Friday, December 16, 2005

King Kong

Saw King Kong last night. Lots of fun and three hours went fast.
Most important point to make is that I watched this in Russian, so
dialogue was spotty for me and my reaction is more to the imagery I
watched. Overall, I loved it.

Kong is a tremendously moving character and the relationship between
him and Darrow is fleshed out more than in previous versions. Kong's
realization is even more amazing than Gollum. Yes, I got misty at the

There are a few things I didn't like. First, the use of CGI when it is
simply not needed. Having a boat row to shore isn't such a difficult
task that you need to substitute real action with computer imagery.
While Jackson used it to good effect in LOR, he tended to be too
dependent on it IMHO, and in Kong he continues that tendency. I've
developed a knee jerk reaction to the overuse of CGI over the years and
don't see myself softening in that opinion. Every time I see it, it
pulls me out of the story. And sometimes it seems that directors will
create outrageous sequences through CGI for no other reason than they

So rather than using talented stuntmen to stage a raid on a ship, a
raid that could be quite exciting, the film shows some CGI characters
doing utterly impossible feats that pull you right out of the movie.
Impossible? Maybe not but the jerky moves of the computer characters
kept my awe in check as I watched that sequence.

There is an immediacy to watching real human beings do real things.
That's why god invented stuntmen and wires. I'm not asking for people
to die for my entertainment but I think movies can be even more
exciting if they pull back a little on the fantastic settings and give
real people a shot in front of the camera.

And I cannot understand why CGI has the fuzzy look that seems to be in
everything CGI. I assume there is a softening process during rendering
to take the sharp edges off but as amazing as the technology is, it is
still artificial and obviously so. More SETS!

Second, Jackson has a tendency to shoot and edit action sequences so
frenetically that what is happening on screen is simply lost to the
audience. I noticed this during LOR several times and in this it is
even more annoying. Just because new technologies allow you to put the
camera everywhere your imagination takes you, doesn't mean you should.

This may sound pissy but I think Jackson is much better at creating
exciting sequences than actually shooting them. I would love to see
him make a film with a good action director as second unit director
that shoots all the action sequences.

Finally, Jack Black. I've been a fan of Black's for a long time and
he's a really funny guy, but his arching eyebrow, while used to good
effect in comedy, simply became annoying in this. By the time he
delivered the final line, which I interpreted to be the same as in the
original Kong, I didn't take his character seriously at all. And that
is a problem because that final line is a classic.

As you can tell, I'm not a professional movie critic. To look at the
above, it may seem that I am not so enthusiastic about King Kong.
Actually, as I said above, I loved it and can't wait to see it in
English. But it seems everybody is a critic these days so I'm doing my

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