King Kong at Hoyts, Broadway

Bit of a catch-up happening here, as I’ve seen four films in the past week, and have only just finished writing up The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Just Like Heaven and Good Night, and Good Luck.

I’ve never been particularly interested in the earlier versions of King Kong, since it sounded like a film showing people being horrible to an animal, which didn’t really appeal to me. But Peter Jackson has built up a lot of credit, and on a really hot day, three-plus hours in an air-conditioned cinema didn’t seem like such a bad idea.

I enjoyed the first hour of so of King Kong much more than I expected. It was basically a character piece, and while none of the characters were particularly complex or original, they were all interesting and well performed. I also loved some of the visuals in the early scenes, which seemed to really capture a sense of what it might have been like for people living then. So by the time they got to the island, I was fully settled in, enjoying the characters, and interested and involved in the plot development.

But for me, the film went downhill in a big way from this point. There was just too much happening. Each of the action scenes was good in itself, and such dialogue and character development as there was equalled the material in the first section of the film – I particularly liked the bit where Bruce Baxter walks casually away from the dinosaurs, until he is past the camera, at which point he starts sprinting for his life. But it just went on and on and on and on. Peter Jackson seemed to be needlessly self-indulgent in allowing himself to include every single action sequence he could think up, rather than just picking and choosing the best ones. So by the end, no matter how good the sequences were, I was bored and just wanted the film to pick up and get on with it.

And for some reason, the final section of the film simply didn’t work for me. Maybe it was because I had been so fed up by the section on the island (and annoyed by the fact that the film never showed how they actually got Kong back to New York – there was no way he could have fit on the boat, but you obviously weren’t supposed to think about that). Or maybe it was because I had difficulty figuring out Ann Darrow’s motivation – she obviously was meant to feel more for Kong than just compassion and gratitude that he had saved her life, but it wasn’t clear just how strong the emotional bond was, or how it meshed in with her feelings for Jack Driscoll. It was a line of thought I wasn’t particularly comfortable with anyway, and this was compounded by the fact that many of her actions didn’t really seem designed to achieve anything productive.

But whatever the reason, I was completely unmoved by the end. I genuinely didn’t feel anything when Kong died – even though I had expected to find it very sad. But the film had so completely lost my by that point, that I simply couldn’t engage with it any more.

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