Wow. Just wow. Unless you’ve been hiding in a cave for the past six months then you can’t have failed to see the humdrum and buzz generated towards Peter Jackson’s latest epic. I personally, loved the Lord of Rings movies and was looking forward to it. To do a film like this after coming out of the Rings saga is a testament to how ballsy a filmmaker he is. The following will not contain any major spoilers so feel free to read on if you want my take on the movie (I’ve seen it twice :)).
Story & Screenplay: The story is essentially the same as it was in the original. People have complained about the fact that the film is three hours long but this is Peter Jackson and he likes to devote time to characters. Personally I have no problem with long films and didn’t really notice the time going by.
Characters & Performances: Most of the characters are well fleshed out and the performances are generally very good. Special praise goes to Noami Watts who, as Ann Darrow, convinces you of her relationship with Kong. With a character who can’t speak, a lot of the interaction is done with looks and glances and she nails them every time. It must have been painstaking work trying to emphasise that with the CG Kong. I’ve read about people expecting Jack Black to break into comedy mode but I simply don’t see it. If anything he reminds me of a young Orson Welles and makes you despair at his constant drive to come with bad ideas.
Effects: The effects are yet again a tribute to Weta Digital. These guys are at the forefront of their craft and this film consistently makes your draw drop. Kong is fantastically realised and the range of expression they are able to convey is remarkable. Sometimes you have to pinch yourself just to realise that the gorilla wasn’t actually on set and interacting with the environment. Water is still proving to be a bit of a problem but you have to forgive them when there’s such an array of dinosaurs on the island. The V-Rex vs Kong scene is the best of the lot and deserves high praise. The scale of it is immense.
Music: A lot has been made of the fact that James Newton Howard stepped in for Howard Shore just a couple of months ahead of release but he has done a decent enough job. I loved Shore’s score for LOTR so I would have been interested to hear his take on Kong but Howard does an admirable job.
Nitpicking: With a film of this scale, I thought I’d be able to find more to moan about. The CG in a couple of scenes looks like it needs a polish in a frame or two but with a film dominated by CG this is small fry.
Overall, it’s clear that I loved the film and it deserves the first “Tony’s Thumbs-Up Award for Total Excellence”.
Tony’s Verdict: 9/10