Peter Jackson takes “King Kong” a timeless classic from 1933 and remakes it bigger, larger, and louder. And he’s very faithful to the original story (98 percent). Jackson goes back to the roots of the story, and what made it so damn good, and brings it to modern audiences. Though nothing can ever top the original film, and all of its novelty, Jackson’s remake is pretty damn good. What always intrigued me about the Kong story, is that Ann Darrow, whether she knew it or not, was the beginning of the end of King Kong. In the climax, as he falls from the Empire State Building, you have to wonder that perhaps he was better off being alone. As with all noir the female is always the end for the male.
Though, Watts is in fact very good as Darrow she lacks the utter charisma and sex appeal Wray defined in the original film that made her a pop culture icon. Watts is utterly beautiful, but this version won’t do a thing to make her the icon that Wray became, and in spite of having a role that only consisted really of screaming, Wray still tops her. Sadly, Black and Brody are also miscast. Brody is not the hero type, no matter how sensitive they make Driscoll, I always pictured someone else much more different in terms of range and charisma. And Black, I just expected to jump around and bulge his eyes at us. He’s hard to take seriously, and that’s not what I want to see in an action thriller.
In a vain attempt to add much more depth, we see the most meandering, and tacked on subplots I’ve ever seen that were there, if for nothing else than to pad a story that didn’t need padding. Did we really need to care about the captain, the first mate and his young apprentice? Jackson, for some reason, feels its important to add back stories to the sailors, and even spends an obscene amount of time on their chemistry and interplay, and especially takes time to focus on the character of Preston, Denham’s assistant for some odd reason. Jackson’s special effects are also never perfect as we sometimes see pixels within the CGI, especially in one scene where Ann is hanging from a log, and a T-Rex is slowly sneaking up on her.
That said, there are some wonderful set pieces which help to influence the story for the audience, for instance Skull Island, which Jackson uses as a mood piece, but also as an explanation as to why there’s only one giant ape on the island. Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens excel at showing more emphases on the characters and Kong in particular. Ann Darrow is a gorgeous and stunning Vaudevillian performer struggling to eat, and then learns how to love, when Kong comes along, Jack Driscoll is a struggling writer who goes along only because he has to and then falls for Darrow as well. Jackson turns the beast loves woman concept in to beast loves women who loves man love triangle that really managed to work, and worked well. And, I really liked the symbolism of having Driscoll a writer behind bars in the ship writing his ass off.
Jackson really displays the thankless work of a writer and his feelings of imprisonment and slavery in a job. Sadly, as much as I loved the original film, Cooper was a little short-sighted in terms of creating Kong as an individual, and Jackson picks up the slack with this same but different Kong. Kong is old, he has war scars, he has a sentiment, and he bears more of a presence. Here Kong is more expressive, more alive, and more demanding. And Andy Serkis is excellent as Kong. Kong goes here from falling in love, to fighting off man made monsters, to protecting her from man. He is a king in search of someone to love, and he’s all by himself. Though it’s overblown, sports a limp first half, tacked on sub-plots, and flawed special effects, “King Kong” is still a solid action film and okay remake.