King Kong Christmas


the herald angel

Like most people I go through periods where I am at odds with my consumeristic nature. For many of us these feelings of guilt or other emotions creep up on us around Christmas. However, this post has nothing to do with any feelings of guilt. I really can't apologize for the fact that I am looking forward to opening any presents that I might receive. I am also looking forward to people opening their gifts that I have painstakingly wrapped over the past few weeks. My entire family (immediate of course) is assembling for the holidays and I am going to attempt to record this momentous occasion through a series of photographs both candid and posed. It will be a challenge, because photographing family members can be a special challenge, as your subjects are more apt to play the fool and not really try to follow any directions you might give them. If I can achieve good photographic results with this rowdy group I will be happy.

In other news, don't read the rest of this post if you don't want to know what happens in King Kong... Even if you do read it you won't really know what happened anyhow because I'm typing stream of consciousness and my sentences are long, action packed and drawn out just like Jackson's film.

Yesterday I saw King Kong at the local cinema. It was a beautiful film cinematographically speaking, but like Peter Jackson's other films (Return of the King anyone) the film was a wee bit bloated. Clocking in at 187 minutes, the film was much too long to see in a theatre setting especially when you're sitting next to a leg shaker. At times I felt like I was in one of those 1950s theatres where the seats were wired to give patrons electric jolts. The boy next to me seemed to be on a timer. His leg would start to shake every ten minutes which would agitate my chair and send shudders up my spine and rattle my brain. I knew it wasn't his fault but I wanted to put a firm hand on his knee and make the shaking stop. I really wonder what causes that leg shaking... in such confined quarters it can be quite annoying.

But regarding the film... it was well worth it to see in the theatre as the special effects were absolutely stunning. Jackson has definite vision, but I don't always appreciate his directorial style. He has the tendency to make things far to obvious, be it the slowed action blur coupled with haunting music, or the prolonged homoerotic glances, or even providing meaningless backstory about minor characters that never goes anywhere. In KK this was most prominent with Billy Elliot (and by Billy Elliot I really mean Jimmy played by Jamie Bell of Billy Elliot fame) who Jackson went through the labours of telling us was once a wildboy and through the first half of the movie had this kind of minor storyline where you wondered when he was going to go wild again or how he was going redeem himself in the eyes of his most beloved first-mate. However, this storyline never went anywhere. The first-mate dies a heroic death, Billy cries like a Samwise Gamgee and then he more or less disappears. Speaking of good lo' Rudy (that's Samwise for those not familiar with the Sean Astin body of work), I was reminded of how in LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring the same kind of ridiculousness was achieved with Bill the Donkey who had a tearful death scene but no significant introduction.

What else can I say about King Kong? Although it is quite a visual treat and I was wholly impressed by Jackson's attention to detail, it lacks the subtlety that would make it a truly remarkable film. I wonder what Jackson cut from the film, if anything. The action sequences would go on forever and after awhile I stopped caring what would happen to the damn dinosaurs since I knew that the movie had to end in New York and I highly doubted that the dinosaurs were really going to prevent the main characters from returning. I also could have done without the scene with the giant bugs... not because it wasn't essential to the plot (it wasn't) or that it wasn't well done (it was and it truly disturbed me), I just don't understand how Billy Elliot managed to use a machine gun to shoot the bugs off of Adrien Brody without killing him in the process. Remember that Billy was a wild boy and there was a scene where the First Mate Father Figure chastised Billy for wanting to play the hero without knowing what he was getting into (Billy was young and did not know how to use a gun). The giant tapeworms were also absolutely disgusting, but I think they were introduced so that Gollum, by which of course I mean Lumpy (played by Andy Searches of Gollum/Smeagoll fame... who also did the voice of Kong, something which I don't understand unless this guy can do a really good Gorilla impression which might be the case I'll have to wait for the special features on the DVD to find out) could have a tragic death. It only made sense because his most beloved Choy had been killed in the fall from the tree bridge that Kong had overturned and Lumpy had nothing to live for anymore. And we all know that there is no better exit from a film than being sucked alive by a swarm of giant tape worms.

Don't let me forget to critique the love story. I didn't mind Naomi Watts or Adrien Brody (now I want to see The Pianist and I wonder if Naomi Watts has the same voice coach as Nicole Kidman because their American accents are so similar) but it was a little weak that they fell in love with one glance. But I can overlook that, they both played their characters well. On the other side of the love story I have to say that I was hoping that we would be able to avoid the classic Titanic spinning scenes between a giant gorilla and his love interest, but no... Jackson surprised us again with his ingenuity and managed to create a spinning scene, complete with ice, snow and the romantic lights of Central Park. Luckily, before I was forced to choke on my own vomit the army came and broke it up. I had never been so happy to see army presence as I was at that moment when the impromptu stars on ice performance was brought to a screeching halt due to machine gun fire.

Is there more I could critique? I'm sure that there is. But don't get me wrong, the film was worth seeing at the theatre. Big blockbuster types usually are. The opening sequence was gorgeous and I loved the combination of scenes from depression era New York... the soup kitchen lines, bootleg liquor being smashed, skyscraper construction, and vaudeville performances. That opening scene alone was worth the price of admission. I'm going to have to see the original King Kong now. It would be an interesting comparison... Who knows, I might have less problems with Jackson's version after seeing the original.