Peter Jackson may have shed the equivalent body mass of several people in the period between winning the biggest award that any director can receive and the release of his second big project (I’m thinking that carrying all that extra coin around helped lose those pounds), but the release of this is probably his biggest test yet, to see whether that whole LOTR thing was a big fluke. I’d been very optimistic on the basis of the trailers and artwork and now that I’ve seen it I think I was right to – King Kong was thoroughly enjoyable.
WETA once again partially steal the show, and while their Kong doesn’t quite impress in the way that Gollum did a few years back, it’s convincing enough that you’re not constantly questioning whether or not it’s real. Kong is a complete character who you can believe in (I’ll be interested to get the DVD and find out how much of it was Andy Serkis, although the latest Mark Kermode podcast has a good interview on the subject), and the fact that this is the effects house that will be handling the Halo movie fills me with glee to imagine how they could make an Elite look.
Peter Jackson now seems to find it hard to make a short movie with this running at a portly 187 minutes (it doesn’t feel anything like that long), but his fingerprints are all over this. Those who think that LOTR might have removed him from the gross black humour that he made his name with can rest assured, as although this film goes for the more conservative 12A rating, he pushes it as far as he can. Gruesome deaths and creative licence with the Skull Island beasties abound. The performances are all strong, and now that Jack Black has shown that he’s can do a semi-serious role I hope to see more of him outside Tenacious D and comedies.
If I have one complaint it’s that the music was slightly overwhelming, especially in the first half. The grand score suited the action fine, but in the slow first act I couldn’t help but notice it over everything else, which isn’t really what music in a film is supposed to do. Either way, this is the biggest complaint I can think of which means King Kong definitely gets a thumbs up from me.