Friday, December 16, 2005

KONG is King in our house!

Movies are a favorite pastime at my house but we have some pretty opposing views when it comes to most films. Paul, my husband, is pretty unforgiving when it comes to the art of film making, and I am much easier to please. For once in a very long time, Paul and I agree on a movie - KONG is KING!

Paul Friel, the king of my jungle, has a perchant for film like no one else I've ever met. He writes impromptu reviews for friends and family (whether they want him to or not) and on many occasions he has been told, "You should go pro!" Although he shrugs off his pro status potential in a way only a Scotsman can do, I'm giving him his film critic debut right here on Yada Feast. If you like it, leave him a comment, and I'll be sure he comes back with more Paul Friel Film Blab, as we've taken to calling it. So, without anymore of my yacking, heeeerrrre's Paul!


King Kong
Directed by Peter Jackson
In theaters December 14 (US release)

Well, I saw the movie last night.

Afterwards standing in the lobby, I asked my wife what she thought. She said it was one of the greatest movies she had ever seen.

That about sums it up. I have seen better movies (Schinder's List, On the Waterfront, or even Spirited Away - Miyazaki's animated wonderland), but I have never seen a greater movie.

This film recreates the reason why we love movies and going to the cinema. Unashamed, unbounded, over the top, old-fashioned entertainment that casts a spell that takes you out of reality and into a magical place of nostalgic joy. I never thought Hollywood still had it in them after too many years of the graceless, constipated trash pretending to be movies but in fact are artless 'product' aimed at a fickle generation that no longer cares.

Well, they'll care about this one.

Go and see it. Go and see it at the cinema. Make the time. Do not wait to see it on DVD. If you do I hope the disk chews up and burns your Apex or whatever you are using.

What works:

Action - Simply jaw-dropping. Nothing has ever come close to how amazing this movie is in this area and one extended fight scene redefines the whole concept.

Romance - the year's oddest, most tragic love story. Scots don't cry but I came close a few times.

Special effects - Kong is the single greatest special effect yet created.

Acting - Kong is the year's finest leading man and Naomi Watts is simply luminescent. No one has stared into a blue screen more believably.

What doesn't work:

Setting the scene - It takes 45/50 minutes to get to Skull Island. I didn't mind it but it may be a bit much especially for younger kids.

Running time - Three hours and 7 mins is tough on the butt and bladder. Again, could be a problem for children.

Cheese - Some of the effects look unfinished. Also, there are two slowmo shots that make me wonder if Ed Wood possessed Peter Jackson for a few days - they are simply awful.

Casting - Jack Black is both great and completely miscast in this movie and alternates from both states like a manic spinning top.

Little Timmy - If you have kids younger than 5/6 this movie has parts that just might be a wee bit scary for them.

~P. Friel

So there you have it, the debut of Paul Friel's Film Blab. I hope you liked it. If you did, maybe I can convince the old Scot to open his own blog and razzle-dazzle you with his love (and hate) of all things film.

I would just like to add my two cents for my love of Andy Serkis (Gollum in Lord of the Rings). He brought Kong to life and totally entertained me with his grizzly but good-hearted pirate of the seas character, Lumpy.



Alicia said...

Just saw it and I agree. I wasn't nuts about Adrien Brody here, but everything else left me breathless and Kong was a miracle. What's more, despite all the intense action it remained character driven, and Kong's character is spot on without being mawkish or sentimental.

Fran Friel said...

Thanks for stopping by, Alicia. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it, too. I would agree - surprisingly character driven for such an action-type of movie.


Richard said...

Hi there Paul,
I haven't seen it yet but you've whetted my appetite for it now! Keep writing reviews, I love your enthusiasm and expertise.

Fran Friel said...


I'll be sure that Paul reads your message. Although it's dangerous to encourage him (he could go off on a Scottish rant at any moment) it'll make him very happy to know that you enjoyed his review.

It's good to see you, Richard. I keep an eye on things over at Satori Kick - I'll be around soon.

Happy Holidays to you!


Chris Perridas said...

Ask him how it rates with the 1933 and 1976 versions. I'd like to see what he thinks. I haven't seen it, and was shunning it since I thought the '33 was such a classic.

Anonymous said...

Hi Richard.

Thank you for your nice feedback.

I will try and overcome my latent lazyness and do more of this sort of thing :-)


Anonymous said...

Hi Chris.

I have been asked to respond :-)

The 1976 version was terrible in my opinion with one caveat - the creation of a love story between Kong and Ann which although dreadfully overblown gave the story more heart and allowed Kong to be seen as more of a being in his own right rather than an archetypal respresentation of the relationship between doomed but wild nature and human reason, manipulation and colonialisation - in the original 1933 version Ann simply hated and feared Kong.

The 2005 version also is basically a love story but does it far, far better and adds a lot more substance to this tragic tale. What this does is to emotionally update the tale to better fit the sensibilities of our present day culture and times.

The greatness of the 1933 version is cultural not artistic. It has bad acting, one-dimensional characterisation, heavy-handed storytelling, dubious racial stereotypes and possible utilzation of sexual tension and fears of the day between black men (Kong) and white women (Ann)

But in spite of all of that it is simply glorious. This is because it was the first action movie and has soaked itself into our cultural relationship with the silver screen .

So nothing can be better or compare with the 1933 version irrespective of how good or bad the new version is. Does this mean that you shouldn't see the Jackson version?

The 1933 version is proof against the tackyness or wonder of any other version - it is simply one of a kind. So my advice is to leave all of that behind and simply see a work of love by a director at the top of his game, and view if you can the film as a film in it's own right.

It's like the 2005 version is a newly arrived stepdad after the divorce and the fans are kids jealously defending their absent father and determined not to give the new guy any sort of chance.

Try him out - he will never be Dad but he might turn out to be a dependable friend and lot of fun.

Fran Friel said...

Dang, Hon, that's got to be the first step-dad analogy ever used in film critic history. Ah, making a splash for your "new" calling already. And I agree.

For me, also, the new version is a stand alone great movie, regardless of its roots - step-dad or no step-dad.

Thanks for your fine review, Paul!


Chris Perridas said...

I got the audio cd version of the original novel. The end of it had numerous folks, including Harlan Ellsion, Ray Bradbury, and Ray Harryhausen reminisce about seeing the original.

I appreciate the insights.

Ginger said...

Sounds promising (what flick doesn't have weak points?). My oldest son and his buddy are going to see it Thursday evening. If the effects are that solid, I know they'll enjoy it.

Fran Friel said...

I bet they'll love it, G. Let us know what they think.


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