I finally bought Peter Jackson's version of King Kong today.
I've been a fan of Jackson's work ever since i saw Bad Taste for the first time and I own all his movies. It was with some trepidation that I bought this movie because how can one improve on the original, a movie that has been in the collective human conscience since 1933.
What follows are my impressions while watching the film (and yes, I am sad enough to fire up the laptop to write this while actually watching the film, mostly because I know I won't want to write a full review later). If things don't really make sense to you just read a synopsis on the web somewhere. This is mostly observations from a biological perspective, if you want to get a feel for the acting or plotline in this movie read a real review.
First of all the start is sloooooow. It takes about 1 hour and 5 minutes before anything really interesting to happen. This is when the ship finally arrives at Skull Island, is stranded and the crew encounters some natives.
We're seeing some really grotesque distorted facial features that reminds me of some earlier Jackson films. Kudos to whoever did the makeup of the natives. Powerful stuff.
Now we're getting silly, one of the natives pole vaults to the ship which the crew is trying to get afloat again. He abducts our heroin so she can be offered as a sacrifice (presumably) to Kong. The chants and ethnic drums sound ok and make this semi-believable.
Ok, this is just sad. We're seeing a group of herbivorous dinosaurs (Diplodocus-like animals) frightened by some carnivorous raptor-like pack. Herd-like they flee.
Real herbivores don't jostle and trash each other this much. It's been a while since I studied biology but I'm pretty sure that when a herd of herbivores flees from a pack of carnivores they are pretty well ordered, they don't bump into each other. They don't crash into the scenery, they don't trample smaller animals. Watch Animal Planet, no way will a herd of wildebeest trample their young, step on a fallen comrade or whatever. Herd Instinct is not blind, mindless panic. Young go in the middle, fullgrown at the edges. There's order here.
Oh, and what's up with the raptors. Why do they keep pursuing the herd or (a bit later) the humans when there are already plenty of victims (trampled, smashed between bulky leafeaters and rockfaces, around. A group of 4 to 6 (my estimate) of medium sized raptors (about twice the size of a man) could live quite comfortably for a week off a kill of one of the diplodocus animals. Why pursue more prey when you already have more than you can eat? This makes no sense whatsoever.
Kong then. Finally we get to see him in all his full glory as he toys with the heroine. This is kind of weird as I know that the actor that did the motion capture stuff for Kong spent a lot of time studying Gorillas in zoos and in the wild in Rwanda. The behaviour I've seen so far off Kong is distinctly like a child having a tantrum, not like that of a full-grown male Silverback. Gorillas are herbivores, calm, gentle creatures. Yes even a normal Gorilla can crush you like a you were made of tinfoil but in reality they don't do this. Just like I wouldn't randomly slap a child about in a supermarket, so they wouldn't slap a human around unless they felt threatened. But then, why would a 30 foot Gorilla even care about a 6 foot human female, I'll reserve my judgement on this for a moment as I'm not yet halfway through the film but this Kong doesn't feel more right than the original despite all the hype of this one being more like a real gorilla.
Aaah, great. A T-Rex like animal pursuing the heroine. Why it would want to do this is unclear as it already has an animal in its mouth that is roughly twice the size (and about 4 times the bodyweight) of the actress. Even if the T-Rex is warm blooded (nowadays the experts are kind of thinking a lot of dinosaurs may have been warm-blooded) this feast would last him for a few days. We'll bypass the fact that a T-Rex was probably not a real active hunter but more a scavenger. Still, a T-Rex! They're cool! And this one is nicely animated, the movement is very, very nicely done. Excellent work here.
Ok, this is just too silly to describe. Kong is fighting 3 T-rexes at the same time. I simply cannot describe what happens here, it's just too silly for words. Let's just say that Kong knows some basic boxing and wrestling moves and that the T-Rexes don't have any sense of self preservation whatsoever. No wonder they died out and mammals became the dominant species. Geek note: Mammals (Mammalia) are a class, while dinosuars (Dinosauria) are a superorder, see Wikipedia entry on scientific classification
. I was going to make a point of this but i forgot why. Live with it.
Oooh, the rescue party is attacked by giant cockroaches and whip scorpions or another species that resembles a cross between spiders and scorpions. Luckily you don't seem to have to be able to aim straight to shoot them off a wildly trashing human body.
Ok, in a matter of minutes the beast has been subdued by liberal use of chloroform and we're back in New York. I think it's safe to say that most of the biological stuff is now out of the way so I'll wrap this up for now. Kong is romping around in NY, the military is shooting stuff at him and I guess we'll be climbing a big tower in the next few minutes.
If you're wondering: the movie isn't as bad as it may seem to be. There's just a whole lot of things I find inaccurate about it. But that's ok, the movie is entertaining and it's not like Hollywood has a good record of dealing with science in a way that reflects the actual world.
Jackson should go back to his roots and do something weird, stop-motiony and original. And I don't mean he should do a remake of Meet the Feebles. (Brilliant movie, go see it now!) Zombies, gore, horror, alienation, grotesqueness. This is what he's best at.