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King Kong – Review


In 1933, there came a movie that forever impacted the film world, or at least it did through the eyes of one little boy. That movie was King Kong and that boy was Peter Jackson. As a young boy, the original King Kong frightened him, but that fear was quickly transformed into awe as that impressionable little boy watched fantastical worlds come to life on the screen before him. He decided to become a filmmaker.

As he worked in a photography shop and experimented with his Super 8mm camera, Jackson became well trained in the art of film. He learned techniques that would allow him to create his own fantastical worlds on a much greater scale. He became well crafted and refined as a young filmmaker, but never lost that sense of awe first felt as a child.

Peter Jackson has watched the original King Kong countless times, but as a finely tuned filmmaker there was no way he could have overlooked the rough, primitive techniques that were groundbreaking at their time. He decided to pay it tribute using the skills he learned over the years. This tribute is the film I saw.

As Ann first laid eyes on the beast, Kong, I pictured Jackson as a child watching the original film. I watched him scream for his life as this beast carried Ann into the wilderness. Over time, Ann learns that there is much more to this beast than savagery and brutality. This beast carries emotions of the purest form. The beast is just a child, ignorant of the ways of the new world.

Perhaps the same thing happened to Jackson. Perhaps the more he watched the original film, he began to realize that there was much more to the story than beauty and the beast. There is a raw emotion in this movie that is unseen in the films of today. Just as Kong teaches Ann to notice the beauty in his savage world on the mountainside, the primitive film taught Jackson to notice the beauty in his own savage world – a lesson that can be seen throughout his body of work.

Jackson is as true to the original King Kong as a man could be. There are those that would criticize the performances of Naomi Watts and Jack Black, or even the dialogue, but Jackson is not making a typical movie, he is recreating the serial adventures of the 30s, 40s, and 50s he saw as a child. The spirit of these serials, stories like Buck Rogers, Ace Drummond, or The Red Rider, emanates through the performances of Watts and Black. They are not playing modern characters, but archetypes plucked out of history. The only new character is that of Jack Driscoll, played by Adrien Brody (Driscoll was the first mate in the original, here he is Denham’s screenwriter) whose style fittingly contrasts with the other two.

At the start, this film can seem campy and drawn out. Perhaps this is because the imaginations of our youth have been pushed back over time and as adults we have replaced them with the regiment and structure of real life. Be patient, before long Jackson will bring out the child in even the most refined adult. You will be able to pinpoint the exact moment this happens. You will forget that the world on screen is false. You will begin to cheer for this giant monkey as he battles incredible monsters. You will cringe as insects swarm the rescue team. Before the end of the movie, you will become a child all over again.

King Kong is much more than a movie about a giant ape. This movie has heart. It has raw emotion in its purest form. Is it campy? At times. Is it juvenile? Sure, but it is meant to be. King Kong is not a movie about an ape’s love for a woman. It is a film built out of a man’s love for an ape.

Ray Bradbury once wrote,


“Go, children. Run and read. Read and run. Show and tell. Spin another pyramid on its nose. Turn another world upside-down. Knock the soot off my brain. Repaint the Sistine Chapel inside my skull. Laugh and think. Dream and learn and build […] And with such good advice, the kids will run. And the Republic will be saved.”

In the bastardized words of Jack Black, this is not the greatest fantasy in the world. This is just a tribute – the greatest tribute in the world.

– 43.2 arbitrary stars