Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A Creature Feature of Colossal Importance

Despite having state of the art special effects, King Kong is a real throwback to early cinema. It emphasizes what going to the movies in the 30s was all about, the spectacle of it, the ability to see things you could not see anywhere else. While the interest seems to be waning, this is still what going to the movies is about in the present. In a time when we're seeing this drastic shift toward home video instead of going to the movie theater, it is very important for a film of this scale to be released, something that Spielberg also displayed in the less successfully realized War of the Worlds. The two disaster films differ in that Kong is a perfectly executed movie on all fronts: the characters, casting choices, visual effects, music score, a beating heart and even a suitably somber conclusion.

A good portion of the film’s first hour is dedicated to fleshing out the characters and as a result there is a multitude of main characters who feel important and interesting and relatable. The inspired casting of Jack Black in the megalomaniac role of Carl Denham pays off handsomely. He gives it just enough humor and humanity to avoid being singled out as the film’s villain; instead he is an entertainer who succumbs to a villainous ideology that he exhibits taking the blame. Surely Peter Jackson sees some of himself in this character. Last year Naomi Watts proved that she was not afraid to look silly doing preposterous dance moves in I Heart Huckabees and similarly goes for broke as an out-of-work vaudevillian performer. Adrian Brody is also effective as the chivalrous writer who must convey both yearning love and unimaginable fear with the briefest of facial expressions. And of course there is the mighty beast himself who is a visual marvel in his execution and a tender achievement in his characterization. In short, anyone who really loves going to the movies must buy a ticket for King Kong and thank Peter Jackson for doing his part to keep the movie houses in business.

1 comment:

Cinema Journal said...

The connection to the cinema of attractions is intriguing... so much to catch up on when I get back to NY next week. Best of Youth is back at Cinema Village, Hitch retro closes this week, Fass at IFC, plus the Kong and Line, as you reccomended. Time to pawn those xmas gifts... When are you coming back to the city?