Movie Plot – King Kong: A greedy film producer gathers a team of filmmakers and heads to the infamous Skull Island, where they discover more than you would ever imagine.
Director: Peter Jackson
Writers: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
Cast: Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Andy Serkis, Kyle Chandler, Colin Hanks, Evan Parke, Jamie Bell
A long film
Jackson’s monster movie with its epic three-hour length seems destined to overwhelm viewers and do good business at the box office. I do remember it being a success at the time and I had rewatched King Kong a few times back then.
Of course, there are always criticisms and even I have them. Mostly it’s about the longer beginning of the film. The opening in New York and the boat trip towards Skull Island take up sun thirds of the film’s length. Jackson takes his time to set up an atmospheric time frame and introduce the various characters to us, but nowhere does this feel like padding. That some viewers want to see Kong as soon as possible is understandable, but ultimately it is better for the viewer’s engagement to go through the entire journey together with the characters.
Kong, we don’t see until about an hour later, but the beast is well worth the wait.
This incarnation of the giant gorilla succeeds wonderfully in captivating the viewer. His fur, movements, and facial expressions are sensationally animated, and it also clearly paid off that Andy Serkis, who modeled for the beast. He even went to Africa to study the behavior of real silverback gorillas.
This allows the relationship between Ann and Kong to really come to life. We get the sense that Ann is able to achieve a childlike joy in Kong that he has not been able to express for a long time when Kong responds to Ann’s attempts to entertain him with a kind of joy dance and laughter expression. Ann keeps Kong interested in her by doing some juggling and cartwheels, and Kong is clearly in his element because of this. And we get why Ann falls for Kong. His kind brown eyes gazing dreamily into the distance, his appealing play and macho behavior, and his willingness to put his own life on the line to save Ann make her love for him understandable.
The only criticism regarding Kong is that in this version of the story, although he looks like a gentle giant, he actually kills a lot of people. Of course, all in an understandable context but there were also many innocent people. But yeah, what are you going to do? It’s a monster movie, after all.
Carl Denham, a film director, hires Ann to star in his new film without letting her know they are going to an uncharted island. It gets funny when Jack asks for her measurements and Ann is quick to snap out of it, not realizing that Denham only wants to know if she will fit into a dress already made. She didn’t say yes right away because of the doubts she had about her conversation with Carl. When she heard that Jack Driscoll, whom she admires very much, is also going along, she came to an agreement to come to his ship for the film.
Aboard the ship, we meet many crew members like timid cabin boy Jimmy (Jamie Bell). He develops a bond with the first shipmate, but unfortunately, this relationship is developed a bit too prematurely and explicitly. The skeptical captain (Thomas Kretschmann) is nicely cast, who provides a good counterbalance to the obsessed, cunning Denham. There’s also a hilarious B-movie star on board, named Bruce Baxter, who has his cabin full of posters of his own films, with amusing titles like Tribal Brides in the Amazon.
The bond between the beauty and the beast makes Ann’s relationship with Driscoll pale in comparison. Jack has become a sensitive scriptwriter in this ‘Kong’ but the role actually manages to add little to the story. Jack and Ann seemingly fall in love at first sight but their longing glances alone are not enough to convince us of a far-reaching love. When Jack comes to rescue Ann, we don’t really get the idea that she wants to be rescued at all. She seems to like it there; apart from the loose dinos and other horrible monsters who see her as a tasty snack.
Kong, as it turns out, is not the only giant carnivore that keeps house on the cozy Skull Island. Jackson treats the viewer to a veritable orgy of monster confrontations. If what Denham says on the ship is true, namely that monsters belong in B-movies.
From runaway brontosaurs, through a pit full of giant insects and creepy, worm-like beasts, to a fight between Kong and no less than three T-rexes, there is constantly something incredible or incredibly ridiculous happening on screen. The unhinged bronto scene is variably effective, which is mostly due to the occasionally mediocre “green screen” work. The beasts themselves look fine, and when they collide we get a good sense of their mass, but as soon as a human character comes into view with them, you can clearly see that these are composite picture elements.
The (triple) T-rex fight is (also) utterly absurd but my favorite moment of the movie. It’s a great feat of animation art and imagination in its own right: for example, part of the fight takes place while Kong and a T-rex are tangled in vines. However, it’s the ending of the fight that was awesome.
The third act of the film, in which Kong is taken to New York to be exhibited, is almost flawless, and ends beautifully at the top of the Empire State Building. Dramatically, the ending is very effective, and Ann’s grief over Kong’s (impending) fate also comes home to the viewer.
There’s a memorable line that Carl Denham delivers at the end of the film. However, it’s kind of a spoiler, so you’re warned! A reporter said that the airplanes got King Kong. However, Carl responded with: “It wasn’t the airplanes, it was beauty who killed the beast.” That line gave shivers to my spine.
Jackson’s “King Kong” is not perfect. It is mostly Kong and Ann who make the film interesting.