King Kong

(Possible spoilers below, but I mean it's King Kong. He dies at the end. Still read at your own risk.)

I'm going to admit something. It's something that's hard to admit to the average person let alone an internet elite group who would be running across this page right now.

I've never seen the original King Kong all the way through.

Over the years since cable became a household product, I've seen bits and pieces of it here and there which coalesced into a vague idea of what the story was about. I knew before this year, for instance, that Kong was a big gorilla. I knew that somehow some people got onto an island while filming an early century action movie and stumbled onto a primitive tribe of people who kidnapped the leading lady and "donated" her to the Kong Needs A Girl Fund. I knew that Kong fought a T-Rex. I knew that somehow the movie crew captured Kong, took him back to New York where he went crazy, climbed a building and eventually died. I know he loved the leading lady and she began to find some closeness to the beast.

Turns out that's all I needed to know to watch this movie. I felt bad not knowing how close this 2005 Peter Jackson incarnation was to the original film. I felt bad not knowing all the trivia and factoids related to Kong Mania. I didn't know there were sequels or remakes. I thought this was magic because there was 1933 then today. Turns out there were several remakes and sequels and TV deals and cartoons.

I didn't know about the last minute composer changes. I didn't know about the Lost Spider Scene. I didn't know much about the original story behind the movie crew and director and their whole reason to go to skull island.

It'd be like knowing Star Wars exists, and that Darth Vader is a bad guy, but not knowing why he's chasing Luke and why Luke's friends are shooting at stuff from their spaceships or how Yoda lifts things just by wishing it.

So that was a good thing for me going into the movie. I wasn't married to a vision or memory of an old movie. I wasn't expecting any particular piece to be in place. What I was expecting was a lot of good acting and a lot of giant fights. And I got that.

It was phenominal. My only beef was with Jack Black. I hate saying it, because normally I love watching him, but this time around he was a distraction. He wasn't the main character, but his screen presence was one of someone trying to suppress that Main Character image and trying to fit in. At times his timing and humor were right on, and others he blew some very heavily weighted lines.

The rest of the ensemble was wonderful. I was rarely pulled out of the moment by what they did or said. I was also never thinking "what cool effects those are."

And that's the highest praise I can give the movie. The effects didn't run the movie. What ran the movie was what should run the movie, the direction, the action, the emotion. I was holding my breath a lot and even at a midnight showing, I never looked at my watch and thought "Isn't this thing over yet?" Also, Peter Jackson really likes killing off Andy Serkis.

I want to see it again, although as rapt as I was, I don't believe I missed much.

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