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Depression-era New York City – that is where our story starts
With lovely actress Miss Ann Darrow having trouble finding parts.
Both work and food are scarce to find, though some demeaning jobs still pay,
But Miss Ann Darrow will not stoop (except to steal some fruit one day).
 
Then Carl Denham joins the scene and offers Ann the perfect role,
The female lead in his next film, the tools of which (turns out) he stole.
The film’s producers doubt his skill, and so, before they shut him down,
He leaves with Ann and his film crew aboard a freighter out of town.
 
He also tricks his “pal” Jack Driscoll, who’s a writer Ann admires,
Into staying on the ship to write the script that Carl requires.
The ship sails on to who-knows-where, according to a cryptic map
That Carl has, which leads to fortune or perhaps into a trap.
 
While Ann and Jack grow close on ship, the crew exhibits trepidation,
Particularly when they learn “Skull Island” is their destination.
Soon they run into some rocks and narrowly avoid a wreck.
When Carl’s crew then go ashore, the captain lets him risk his neck.
 
They meet some dark malicious natives, and they pay a bloody price,
But Englehorn, the captain, comes and stops the hostiles’ sacrifice.
They try to leave, but several natives come aboard and kidnap Ann.
She’s taken to a giant wall and lowered by the wicked clan.
 
A giant ape appears and takes her, just before her friends arrive,
So Englehorn sends out a group to quickly bring her back alive.
With Carl’s movie crew along to film what marvels may await,
The rescue team soon realizes this land holds creatures out-of-date.
 
The great gorilla shakes poor Ann and takes her to his cliffside haunt.
To keep him calm, the girl performs her vaudeville acts she hopes he’ll want.
He likes his toy but plays too rough, which prompts a firm, emphatic “No.”
He yells a bit but then departs, and Ann is unsure where to go.
 
Meanwhile, Jack and all the rest are facing jeopardy as well.
When Carl films some dinosaurs, a stampede shrinks their personnel.
A swampy cruise turns deadly too, and, once they’ve left the lethal bog,
They meet the dreaded ape himself, who shakes the humans off a log.
 
The island’s king then seeks his toy and finds Ann threatened by a rival.
He fights a V. Rex trio for her, and she joins him for survival.
A giant insect pit of death comes close to claiming Carl and Jack,
But Englehorn saves them again, though Carl’s film he can’t get back.
 
When Jack goes on to rescue Ann, he finds her with the mammoth brute,
And, with the help of giant bats, they flee, the ape in hot pursuit.
To make the journey all worthwhile, Englehorn and Carl try
To catch the beast; it’s dangerous, but, in the end, they get their guy.
 
Though Ann is sickened by it, Carl puts the giant on display
And turns “King Kong” into the biggest hit, a sellout on Broadway.
Ann’s stand-in and the camera lights turn out to be too much for Kong;
He breaks his chains and finds a world in which the beast does not belong.
 
His rampage trashes New York’s streets, as Kong goes searching for dear Ann.
She comes to him, and their odd friendship gets as touching as it can.
But then the army trucks arrive, and Kong takes Ann to lofty heights
And scales the tall Empire State Building so that they can see the sights.
 
The airplanes come and shoot at Kong, who’s not as mighty as he’s been.
He saves Miss Darrow from a fall, but, in the end, the airplanes win.
His body plummets to the ground, and people gather where he’s sprawled,
But Ann, who still has Jack, will miss the beast her beauty so enthralled.
___________________________
 

Some films are so classic that the mere thought of a remake is sacrilegious simply because there is no way for them to possibly be done better; such is the case for Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, or It’s a Wonderful Life. But if any old movie deserved, in fact demanded, a blockbuster makeover, it was 1933’s King Kong. The special effects in the original are certainly amazing and even manage to impress by today’s standards, but a modern version was certainly understandable, considering the mixed reviews garnered by Dino De Laurentiis’s 1976 remake. And who better but Peter Jackson to bring Kong to life and turn this 72-year-old story into an epic?

The whole film is a special effects extravaganza and is perhaps too much. The 1930s opening recreates that time very well, but it has a distinctly modern feel too; it looks like a modern reproduction of Depression-era New York rather than the actual thing. The acting is all right with the main standout being Naomi Watts, who manages to scream as effectively as and much less frequently than the original’s Fay Wray. Jack Black plays a good con artist in Carl Denham but seems out of place in the epic way Jackson presents the story (his final famous line falls FLAT as can be), and most of the other actors are just there basically to meet their uniquely grisly deaths on Skull Island. The biggest improvement over the original, besides the digital effects, is the relationship between Ann Darrow and Kong. It’s much less one-sided here than in the 1933 version, with Ann clearly caring for the ape almost as much as he cares for her, but in a more protector/damsel way rather than in a strange sexual way. Thus, it is more of a beauty-and-the-beast friendship than a romance.

The special effects are certainly the film’s biggest draw, with the sauropod stampede and the Kong vs. V. Rex fight being the jaw-dropping marvels of the film. The latter is one of the most exciting scenes in recent years for sure.

Despite all these pluses, the film drags on way too long. Considering what Jackson has done with The Hobbit of late, he maybe could have broken this film into three parts too. Nearly every scene, especially some unnecessary slow-motion ones, could have been trimmed in some way, shortening the film as a whole. Plus, the savage natives’ attack and the insect pit scene indulge too much in Jackson’s proven love of horror and are honestly hard to watch. Plus, there’s plenty of language, and the end is just sad, without any real moral aside from the fact they should have left Kong on the island. Still, for sheer spectacle, King Kong is a wonder to behold. Jackson made The Lord of the Rings so he could fund this film; it probably should have been the other way around.

Best line: (Carl) “Ann, I’m not that kind of person.”  (Ann) “Oh really, then what kind of person are you, Mr. Denham?”  (Carl) “I’m someone you can trust; I’m a movie producer.”

 
Artistry: 6
Characters/Actors: 5
Entertainment: 7
Visual Effects: 9
Originality: 5
Watchability: 6
Other (language and violence): -8
 
TOTAL: 30 out of 60
 

Next: #305: The Greatest Game Ever Played

© 2014 S. G. Liput

 

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