Directed by: Peter Jackson
Premise: A remake of the 1933 film. A film crew travels to an unknown island and discovers a giant ape.
What Works: As a loud, fun, roller coaster of a film, this version of King Kong is among the greats. What the filmmakers have constructed is a tribute to a classic film. They have maintained the adventure, the romance, and the themes of the original and given them a huge booster shot. For instance, the film repeats some of the dialogue and the music from the 1933 film but places or rephrases it in new ways and in new places. This remake is able to improve on some of the original film’s weaker points, namely the way the original story lags before the characters get to the island. In this version, the travel is used to complicate some of the character relationships and give them some development before the characters are put in peril. The strongest human performance is by Naomi Watts as Ann Darrow but the star of the show is the computer-generated Kong (Andy Serkis). In the ongoing argument about the artistic integrity of computer-generated characters in film, King Kong makes a great case in CGI’s defense.
What Doesn’t: The film gets a little too sentimental at moments, using one too many dewy-eyed gazes between Kong and Ann. This is especially true in a completely out of place ice sequence in New York. For the level of production, some of the CGI work involving the dinosaurs and the water around the island looks really poor.
Bottom Line: King Kong is a great love story with some really great action set pieces. For all its flaws, the film delivers both the romance and the action and is a worthy remake of the original film.
Episode: #78 (December 18, 2005)