Action Peter Jackson has graduated with his latest blockbuster from small furry creatures (hobbits), to large ones (25 foot apes). Will the scale of the CG madness never end? Probably not, call it the 10,000 pound gorilla in the room, it’s so impressive in King Kong that this CG ape would eat orcs like oyster crackers and floss his teeth with fighting uruk hai.
Naomi Watts as Ann Darrow is excellent as a depression-era vaudeville actress desperate for a break. Filmmaker Carl Denham is played by Jack Black, who is apt and confident but mysteriously uncompelling as a shallow, publicity-mongering self-promoter. Writing Denham’s latest movie is Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody), the eventual (boring, unconvincing) love interest of Darrow, who plays second-fiddle to you-know-who. (Cocoa’s colosal cousin.)
Visually this film is sensuous. The city scenes are exciting, the jungles are terrifying, and the animals are simply amazing. The story line however is regrettably prolonged, at several junctures action scenes are strung out to monotonous length. Most notably the entire “central” portion of the film on Kong’s island is very long, action-packed, but with several twists and character kill-offs that simply weren’t necessary to further the plot. After all this, the inevitable return to civilization is unfairly limited to falling action.
Disappointing too is Jackson’s choice to portray the island natives as mud-dwelling savages, dirty, beastly, and bent only on killing and human sacrifice. I suppose cliché’s are always undaunted by time, but this is more shockingly distasteful than suspenseful.
The great ape is still greatly impressive despite the issues surrounding him, making Kong a great feature to watch—surely deserving of a trip to the big screen. However, this is still a Peter Jackson film—make sure you’ve got a full three hours free before you attempt to tame this beast.