Yesterday, this column reviewed “Jurassic Park,” an action film pitting mere humans against huge ominous creatures. This storyline, unlucky people having to best hulking oversized animals, has long fascinated movie-makers and audiences alike. The popularity of the "King Kong" movies, the first of which was released in 1933, bears witness to this phenomenon. In 2005, director Peter Jackson offered the 3rd remake of the cinematic classic.
This version is set in the early 1930s, when the original first captivated Depression-weary audiences. It stars Naomi Watts as Ann Darrow, a struggling young actress. Ann is offered a role in a movie directed by crooked filmmaker Carl Denham (played by Jack Black). Initially reluctant about the part, she accepts the role when she learns it is written by a writer she admires, Jack Driscoll (played by Adrien Brody). Denham plans to film the movie on the mysterious Skull Island. On Skull Island, Ann is kidnapped, and presented to Kong (played by Andy Serkis), a giant gorilla. Although several members of the crew are killed during the process, they eventually rescue Ann. The greedy Denham concludes that New York audiences will pay high ticket prices to see a gorilla as massive as Kong.
Fans will note many similarities between “Jurassic Park” and “King Kong.” Both plots hinge on the selfishness of an entrepreneur who is seemingly oblivious to the power of nature and focuses manically on how we can make money. In “Jurassic Park,” John Hammond plans to bring the public to the remote island (both films have remote islands) and in “King Kong,” the plus-sized aggressor is brought to New York. Of course, both films are replete with numerous scenes in which environments are destroyed as the beasts fight one another and any humans unfortunate enough to get in their way.
Naomi Watts is great as Ann. Her initial fear of Kong is palatable, but she comes to love him when she learns he is not really dangerous. Andy Serkis is also great as Kong, who is often scary, but grows to love Ann.
“King Kong” won an Academy Award for its amazing special effects. Kong’s face is a wonder as it is at once terrifying but, as we come to see the world through his eyes, quite sad and sympathetic towards the end of the movie.
“King Kong” is an excellent choice for fans of special effects films.