King Kong was a big ape; "King Kong" is a big movie but only one of them needed to be big. You see whilst the King Kong we watch in "King Kong" the movie is a glorious creation, a big ape of gigantic proportions the movie itself is just too big and at just over 3 hours is bum numbingly long. Oh it is beautifully crafted with scene after scene of story and action all coated in CGI, but it ends up feeling like a lot of padding swelling what is a simple story to gigantic proportions. Of course some will love all these CGI embellishments, the action scenes which go on and on and on but it ends up spoiling the movie for those who want to be entertained through the story rather than visual tricks.
With his latest movie about to be closed down by the studios, film director Carl Denham (Jack Black - School of Rock) sets sail for a mysterious island which he has found on a treasure map. Having talked the films star and a young starlet called Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) to join him they continue to make the movie aboard the ship until they come across a mist laden land called Skull Island. But all is not as it seems on Skull Island as not only are there a race of brutal savages but also gigantic creatures including a giant ape who takes Miss Darrow captive. Whilst Carl comes up with a devious money making plan for the Ape, writer Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody - Hollywoodland) tries to battle his way through the island to save the beautiful Ann.
To my shame I haven't seen the 1933 version of "King Kong" and remember little of the 1976 version but at its heart Peter Jackson's 2005 version is the same. It can be summed up by saying a lost world is discovered where lives a giant ape and that ape is brought back to New York. Of course there is more to the story than that, there are sub plots such as romances and so on but it is really a simple storyline which sees in this case King Kong falling for the beautiful Ann Darrow and ending up protecting her whilst she tries to protect him.
The thing is and one of the many things which annoys me is that to make "King Kong" a movie of epic proportions the storyline is padded out with various scenes. In particular there seems a hell of a lot of build up as we are introduced to various characters as well as covering the journey to the lost world. It makes things a bit heavy going, not in that it is complex or requires plenty of concentration rather that it all ends up as inflated padding. The same with the action sequences, there seems more than are necessary and each of them much longer than is needed. It's all of this which means that "King Kong" ends up a good hour too much and a bum numbing experience at that.
Although the action is padded it has to be said it is also spectacular. Everything is of course drenched in CGI with Andy Serkis donning a suit to be morphed into Kong himself but it works. It most definitely doesn't disappoint and battles with giant bugs or when Ann Darrow befriends Kong are just brilliant. It's just a crying shame that every single action scene goes on much longer than necessary.
As well as the spectacular action, many of the light hearted moments also work. They manage to make "King Kong" often quite fun whilst also almost a swashbuckler. But not all of them work, the rather surreal opening scenes featuring musical numbers over the hardship of the era end up feeling plainly wrong and there are numerous others as well. It makes "King Kong" a bit of a rollercoaster as for everything which is good in a light hearted way there are plenty of moments which don't come off.
As for the acting well Jack Black does a good job of restraining his over the top comic nature to play an amusing but semi restrained Carl Denham. And frankly is in many ways the more memorable performance in the movie as whilst both Naomi Watts as Ann Darrow and Adrien Brody as Jack Driscoll do their best to make the romantic sub plot work it does their characters little favours.
Aside from this central trio well the rest of the cast seem to blend in to the background except for Andy Serkis who not only does a wonderful job when it comes to Kong but also playing the boats cook, Lumpy, a comical creation which seems to have come from either a Tin Tin cartoon or a Popeye one.
What this all boils down to is that "King Kong" is a movie which will please those who just desire visual entertainment with it's countless CGI enhanced action scenes. But for those who expected more than visual pleasure may be left wanting and more than likely with a numb bum as at over 3 hours long it's not only the ape which is big when it comes to "King Kong".