Around 7:30 last night, I clicked around the channel guide and noticed that King Kong was going to be on HD at 8pm. I wasn’t much interested in it as a movie, but figured it’d have some neat visuals. I hit the rest of the movie channels in the guide, and saw that The Station Agent was about to begin.
And, yes, I chose the dwarf over the giant ape. I really enjoyed the movie, and thought all three leads were a blast (especially Bobby Cannavale, who steals every scene he’s in).
Of course, since King Kong is about 8 hours long, I was able to click back to it afterward. I was amazed at how silly the special effects looked: 40-ton brachiosaurs stampeded over a frightened boat crew with all the ‘realism’ of one of those Universal theme-park rides; Naomi Watts gets whiplashed in every direction by The Big Ape while he’s saving her from a T-Rex attack, but suffers nary a scratch; that CGI version of Jack Black showed none of the spark of the real thing, delivering lines lifelessly. I’m sure they did a great job of motion capture to get this simulacrum to look like Jack Black, but I have to chalk it up to a failed experiment in letting the special effects tell the story for you.
(Wait? That actually was Jack Black?)
I actually stuck through to see the climax of the flick (while folding laundry and doing other stuff for a good stretch of it), and that’s what struck me as the big failure with this movie. See, everyone knows how it’s going to end: Kong climbs up the Empire State Building, planes shoot at him, and he falls off and dies. It’s tough to generate dramatic tension when the ending is predetermined (I hear some religions have a problem with this, too).
What you end up with is that aforementioned theme-park ride. Which is cool, if that’s what you’re planning to make, but I’ll bet those Pirates of the Caribbean flicks — actually based on a theme-park ride — are more entertaining than this. It’s not to say the movie wasn’t good to look at — I was interested in seeing Jackson’s version of 1930s Times Square, after all — but I never felt much sense of drama, just thrills.
Give me a pissed-off dwarf any day of the week.