Posted December 14 2005 - 02:09 AM
Three hour midnight movies always kill me. But lately, they have been worth the misery, and for that I am extremely grateful.
KONG is a bit of a tough review (aren't they all), especially after one midnight showing and not much sleep. I might as well start with the nits, and I have a few. The films uses a huge chunk of time from the excellent opening credits to the thrilling arrival at Skull Island. Some of it is critical, much of it is interesting, but not all of it is necessary. I'm sure they could have found 10 minutes to squeeze out (and save for the EE, which WILL come, Universal bean counters be damned). In another scalpel move, I would have noticeably shortened the Brontosaurus sequence on the Island. It had the weakest effects and some of the most implausible, lucky events for the characters (physically). And there is plenty of action to come. One more minor concern when I speak of PJ.
And I'm done with nits. The film is a little too *full*. The good news is at the halfway point, all of the excess have been shown...no more bloat. A film can get away with some excess, but not near the finale. As a note, I would not cut one minute of Naomi Watts from the film.
Speaking of Naomi Watts, she's as luminous an actress as I've ever seen. I was in love with her from her first appearance, and I stayed that way through the credits. In between long periods of running and screaming, there is a brilliant performance there...almost all with her eyes. No other actors are nearly her equal, but each shine here or there. Jack Black was top notch, as I expected. Colin Hanks and Jamie Bell were also much better than their limited screen time would lead you to expect. They exude likeability. A shame Jamie disappears after Skull Island. Adrien is a fine actor without a lot to do, but he makes the most of his screen time. It's a tough position to be in, playing second male lead to KONG
but he does it.
Technically, the film is a marvel to behold. It is as big screen as big screen gets. This is the first theatrical MUST SEE since Titanic in 1997. And I am aware that the LOTR trilogy, the SW PT, the Matrix Trilogy, the superhero renaissance, and Pixar have all displayed brilliant reasons to hit the big screen. Those films are enhanced by the big screen. KONG
is a step beyond that. If you love films (and you do, you are at the HTF), see this on the big screen. You may not like it (more on that later), but you won't regret it.
I usually do director last, but I'll do PJ next to last. I loved PJ's direction of the LOTR trilogy (and Heavenly Creatures and The Frighteners). I knew he was skilled, and LOTR showed him to be uniquely talented. But that was Tolkien. He had A+ material to work with, and one of the best casts ever assembled. But KK is a work of such extraordinary heart that PJ instantly joins the small fraternity of directors who have become legends. My last nit: PJ sometimes needs a little more restraint in the scenes he loves (not the dramatic ones, his eye there is flawless - but the action scenes). Once or twice, he upped the ante a bit TOO MUCH. As strongbad said (paraphrased):
| Too much of a good thing is awesome, but too much of an awesome thing can be stupid. |
PJ doesn't give too much. The cup doesn't overflow, but it leaks from the top sometimes. And some will think that it does overflow
I don't, but it skirts the line more than once. That is part of the charm...I know. From the intimate to the epic, his camera is sure, he wears his heart on his sleeve, and it's clear he loves movies and love his audience. KK is a love letter to film fans. Whether or not the film earns a BP nod is frankly secondary to PJ getting a BD nod. I can launch superlatives all day long, but the same zealousness that lead to any excess also led to sheer brilliance. I'll take the excess to keep the magic any day of the week.
I didn't do PJ last, because that is for KONG
himself. Simply put, I've never been more emotionally attached to a character in a film before. I have loved and believed in a lot of film characters. That is the magic of cinema. Indiana Jones, Luke Skywalker, Gandalf the Grey, Andy Dufresne, Sully and Mike, and countless other small and large characters are a part of my consciousness. Thanks to Naomi Watts, Andy Serkis, the editing, the design, the small touches, and the flawless effects, I identified with and loved Kong almost immediately. It's easy to identify with his loneliness and his hard life. But the direction, acting, and decisions made it a primal connection for me. Beyond even that. The love story between Ann and KONG
is beautifully told, and it makes perfect sense. It defies any typical connection, free from everything that makes our own relationships hard: sex, ambition, regret, jealousy, anger, miscommunication. Ann loves him because she doesn't have to practice anything with him. She doesn't have to be guarded. And he loves her back for the same reason. The closest I can come to is the unconditional love of a parent for a child, but translated to equals. It's hard to explain, but easy to see. And because she truly sees KONG
, the audience does as well. It's hard to not love someone once you've truly, TRULY seen them, flaws and all. Spoiler for KK the story...not this particular film:
I sobbed when he was captured, and that was nothing compared to his last moments with Ann. I found myself thinking I would never have taken the role of a pilot in this film, because I simply couldn't do it. At three in the morning, a grown 31 year old watching an epic fantasy, and all I can do is pray that KONG lives, and wish death upon those that would harm them.
Not wanting to be an ACTOR in the biplane...that's emotional investment.
That is based on my recollection this morning. This review grew far too long, but was a bit cathartic. I may seem foolish for such an attachment...so be it. I know some will identify with my feelings. I could care less about the Visual Effects Oscar. Kong himself should receive a special achievement award, for all of the artists involved, for Andy, for PJ, even for Naomi. Even over PJ getting a BD nom. The effects were merely the window to the character. A means, not an end.
What an end it was,