December 24, 2005
King Kong
Posted by Gordon Smith

Almost every critic seems to think that King Kong is too long, but most feel that it is simply too much of a good thing. I, on the other hand, couldn't wait for it to end.

The special effects are magnificent, and I stayed with the film for a long time just marveling at everything on the screen. This is a beautiful movie, but let's face it: the story is silly. I have seen all three versions of Kong, and the plot in this version is richer than in the others, but it is still silly. And it doesn't become any less silly by dragging it out over three hours.

I read a bunch of reviews of the movie (after seeing it myself and forming my own impressions), and here are some thoughts with which I agree:

Paul Arendt: "If anything, there is too much action in Kong. The relentless chases and smackdowns start to grind after a while."

A.O. Scott: "At times, the blending of computer-generated imagery and live action is pushed to a point where the seams begin to show, as in a Pamplona-style running of the brontosauruses, with various human actors darting between the legs of rampaging lizards."

Amy Biancolli: "This Kong is long: three hours. It's overacted: In scene after scene, Naomi Watts and Jack Black stare gape-mouthed at the camera. It's under-edited: Were I holding an X-Acto knife, I would have lopped 45 minutes, maybe even an hour, off the front of the movie, slashing whole scenes and several characters out of existence."

Josh Bell: "For all of the astounding spectacle he achieves, Jackson is guilty of rampant overindulgence, and as with Tim Burton's recent Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, his film has a certain 'so what?' feel. He spends three hours letting us know that King Kong is his favorite movie. His version is made with consummate imagination and skill, but it's still largely superfluous."

David Denby: "This 'Kong' is high-powered entertainment, but Jackson pushes too hard and loses momentum over the more than three hours of the movie. The story was always a goofy fable—that was its charm—and a well-told fable knows when to stop."

Finally, in a review that makes me think, "What the ...?"

Roger Ebert: "I think the film even has a message, and it isn't that beauty killed the beast. It's that we feel threatened by beauty, especially when it overwhelms us, and we pay a terrible price when we try to deny its essential nature and turn it into a product, or a target."

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