, “it wasn’t the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast.”
King Kong (2005) was met with mostly positive reviews, holding an 84% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The consensus was that the “state-of-the-art special effects, terrific performances, and a majestic sense of spectacle, Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong is a potent epic that’s faithful to the spirit of the 1933 original.” The main criticism seemed to be focused on the movie’s length, though some critics also cited pacing issues within the film. The movie was nominated for 4 Acadamy Awards, winning three of them; Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, and Sound Editing. There were several allusions to the earlier Kong movies, as well as an allusion to an earlier Peter Jackson film, Braindead (aka Dead Alive). The movie was a box office success, earning over $550 million off of a $207 million budget.
There are a lot of things I liked about this movie and some that I didn’t like. To start with, I did think the acting was really good. Adrien Brody and Naomi Watts worked well together and did show great chemistry with their character’s romance. Jack Black was also good as Carl Denham and, in my opinion, played the character almost as well as Rober Armstrong did back in the original. The story was good, although there were some changes I did not care for. I was glad that the brought the dinosaurs back as I felt the ’76 remake really lacked without them. I am glad that Peter Jackson included the insect scene at the bottom of the ravine, as that was a scene that was cut from the original movie. However, I thought the ice sliding scene in Central Park was absolutely pointless. And while I can watch giant monster movies all day without a problem, even I thought this movie was pretty long. In fact, it is almost 90 minutes longer than the original movie, and that was 100 minutes long. The special effects were definitely top notch and the scenes on Skull Island, particularly the sacrifice of Ann to Kong, the various scenes with the dinosaurs and Kong, plus the insect scene, just showcased how incredible they were. A fantastic movie to watch, just make sure you use the restroom before you start it.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5