Saturday, December 17, 2005

Which Kong is King

Peter Jackson's King Kong is a worthy successor to the original King Kong.

The original King Kong is considered a classic. It inspired generations of film makers and paved the way for a new genre of movie which spawned countless imitations in film and other entertainment media. Consider all of the King Kong riffs that you've seen in tv, comics, novels, etc. Yeah, the original King Kong is the gold standard.

Peter Jackson's King Kong is going to be dismissed by some pureists who won't consider anything but the original King Kong to be the best. For many film buffs,the original King Kong is THE movie that made them love film.

The original King Kong touched them in a way that no other film ever did before and when they watch it they recapture that feeling. They're taken back to a time and a place that was special. No matter how good Peter Jackson's King Kong is, it won't be able to rekindle those feelings and will therefore fall short. Heck, I'd feel the same way about any Rocky movie that wasn't made by Sly Stallone.

Ok, so how good is Peter Jackson's take on the big ape?

That I can answer. It's absolutely great. Easily one of my two favorite movies of the year.

First of all, my hat is off to Peter Jackson. King Kong has been the film that he's wanted to tackle since before he became a filmmaker. Everything that he'd done before Kong was just to prepare him for Kong.

Everything about the movie is near perfect. Loved the cast. The special effects were flawless. The music and editing were as well. The screenplay, while based on the original King Kong screenplay, kicked up the action and took me to a place that was familiar but much, much more dangerous. All aspects of the production combined to create a movie-going experience that was truly an experience.

Before I go on, let me say that if you haven't seen the movie, you may want to stop reading since I'm going to discuss aspects that contain SPOILERS...

... Still here... ok then...

Some folks have complained that the first hour is too slow. I went in thinking that this might be the case, but for me, it wasn't. I enjoyed the character development.

I loved the look of the island. The natives were realistic and frightening. Come to think of it, even the island looked frightening! And you've gotta love the way the native got onto the ship!

And then the appearance of Kong. Man, he looks so real. And I'm not just talking about his physical appearance. He moves like a giant ape should [note I said should, not does]. His fur gets matted and stuff gets in it.

I think it's cool that Kong's scarred and older looking. He's a warrior on an island that demands you fight to survive. His battle with not one, but three tyranesarous rex [at the same time] was nothing short of amazing. All the while he's fighting them, he's protecting Ann... even as he throws punches, climbs, dodges and falls. He's not called "King" Kong without reason.

But there's more to King Kong than just the baddest mo on the island. Kong is the last of his kind and his loneliness is apparent. I also love it that Kong is intelligent. He has a sense of humor and enjoys the beauty of a sunrise. If you haven't seen the movie, then my last sentence probably has you scratching your head. If you've seen the movie then you know it will break your heart before the movie's end.

I love the search for Ann in New York... the frantic, wild search for just the right women and then how everything slows down and nothing else in the world matters once you find her. The escape with Ann is exciting and then the interlude on the ice. Beautiful. Unexpected and so sweet. It was at this point that I could feel the tears forming. Because the interlude wouldn't last.

Kong's climb up the Empire State building still had one more surprise. If you saw the movie, you know what I mean. Kong places Ann in a place of safety and sits next to her. He looks out at the horizon and sees a sunrise and "tells" Ann it's beautiful. Now the tears were flowing...

... because here came the planes. And you know the rest.

So is Peter Jackson's King Kong better than the original King Kong?

Who's to say? Comparing the original King Kong to Peter Jackson's King Kong is like comparing an athlete from 1933 to one from today. Odds are that today's athlete is bigger and faster but does that make him better? Does it really matter?

I guess that's why sports leagues create their own Halls of Fame. Different athletes from different time periods can be honored and there is room for all who deserve a spot.

Peter Jackson's King Kong deserves a spot next to the original King Kong. Let others then argue which Kong is King.

As for me, I'll spend my time watching them both!

The Original "King Kong" rates an A+. Peter Jackson's King Kong rates an A+.

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