King Kong

Naomi Watts and Andy Serkis (sort of) in King Kong (dir. Peter Jackson, 2005).

Peter Jackson gives the old classic a bit of a case of Titanicitis. He never passes up a chance for a breathtaking vista bathed in a golden Maxfield Parrish glow, and things are done with CGI that would have looked a lot better if they had just been done the old-fashioned way: like, people in a rowboat, for instance. I won't even get into the whole "degenerate race" native scene. And that brontosaurus pile-up--well, that almost pushes us into Stephen Sommers territory, as do the giant man-eating worms and evil-faced bats. And it really doesn't need to be three hours long.

All the same, there are rousing moments and nice touches. The recreated depression-era New York is as gloriously fake and gaudy as Skull Island. More so. Jack Black renders Carl Denham in broad strokes (surprise), but he works the self-reflexive moviemaking trope in entertaining ways. Naomi Watts is good when she's hanging out with Kong and doesn't have to read the flat dialogue. Adrien Brody is generally pretty useless as far as I'm concerned, but he recreates a certain kind of early-talkie ineffective-leading-man type quite effectively. And Kong himself has a lot of personality, even if at least half that personality is Tony Soprano. When he breaks loose in the city, he picks up four blondes in close succession, realizes they're not the one he wants, and throws them aside like candy wrappers. We all know guys like that.

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