King Kong (2005)
Sometimes bigger is better...
5 January 2006
With "The Lord of the Rings," Peter Jackson displayed a Spielbergian gift for making three hours go by in half the time. With "King Kong," he does it again. Once again, I refuse to compare this new version to any earlier ones - although I will say that the 1976 version is one of the first movies I remember seeing, and the sight of Charles Grodin being stepped on has never, ever left me - and judge it on how it works by itself. And this works just fine in spite of its flaws, although most of said flaws aren't that apparent in the watching.

True, it doesn't really have much depth with most of its human characters; yes, the second hour - mostly a bid to become "Jurassic Park IV" - could have been removed with no harm to the movie (although the scene where Skull Island becomes a sort of Pampalona with dinosaurs replacing bulls is effective); and indeed, the climax on the Empire State Building had me more concerned about Ann than about Kong (surely we're supposed to be completely on the ape's side, with the fear that our heroine - who must surely set some kind of record for the number of times someone comes close to plunging to their death in one movie - anyway, with the fear that she's going to tumble off the building a close second?).

But as a spectacular monster movie, it works. As a strange kind of love story (you do bond with Ann and Kong, especially when she does her vaudeville act in front of him), it works. And as an adventure, it really does work. Although Kyle Chandler is better casting than Jack Black, the main players otherwise work well; and it was nice of Universal to leave Howard Shore in the picture (although his score was replaced by a (mostly fine) new work by James Newton Howard, Shore still has an uncredited cameo as the orchestra conductor).

Not a beast, but definitely a beauty.
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