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A Resounding Thud

December 18th, 2005 - 6:10 pm

Quick review of Peter Jackson’s new King Kong movie: for God’s sake, somebody introduce this guy to a competent film editor and screenwriter.

Longer version (although not nearly as long as the movie): It’s not very good. Jackson is an incredibly gifted production designer and producer; he has to be to get movies of this scope made at all, but the sad truth is, he’s not a great director. The images are beautiful, but the story, which was stretched thin in the original’s 100 minutes, just can’t hold up to the three-hour torture test.

This “King Kong” is a monument to self-indulgence on Jackson’s part. He and his creative partners weren’t able to ruin “The Lord Of The Rings” with sophomoric screenwriting (although they gave it a hell of a try), but lacking Tolkien to fall back on, every story seam shows in “King Kong.” Making things worse, Jackson falls back on the lazy director’s crutch of slow motion about two dozen too many times in this badly-paced film. There are plenty of sequences to increase the heart rate in “Kong,” but the ‘serious’ scenes are deadly dull, and extended to painful lengths.

Remember the end of “Return of the King,” when it didn’t seem like the damn movie would ever be over? It’s ten times worse here. Not far from me in the theater, somebody said (quietly), “Just fall off the damn building already,” and the big ape lasted another ten minutes after that. I’m not exaggerating by saying that you could cut out an hour from the 180 minute marathon of “King Kong,” and not only wouldn’t the audience miss it, you’d make the movie immensely more entertaining.

Much of the acting is bad (yes, Jack Black, I’m talking to you), and while the big set-piece effects sequences are indeed eye-popping, we’ve already seen most of them before in various “Jurassic Park” features. Certainly, the monsters and scenery are tremendous visually. Jackson’s digital artists are at the top of their game… but like those employed by George Lucas, they’re laboring to pretty up a script written by hacks, and for a director to whom nobody has the power (or nerve) to say, “This is a really weak scene.”

Eh, that’s enough. There’s no point in going on for hundreds of words here. Like I said, it’s just not a very good movie. Rent it for the pretty pictures, but get ready to use that “skip” button early and often.

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