Friday, 2 June 2017

King Kong (5 Stars)


After watching "Kong: Skull Island" in March I decided to re-watch Peter Jackson's epic version of the film, but I've only just got around to it. So many films, so little time. While the new version does have a lot in its favour -- after all, I gave it four stars -- it just doesn't have the greatness and grandeur of the 2005 version.

Peter Jackson has made different types of films, from "Lord of the Rings" to "Braindead" and "Heavenly Creatures", but they all have one thing in common: his fastidious attention to detail. Let's forget the big monkey for a moment. The first 20 minutes of the film that take part in New York are a glorious depiction of the Great Depression. It's a nice touch showing a run-down zoo with the even more run-down huts of poor people in the background. The subject of the two jungles is a recurring theme in the film. Both jungles are difficult places to live, each with their own dangers.


The animals are living in squalid conditions, but their circumstances are better than those of the people in the huts.


The homeless and unemployed have to queue up for food. Today the food queues in Birmingham (England) are even longer.


The casting choices made for the film are nothing short of inspired. If I had been casting the film the last actor I would have chosen to play the film director Carl Denham. After all, he's a comedian, isn't he? That's why I'm not in the film business. Peter Jackson himself picked Jack Black for the role, supposedly because of his physical similarity to Orson Welles.


Naomi Watts is also perfect as the former vaudeville performer attempting to be an actress. Her open-mouthed toothy gaze of wonderment wins over the audience. It's strange that when Kristen Stewart imitates the same gaze she just looks silly. I can't explain why the same look works for one actress but not for another. Maybe it's because of Naomi Watts' natural beauty, which very few other actresses have.


"King Kong" received high critical acclaim when it was released. I have the impression, based on conversations with friends and passing remarks in magazines, that it's no longer rated as highly. I know films come in and out of fashion -- just look at "Titanic" -- but I don't understand how anyone could dislike "King Kong". I've included it in my list of  30 films to watch before you die, and I challenge anyone to prove me wrong.

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