Saturday, December 17, 2005

Carl Denham's Giant Monster

I saw Peter Jackson's King Kong Wednesday and enjoyed it. I didn't love it but did love parts of it.

The most important thing to know about it is that it's an even three hours long, so lay off the fluids for a few hours beforehand, use the restroom right before, and don't buy a soft drink.

Ann Althouse suggested it has some "especially bad CGI." Call me undiscerning, but it looked OK to me.

David Denby in this New Yorker article, meanwhile, feels that the monster fights "go on forever" as Jackson's "exuberance spills over into senselessness." One attack by a bunch of oversized critters that I found appropriately creepy, disgusting, tense, and exciting was to Denby "kiddie-show horrors" that "stop the movie cold." It all tries his—he likes to say "our"—patience. "Even children," he says, "may feel that they’ve seen it all before." Perhaps I have less discernment than a child, but those were actually my favorite parts of the movie.

I can't remember the last film that had me saying, "whoa!.........whoa!" so much. Everything between Kong and Naomi Watts is charming and poignant, and her performance throughout is a tremendous success, but the stuff with the monsters is the most fun.

Anyway, pretty good movie. I hope it's profitable. NRO's John J. Miller (of course) said, "Skip Kong. See Narnia." Well, OK. If you have to pick just one of the two, I guess I'd say go with Narnia, too. But if you're able to see two movies during the time these two are in theaters, I recommend them both.

If you do enjoy Jackson's Kong, you may find interesting a few articles about it from this past Monday and Thursday in USA Today.

As much as I liked all the little nods to the original, I was particularly intrigued by the last paragraph in this article:
An advertising sign for Universal Pictures, the studio behind this version of Kong, can be spied in Times Square. Archival photos of New York City, circa 1933, showed a promo for Columbia Pictures in that spot. "We did try to make it Columbia," Jackson says. "They wanted to be paid a huge amount of money. So we went with Universal," which let him use a sign for free.
They wanted to be paid a huge amount of money? Really? If that's true, I don't understand Columbia's reasoning at all. Don't companies usually pay the filmmakers good money to get their product or company name in a film? Or at the least, happily accept free advertising? Why would Columbia decide it would be worth more to Peter Jackson to put their company's sign into his movie than it would be worth to them?

One of the articles has a litte blurb with each of the four principal actors in the film. I was surprised to discover there that Andy Serkis—who provided the motion capture performance for Kong, as he did for Gollum in Jackson's Lord of the Rings—also appears in the flesh as Lumpy, the ship's cook.

There's more about Serkis's role as King Kong in the third article. Apparently, for all of the scenes in which Naomi Watts interacts with Kong, her green screen work included participation by Serkis so she could play off him. Then after her part was filmed, he would repeat each scene "with 132 sensors stuck to his face and 60 on his body while 72 cameras shot his every move." Wow.

If Serkis, along with the CGI team, couldn't have pulled off Gollum, Lord of the Rings would have been severely undermined. Peter Jackson was banking on him here a whole lot more. He really came through for him.

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