Yeah, we had the Big Monkey Movie Night (and don't start on me about how Kong was an ape. I know. But "monkey" is a waaaaay funnier word) last night.
I thought it would never, ever end. The first half was pretty good, and yes, the effects were great. But after about 80 minutes, I really began to get concerned, knowing how much of the story was remaining to be told. A long while after that, I asked Alex, "So, in this version, are they not GOING back to New York?" Really. This movie is long. I haven't even looked up how long, but it was well after midnight when it was finally over, and I know we put it on shortly after putting Bella to bed at something like 7:00...OK, I exxagerrate. But not by much.
I feel like Peter Jackson may have had some unfinished LOTR business or something. And I swear the heads of the giant bats (you heard me, giant bats) smacked of leftover orc costumes, too.
Again, good effects, and the performances were not poor (we couldn't love Jack Black more, but I'm thinking this role's camp/melodrama leanings suited him well), and they did a better job of "humanizing" the ape than has ever been done. That by itself was amazing. But I would not let a kid of mine see this until at least age 12, if that. Once they finally get to Skull Island, which takes a good 6 or 7 hours' screen time, the characters must face, and get attacked and usually horribly slaughtered by:
*The not-quite-human, Gollumesque natives--seriously, these are some scary "people."
*Dinosaurs, several varieties including T. Rex, raptors, something that looked like a mutant giant alligator, and The Dinosaur Formerly Known As Brontosaurus.
*Giant mosquitos (at the first appearance of these, Alex says, "Hey, did they film this in Arkansas?" Har, har.)
*Kong himself (giant ape)
*Giant horrific leech monsters with double "Alien"-style telescoping mouths-within-mouths--THIS was where I just drew the line at kid-viewing, and I'd been plenty wary about it up to that point.
*Giant...wasps? Not sure on that one, but they fly up, grab your face, then sting you through the throat. Repeatedly. Nice.
The body count was stated, near the end of the movie (which occured about 14 hours after its beginning, by my estimate), to be 17. But if you'd asked us, we'd have put it closer to 40. Besides getting dispatched by the plentiful scary monsters, lots of people got maimed/killed as collateral damage, falling off cliffs, or getting slung into hard surfaces by various large scary beasts. Oh, but I forgot! Seventeen was the number given as dying in the party that went to Skull Island, but LOTS more people die after that in New York, too! Wheee! We have no idea HOW they got back after losing most of the crew, or how in the world they accomodated that enormous ape on that smallish ship, or how they kept him contained and sedated and cared for, but that's just nitpicking.
And speaking of nitpicking, a minor point that just annoyed me: Every animal on this island was GIGANTIC. Huge bugs, enormous bats, giant ape...you get the picture. So what I can't figure out is, how come the dinosaurs weren't just HUMONGOUS? They were standard dino-size, which of course made the T-Rex (or whatever the kids are calling it these days) of perfect Kong-fighting size. I guess the evolutionary quirk that made everything huge happened after the dinosaurs' era...but wait! The evolutionary chain is on its head! Apes came to be, while dinosaurs continued to be! What? Ah, well, just a movie. Just a movie. But still...the scene with the dinos caught in vines and swinging above the great Chasm O' Death and still trying to devour our heroine? Arrrgh.
So, I guess this one just didn't do it for me, though I'd watch it just for the Kong effects, which were pretty stunning, particularly his face. And Adrien Brody gets his smooch on in this one--way to go, A.B.! Worth watching? Sure. Would I be missing anything if I'd not seen it? Nah. Especially if I'd seen a "making of" special about it. Would I let a kid watch it in a million years? Nope, but that's just me. Hey, I was a precocious kid, but this thing would have given me the screaming nightmares; especially the giant alien leech-monsters. But then, I didn't grow up playing ultra-realistic video games and becoming accustomed to uber-realism in death and gore onscreen, so maybe today's kids aren't as phased. I dunno.
At the very least, I'd definitely recommend a parental screening prior to handing this one over to the kiddies. Language was mild, no nudity. But Oh! The Violence and Scariness!
And finally, you know you're not just swept up in the story when, as Kong swats an airplane out of the sky, you repeat one of your husband's favorite quotes, from a T.V. rodeo announcer calling a bullride in which the rider has just been thrown, trampled, and messily gored, "See, that right there's where y' gitcher death and serious injury." When I'm quoting Alex quoting television rodeo announcers during a movie, I'm probably not being sufficiently entertained.