Wednesday, March 29, 2006

KONG: Long. And SO Not For Kids

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.)
*Giant scorpions
*Giant centipedes
*Giant bats
*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 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.


  1. Dh is dying to see this movie (waiting for it to arrive via Netflix) but I saw the making of and realized thst everything I cared about seeing was in that special. Just like you said. LOL. Thanks for the review!

  2. I have a feeling you will, too! Seriously, I've read a lot of first-time-mom posts about viewing the littlun as "alien," etc., and that might happen to some people, but I don't think you'll be one of those. You sound so much like I did when I was pregnant when you talk about the baby, and I think I spent 6 solid weeks just staring at her and weeping with joy. :-)

  3. I loooved King Kong. And I didn't seem to mind the length, either (I saw it twice in the theaters).

    The part with the nighttime bugs and gunk? Oh. My. Gosh. Terrifed, I was. I hate creppy crawlies.

  4. I was greatly disturbed by this film.

    King Kong fell in love with Ann Darrow and got in all kinds of trouble because of it. Kind of a sad tale, but he's a giant monkey, so what are you going to do? In the original Black & White film, Ann Darrow felt sorry for Kong, and it was kind of touching.

    HOWEVER, in the remake I got the definite feeling that Ann Darrow was IN LOVE with Kong! It was very creepy... too many longing looks and love-stares for comfortable viewing.

    Maybe it was just me, but it was just too over-the-top, and everything from the "ice-skating" scene onwards was almost painful to watch.

  5. I had absolutely no desire to see this movie whatsoever when my dad and I went to see it (it was a "boy's day out" and this was the only thing showing that neither of us had already seen on our own and had any interest in seeing at all). And I actually walked out having enjoyed it. Yes, Kong was great and I attribute that wholly to Andy Serkis who did the same miracle of humanization (and demonization) with Gollum. As weird as some scenes were like the insect scenes and whatnot, they were made up for in my mind with scenes like Central Park on Ice. Naomi Watts was great.

  6. THIS parent of teenagers is afraid to see the entire Wizard of Oz movie because of the flying monkeys and you think I'm going to PREVIEW Kong for my kids? No, nooooooo, I don't think so.

    My kids like a bit of gore every now and again, but I couldn't even watch the Matrix or LOTR because my first language is Cluck Cluck BOK! Uh uh...Nope, not gonna happen.

    Giant insects? Just put me in the sanitarium now.

  7. As an ex-pat living in New Zealand, this movie was big deal. I saw it the largest theater here in Christchurch with all the other eager Kiwis.

    I'm all for running the gamet of emotions in a film. I go to horror movies alone, for pete's sake, but one emotion I did not expect to feel during this film was minor boredom.

    I liked this movie (8 out of 10), for the sole reason that I knew the special effects would rock, and the giant insects would creep me out, and because I have a soft spot for Jackson. Here's the but...BUT...I did not expect to be bored at moments of high danger, including the brontasaur(sp)stampede, the bug fight, the T-Rex fight, the ice skating thing and the arduous climb to the top of the Empire State Building.

    I know there were some kids in the theater who were exceedingly more restless than I was.

    I suggest Zathura for the kiddos, next time around.

  8. chase, the giant bugs and crawly stuff in the pit just grossed me out, and felt like overkill for how it went on and on and...well, on. Seriously--had this movie been half as long? I'd have liked it much better.

    dave2--you are so NOT imagining that! I would suspect that having Andy Serkis in the ape-suit during rehearsals and filming against the green screen might have humanized the ape a bit too much? I can see where that would be a difficult thing to accomplish as an actor: "Interact with this guy, whose face you can see, as if he's an animal"...I dunno. If they had not shown his silver bakc toward the end of the film, I could have made much more of a case for Kong being female. It would have made more sense, knowing what we know about the nature of great apes.

    kevin--you're such a sweetiesoftieschmoopy!! The ice-rink scene! You devil, you. You probably snuck a cuddle with your wife during that scene, too. I'm with dave2 on this one. It was a sweet scene, yes, but lifted me more out of my "willing suspension of disbelief" than some of the more fantastical scenes. The ape stuff was truly phenomenal.

    margalit, you're not missing much, I promise! Get them to tell you when she's dancing around to keep the ape from killing her...that's the best part!

    shannon, you are exactly right...those "chase scenes" were really too much to bear. The stuff in between was pretty entertaining, but whenever the smash-n-dash started, I just kind of checked out mentally until something else happened. It was just TOO LONG. I read later that the bronto scene alone was NINE MINUTES. Nine minutes with no dialogue or furthering of plot is a long time, in movie-world!

  9. We were very disappointed by the film. You're right, it went on f-o-r-e-v-e-r.

    But we were at the beach and it was pouring all day, and it was something to do.

  10. Bless you my child, for gently taking the sting out of the movie I thought I had to see (because of a serious infatuation with Jack Black) but now will not crimp my Netflix queue (never quite sure if I am spelling that damn word right) with.

    Love your husband's "gitcher" quote!

  11. Thanks for the review, Belinda. I'm no Peter Jackson fan--I thought LOTR was quite boring--so I'd likely skip this movie anyway. I admit to being curious about the special effects though.

  12. King Kong, with all the death and such is my kind of movie. And I love Adrien Brody. Oddly cute.

    But I suspect it's definitely a suspend-all-brain action movie.

    Technically, animals are often smaller on islands. You get your big flaura on large landmasses like Africa.

  13. I like your movie reviews. We rented "Chicken Little" on your recommendation and I liked it as much as the boys did. Especially when the duck and the pig were singing Spice Girls Karaoke.

    Don't want to see Kong. Love Peter Jackson, but no thank you to GIANT CRAWLING THINGS. Gah,shudder.

  14. We watched this the other night too. I am terrified of heights, and this aspect of the movie had me screaming "GET AWAY FROM THE EDGE OF THE VERY HIGH CLIFF, NOW!!! PLEASE". I mean, really, wouldn't you have lost the heels when you started up the ladder on the Empire State building??? While they were all standing on the very top, hugging and such, I was cringing and wondering if someone was going to trip and fall off the building. Yikes!

  15. You just put Peter Jackson down. But after what he did to the ROTK extended edition, he deserves it. (Note to self: do not go see Kong.)