I Blogged Myself

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

King Kong Klanger

Wifey and I went and saw this film last night. It's a very big budget movie featuring a very big budget chimp. Apparently Marlon Brando was originally signed on before his death to play Kong. After hearing of the actor's death, Director Peter Jackson was quoted as saying that he was still happy to make the film with Brando in the titular role, because "no one will be able to tell the difference anyway". Some scenes indeed used Brando's corpse as a stunt double for Kong, and the switch was barely perceptible.

CAUTION: POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD (but I'll try to be funny about them)

It could be argued - quite convincingly - that this wasn't my favourite movie of the year (and this is the first one I've seen). Allow me to break down the problems I had with the film:

- It was too freakin' long
- The CGI effects were terrible
- Characters just disappeared without being given a proper 'ending'
- The best bits weren't shown
- Suspected hints of bestiality

To clarify the above points, I'll elaborate on my concerns below.

It was too freakin' long

Clocking in at 187 minutes, this is a movie to which you don't want to take a mega-sized soft drink. Unless you plan to re-fill the drink bottle after you've emptied it (this doesn't really work, though - sure, it's dark in there, but the smell is kinda overpowering, and if you forget about it and take a sip later ...), you should definitely only take in a small drink. And make sure you've emptied your bladder beforehand.

It was probably around 45 minutes into the film, when Ann Darrow and Jack Driscoll were starting to get all nervous and lovey-dovey in the bowels of the boat out at sea, that I lent over to Wifey and whispered, "I think there's supposed to be some kind of monkey in this movie."

She lent back over and said, "I think they were just talking about you coming to see it."

If that's not witty enough, try this one: She lent back over and said, "He prefers to be called by his name: Jack Black."

Whichever one you find more amusing. Anyway, Jackson decided to spend almost an hour of my life building up a bunch of human characters before we even landed on the mysterious island we'd heard so much about in the movie trailer, so I figured it was going to be one hell of a pay-off with these people. I settled back to wait (and asked Wifey to wake me when the chimp got on the scene).

If that's not bad enough, throw in a couple of (exciting, I grant you) fight and flight scenes, and way too many lengthy looks of love between a woman and her giant pet ape, and you've got a frickin' long movie that could have been told in half the time.

The CGI effects were terrible

I'm sorry, but I couldn't believe it when we walked out of the film, and the guy behind us immediately got on his phone and rang someone, saying "I just came out of seeing King Kong. Oh, man - the special effects were amazing! ..."

Wifey had to restrain me, because I very literally started turning around to ask him angrily if he was watching the same movie I was. The special effects were amazing?? Was this guy on drugs?

It turns out that yes, he was. But it was still no excuse.

Now, don't get me wrong. Kong himself was great. His face and body and everything else were very life-like and impressive. I'm not arguing with that. But anytime Kong was in the same shot as a human, particularly if he was carrying them, it all fell down. (And imagine the whiplash Darrow would have received if he was really shaking her like that in the early scenes of him holding her - about 75 minutes into the film! She'd be suing him in an instant, today.)

I'm not saying I could do a better job myself, but for the hundreds of millions they spent on the film, and the hundreds of millions they're making from it, I expected more (in this day and age, etc).

Plus, Jackson's Lord of the Rings battles never looked this fake. I mean, when Darrow and Driscoll were on the Empire State Building, the boat, watching the sunset from Kong's mountain ledge, running with dinosaurs (hey, what a cool title!), and so on, the blue-screen (well, green actually, but anyway) effects were plainly visible!

I wasn't impressed at all. The dinosaur stampede in particular was all wrong. The speed of the running was out, the outlines around the humans took from the realism, the quality of the footage of the humans versus the dinosaurs was mismatched, and the men looked paper-thin (especially when darting back and forth between the dinosaurs' legs). It was quite botched for a 2006 CGI gig. That's what let the movie down the most, for my money. It was like a bad 1984 science fiction film.

Let's not forget the dinosaurs themselves. Like Kong, they looked great when they didn't share the frame with any humans. But Jurassic Park did it thirteen years ago and was impressive for its time. We've come a long way since 1993, but this movie presented no evidence of it.

Characters just disappeared without being given a proper 'ending'

So what was the point of Manny, the old theatre guy who gave Ann Darrow the pep-talk in the beginning that "it's always been a let-down, but not this time!"?? Did his whole character exist purely to make this deep philosophical statement? I think this could have been established in a much better fashion than that. What was the point of him? Was he meant to re-appear at the end of the film in a scene that was later deleted, or something? He just seemed entirely pointless to me. Was he a special guest cameo that I just don't get? Maybe he was in the original 1933 version or something, and his very inclusion was 'necessary' to Jackson (a massive fan of the original film) for sentimentality reasons - in which case it was a poor decision not to cut him altogether. The actor who played Manny doesn't appear anywhere in the IMDb.com listing for the film, so that's probably meant to mean something.

I wouldn't have had such a problem with Manny if he'd turned up again at the end and done something. Even if it was just to be killed by Kong or to tell Ann Darrow that she'd finally 'made it' (because she can't work these things out herself anyway - and besides, she hadn't made it yet!) or something. Anything!

But he wasn't the only character to just disappear. What about Bruce Baxter, the cheesy actor who originally left the group on the island only to re-appear with the Captain and crew to save the (few surviving) men from the ravine filled with giant insects? At the end, in the theatre, he simply slips away again. He doesn't get killed or reappear later so we can see he's survived. In fact, his early fleeing not only shows that he's actually a coward after all (but we already knew this anyway - we weren't fooled by his return at the ravine); it also teaches us that the cowardly way is the smarter way. (True, it does indicate that he was more aware of what was actually going on with Kong than anyone else was at that point, but why not say anything to warn everyone else? He deserved to be crushed or chomped in half. I would have liked to see that - although I really like the actor ... does anyone else remember him from TV's Early Edition?)

And Preston? The last we saw him, he was talking with Driscoll on the mezzanine and indicating that he was now disullisioned with Jack Black's character, Carl Denham*. So what? I'm not interested in that. Does he do anything heroic or get squashed by the giant ape? That's what I paid my money to see. He runs off with the crowd and we don't see him again. Very unsatisfying.

* Black was actually very good in the film, especially considering he had very few comic lines and was basically playing the kind of role I'd never seen him do before ... which is to say: "Acting."

And how about the surviving members of the crew? The Captain and little Jimmy?** Why don't we see them at the theatre, dressed up in their new tuxedos, living the wealthy life now that they bought into the capture and kidnapping of Kong from his native land in exchange for the money? I'm not satisfied with the lack of resolutions for all these characters. At least the ones who died had an ending. The rest just disappeared.

** While we're on the subject of Jimmy, I can appreciate the supposed-humour of the kid who's never fired a gun before picking up a semi-automatic whatever (I'm not big on guns) in the panic of the moment and firing at a guy covered in ten giant crickets not five feet away, shooting 40 or 50 rounds in total, the gun and his arms flailing everywhere while the guy with the bugs and the bugs themselves move around like crazy, and the bugs all get shot off without the guy being hit even once. I get it. It's humour. But at that point in the film? When his mentor father-figure was just killed and the cook is being painfully devoured by giant teeth-wielding penises to their immediate left? It's poorly misplaced humour, I'm sorry.

If it comes to that (and it does), what about the island natives? Where the hell did they all run off to after Darrow was taken by Kong? They all conveniently disappeared as well. Served their purpose, had they, Mr Jackson?

After all the time Sir Peter made me invest in these characters, I expected way more than I got.

The best bits weren't shown

Okay, if you've read this far and you haven't seen the movie yet, you're a bit of a dill (or you don't care about the film). Either way, I hope you don't mind the next few things I'm going to say.

The really gruesome moments weren't shown!! I took note of this - it was definitely a deliberate, intentional decision not to include the following bits, all of which are creatures, people and/or machines landing:

- The dinosaurs and men who fall off the cliff during the stampede;
- The T-Rexes when they fall down the precipice during their fight with Kong;
- The men hitting the ground in the ravine after Kong shakes them off the log;
- The fake Ann Darrow actress in the theatre landing when Kong flings her aside;
- The three or four blonde women out in the street landing who Kong grabs and then flings aside;
- The plane crashing that Kong first knocks down;
- The two planes crashing that Kong causes to collide; and (of course)
- Kong himself landing in the street.

These are the bits I would have loved to see! Wifey wondered if this was because it would be too hard to do it or if it would make the movie too gruesome, but the answer to both of these concerns is: "Pah!"

It's not too hard to do it if they can show dinosuars and giant chimps running around making a nuisance of themselves. And as for gruesome, what about that insect ravine sequence? Or the islanders' faces? It wouldn't have been too much to show the fake Ann Darrow actress landing upside down in a twisted mess of limbs on top of three chairs and an old lady and watching her snap in half. In fact, it would have been hilarious!

Suspected hints of bestiality

I'm not going to go into this too much, but the whole premise of Darrow caring for this massive beast who (lonely and heroic though he may have been) was still clearly a gigantic threat (no pun intended) on mankind - especially now that he had somehow been brought back to New York on that tiny ship. At which point she was present. To object, If she'd wanted to.

So why did she get so cuddly with him looking at the sunset (and the sunrise) with the creature. He's cute if he's happy and looking after ONE SOLITARY PERSON, you stupid little woman, but to him, everyone else on the planet is fair game to be cut down. He's clearly a menace and no, we won't stop from shooting at him. Get out of the way, you moron. I've got a gun and you're wearing white against a morning skyline. I can't see you. I'm going to shoot. This oversized simian is going down.

Poor Driscoll. He may have got the girl in the end, but by then she was in love with an ape.

-----

If anyone hasn't seen the movie, please feel free to stick your head in a bucket of slop and gargle. It'll leave a better taste in your mouth.

3 out of 10 stars.

20 Comments:

At Thursday, January 12, 2006 6:12:00 pm, Blogger sublime-ation said...

How was first day back?

 
At Thursday, January 12, 2006 8:45:00 pm, Blogger fluffy said...

i can't believe your first complaint was that it was too long. BEVIS! This POST was a two hour epic!

 
At Thursday, January 12, 2006 9:20:00 pm, Blogger BEVIS said...

I am an enigma.

 
At Thursday, January 12, 2006 9:54:00 pm, Blogger MelbourneGirl said...

bevis. i will return to read this properly anon, but you freaked me out with the suspected bestiality.

please tell me kong didn't impale naomi with his big banana???

please!

 
At Thursday, January 12, 2006 10:17:00 pm, Blogger MelbourneGirl said...

ok i've read it in full. do you think jackson did the effects badly on purpose as a tribute to the first film?

far-fetched, i know.

oh well.

 
At Thursday, January 12, 2006 10:19:00 pm, Blogger BEVIS said...

Ewww!

No. He. Didn't.

(Hey, that's the first time I've tried that. End realisation.)

My Neighbours recap is about to be added to my "I'm Not Ready" post in a sec. I'm just 'proofing' it now.

 
At Thursday, January 12, 2006 10:20:00 pm, Blogger Clokeeeey! said...

A guy in a furry suit. Surely you could have given it a 5?

 
At Thursday, January 12, 2006 10:39:00 pm, Blogger BEVIS said...

Alright, you're all commenting too quickly for me to keep up. My previous message was a reply to MG about the banana remark.

Clokeeeey, well done. I can't fault you there. :)

And as for MG's idea about the effects, I actually thought of that myself during the film - fleetingly - but they're not that kind of 'bad'. They're just bad for a modern film, not bad-on-purpose to resemble a 1933 flick.

Have you seen it? If not, but you one day do, I think you'll see what I mean.

 
At Thursday, January 12, 2006 11:19:00 pm, Blogger Ang said...

ohhh, I agree with you on all your points...but I still loved it! It was cheesy and obvious (the spelled out 'Heart of Darkness' "reference" drove me nuts) but it was all that epic cheese is supposed to be. I laughed out loud as they sat on the cliff and watched the sun set "beauuuuutiful" God, it was worse than my attempts to teach these kids english; but I still walked out of the theatre blochy faced and red eyed...
I might add that it was Goldclass so it made the length a heck of a lot more bearable!

 
At Friday, January 13, 2006 12:56:00 am, Blogger meghansdiscontent said...

I'm so confused.
Do I see this or not???
Ang and TFS (on his own site) say YES.
You say NO.

Torn.
Because I trust in you, Bevis.

 
At Friday, January 13, 2006 6:47:00 am, Anonymous John B. said...

Gee, what's next on Peter Jackson's agenda, Godzilla VS Mothra!?

 
At Friday, January 13, 2006 8:49:00 am, Anonymous sbr said...

I almost could have bought this - hey, all these big spfx epics can be pulled apart, and I agree the stampede did look shonky - if you hadn't extravagantrly praised the okay-but-distinctly-mediocre Narnia a few weeks ago. My views on both:

http://tinyurl.com/93d5l
http://tinyurl.com/b4srd

I can't believe you picked apart Kong's effects but didn't have a problem with Aslan, who looked like he came from on Optus ad.

(And I'm going to go to the post office with the Muppet Movie soundtrack today).

 
At Friday, January 13, 2006 9:00:00 am, Blogger gun street girl said...

Thanks bevis, your review has strengthened my resolve not to see this movie.
I consider it to be a public service.
If only someone had shown me such a review befor I wasted time and money (and disgust) seeing Species: II; easily the worst film I've ever seen, and I've seen some very bad ones.

 
At Friday, January 13, 2006 9:07:00 am, Blogger BEVIS said...

Gun Street Girl, no problem - I'm glad I could help.

SBR, hehehe ... well, we all have our blind spots, eh? I'm not going to defend myself there. (I'm surprised it took this long for someone to bring that up, actually.)

John B, I think he's tackling Barbie Meets The Care Bears first.

And Meghan, you do what you want. I'm really only having fun here anyway (although I am very touched by the degree of faith you're placing in my opinion!).

Ang said she agrees with me but was still moved to tears (although she possibly meant that she was upset to have parted with ten bucks and to have lost three hours of her life watching that shtock, who knows). So I guess it's back to personal preference ... as it always was anyway.

:)

 
At Friday, January 13, 2006 11:19:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surely the worst CGI bit was when Anne juggled rocks. Clearly Naomi has never had to resort to dodgy street theatre to make a crust.

 
At Friday, January 13, 2006 12:21:00 pm, Blogger Susanne said...

This was a very funny post, right from the get go with the Brando stuff. I liked it.

 
At Friday, January 13, 2006 5:31:00 pm, Blogger Enny said...

I hated it too.

Normally I don't pick up on special effects, but even I noticed he kept changing size!

 
At Saturday, January 14, 2006 3:13:00 pm, Blogger Chai said...

I agree with fluffy's comment. Did u have to do the review in real time? Anyways, have sent u an invite regd the food review blog. Do something about it! http://letmeeatnow.blogspot.com

 
At Saturday, January 14, 2006 10:02:00 pm, Blogger Steph said...

Thank you for saving me money and hours of my life i wouldn't get back without making deals with the devil. My stupid friends said " oh it's brilliant, you'll crrryyyy". GAh! To cry over an massive gorilla? You gotta be kidding me.

 
At Saturday, January 14, 2006 11:37:00 pm, Blogger BEVIS said...

Steph, it's time to get some new friends.

Chai, if Mr Jackson hadn't done so much wrong with the film, my list of complaints (and the level to which I was angered about them) would have been much shorter. Don't shoot the messenger. I'm simply reporting back on all the atrocities with the film. (And anyway; pfft! It's my blog and I like to talk!) :) Thanks for the invite; I'll access my Hotmail from work on Monday (for some reason I can't load the page on my home computer).

Enny, so I see. I like your thoughts on it as well. Don't let TJ's opinion weigh you down. Jackson could have done a lot better and still been true to (and respectful of) the original film.

Susanne, thanks! You sure know how to fluff a guy's ego.

Anonymous, another good point. I noticed that too. What a farce. Stupid Naomi!

 

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