A soon-to-be-washed-up director hires an unknown blonde to star in his latest film, which he’s going to be shooting on a creepy island, known to few people. Once there, the man, his cast and crew quickly discover that a giant ape resides on the island (along with a bunch of other scary non-humans) and that the macho primate has a thing for blondes. Kong smash!!! A romantic action flick ensues.
I didn’t think that anything other than this film’s awesome special effects and action sequences were going to rule my appreciation of what Peter Jackson accomplished within, but color my big-ape-ass surprised as it was nothing less than its “love story” between the beast from Skull Island and the babe from New York that ultimately won me over big-time. That’s right, you heard me…the love story between the monkey and the blonde. Kudos definitely go out on that front to the awesome special effects that created King Kong in this film, as he didn’t simply kick ass while thumping and pumping and jumping around, but also, during its more tender moments, vis-à-vis the lovely Naomi Watts. In fact, his facial expressions were amazing to the point that you didn’t even realize that you were watching a computer-generated animal anymore…you just saw emotions coming through. Further kudos go out to the human being in the romantic equation, the always-very-lovely Naomi Watts, perfectly cast as the sweet, innocent Ann Darrow who slowly but surely begins to fall for the big lug also known as double-K. The duo had a number of “romantic scenes” in the film which worked entirely without any dialogue spoken between them (how many guys would love that in their own relationships?) including a gorgeous top-of-the-mountain sunset sequence, as well as a fun-looking ride across an icy pond in Central Park. Potent stuff.
Okay, now that I got all of that gooey “love stuff” out of the way, allow me to downshift into the film’s other successful parts, like its non-stop action, which started during the film’s second act and ended about the time that I was walking out of the theater and audibly exhaling. That said, I have to admit that the film’s first hour was a little slow at times, and could have been cut by several scenes, in my opinion, especially since this was the second remake of the same story, so there wasn’t really any great need to get into all of the minor background details. That said, once things got going on Skull Island, I was perched atop the edge of my seat, with nachos in my mouth and bemusement all around. The film’s special effects were also stunning overall, with remarkable believability granted upon the many amazing creatures and places showcased on the big screen. The one area that lacked a little in that regard were the “running scenes”, some of which looked obviously shot on a green screen, and didn’t fully gel with the beasts running around the humans. But that’s a minor quip as the rest of the film was truly accomplished, starting from the many authentic New York set-ups to the stunningly dark and eerie Skull Island to the many fights between the big monsters to the film’s energetic conclusion in the big City.
But that doesn’t mean that this was a perfect film by any means. I already mentioned a couple of bits that bothered me above, but allow me to add the inane banter between the black dude seemingly co-captaining the ship and deckhand “Jimmy”, which was seriously corny and should’ve been excised altogether. I also didn’t care for the casting of either Jack Black or Adrien Brody, both of whom I respect and really dig as actors, but both of whom didn’t really seem to fit into their roles here. They weren’t terrible or anything, but I just think their “look” didn’t fit their respective parts. I was also rolling my eyes during a handful of action sequences on the island, like when a bunch of humans were literally being stampeded over by some massive dinosaurs, but getting away scot-free. After a while though, I learned to simply “go with it” and not nitpick that sort of shit in this film. It’s a friggin’ over-the-top blast of a spectacle movie, after all. This ain’t RAIN MAN, folks…it’s a huge monkey kickin’ ass and if you’re looking for that sort of entertainment value, you really can’t go wrong with this movie. Add to that, the brooding score, the authentic design, the awesome directing and the film’s surprisingly potent love story (yeah, I admit it…I teared up over a monkey, man!), and you’ve got yourself an ideal popcorn flick with an engaging story and tons of action all around. Oh, and I loved those freaky critters that were eating up all over Gollum in this movie…give those suckers their own movie! They were creepy, man.
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian