Monkey Business

“Hey! Go back to Jurassic Park. This is my movie!”

One last review before the year runs out and I’m featuring the “eighth wonder of the world.” That’s right. Step right up. Step right up. Don’t be shy. Folks, you won’t believe your eyes, even if you’re blind. Behold – his royal hairness, the thrilla, the killa, the one big gorilla – King Kong! (Now, everybody gasp like you’re reacting to a green screen).

It’s a great time to be a movie-goer, isn’t it? It’s fun to be dazzled by special effects. With CGI so common on mainstream fares, I shouldn’t be that impressed. But “King Kong” is totally gawk-worthy. Filmmaker Peter Jackson has the audacity to envision impossible images and make it happen. The interaction between actors and special effects is brought to a new level. Naomi Watts, as Kong’s most treasured hand accessory, is convincingly held, shaken up, and tossed numerous times. In an elaborate scene, a group of men is believably caught in the middle of a dinosaur stampede. One can attempt to describe the movie in words, but why. Seeing is believing, folks. The set design also excels. I love its reconstruction of 1930s New York and the way it captures the city in the opening scene. I didn’t live during that decade, but I think I know my New York and that’s him on the screen.

As great as the visuals are in “King Kong,” the rest isn’t on the same standard. First, Jack Black is unsuitable as the go-for-broke director Denham. He’s sorta the villain, but the actor’s too lovable to dislike. The character needed a darker side, a more sinister presence. Separately, I like Watts, as the struggling entertainer (the beauty) and of course, that titular ape (the beast). Together, they make a very odd couple. Although their bond is visibly strong, I’m not going bananas. There’s something not convincing about the whole thing.

And speaking of bananas, the movie feels too long. Jackson is way too in love with the material. I don’t mind a long movie, as long as it doesn’t feel long. The lengthy LOTR films zipped by. During “King Kong,” I grew more restless. That’s no so good, see. I tend to use skepticism to keep myself awake. I started questioning if Ann Darrow is that much worth of a trouble. With all the things he does for her, King Kong might be the most whipped creature in all history! That’s what he gets for treating a lady like a doll. And how about those T-Rexes – why were they so intent on eating Miss Darrow, even if King Kong is wrestling the hell out of them? I’m sure she’s tasty, but was she it worth it? She’s just a small white meat. I doubt if she’s much of a filling. And for a girl that screams a lot and moved around a lot, Watts doesn’t appear that shaken up. Any convincing human would be constantly fainting, if not from fear, from Kong’s gargantuan breath, at least. But seriously, folks, this monstrous movie is still a wonder to see. This shit is bananas.

Grade: A-

Naomi Watts, Adrien Brody, Jack Black, Colin Hanks, Jamie Bell, Kyle Chandler, Lobo Chan, Thomas Kretschmann, Evan Park, John Sumner, Andy Serkis
Screenplay by
Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson
Based on a story by
Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace
Directed by
Peter Jackson
Rated PG-13 for violence and disturbing images