King Kong 2005 - Beauty Killed the Beast

Duration: 187min
Category: Adventure
Available: On DVD
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The phrase “instant classic” is being thrown around a lot in the context of Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong but it’s hard to argue with that once you have seen the finished film. King Kong is classic.

Jackson has crafted an inspired take on the original, sticking faithfully true to the story while adding the kinds of touches that enrich the experience.

Basically, he gives everyone more. He gives the characters more to do, more motivation. They are all more fully drawn, realised and understood. For example, Ann Darrow isn’t simply a beauty at the whim of forces beyond her control. She’s a talented performer who wins the beast’s love with more than just her good looks.

This is part of an overall trend to give the film the post-modern take today’s audiences require. The treatment of the island’s natives, the critique of colonialism, the understanding of gender issues; each of these brings the story of King Kong into an intellectual space that can handle the emotional weight that is to come.

And that weight is heavy. Jackson’s film is dripping with pathos. The combo of adventure, tragedy and romance makes the film a complete package fit for any audience – although the violence, as in the original, is not for the young or faint at heart.

Jackson is a true movie lover and this loving homage to his favourite piece is a treasure trove of references for film buffs. There are those takes for the King Kong fans such as the movie scene shot by the “actors” on their voyage to Skull Island or the dancing tribes people in the stage production. There is also the long lost bug pit scene finally brought to full life as part of the overall King Kong myth.

There is also the way Jackson creates the film in such a 30s style. From the look to the style of acting, Jackson has made King Kong both a film of its time and timeless.

Jackson might have added a bit of a vanity in changing the hero’s role from the handsome, masculine stud to the brainy, awkward and creative type but when you are this good a film maker who is to begrudge him a little fantasy. Okay, Jackson, the nerd can get the girl… well sort of. She still picks the ape in the end.

The only thing that keeps the movie from being perfect is Jackson’s tendency towards excess. His experience on the Lord of the Rings films obviously didn’t help him. There are moments when the film slips into ridiculousness. Yes I know this is a B-Movie homage and I know that this is a film about a giant ape but still…

Jackson must have a dinosaur stampede which our heroes miraculously survive. They survive huge falls by clinging to pterodactyls. There can’t just be tens of gross, gigantic bugs, there must be hundreds. And we are to believe that some young punk who has never fired a gun before can shoot bugs off the back of a wildly flailing man without ever striking him with a bullet?

Peter, you can do better than this.

And for the most part you do. King Kong is a strikingly powerful and moving film that happens to be remarkably beautiful. The beauty of the film slays its beastly flaws. A film for real film lovers and casual fans alike. King Kong, is close to perfect and well worth seeing on a big screen. If you don’t see this film in a cinema you are truly missing out.

Review By: Collin Smith

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