Flashback Review: King Kong (2005)

In 1933, a motion picture called, “King Kong” was released in theaters. It became an instant classic for its groundbreaking special effects, unique storyline, fusing every genre in one movie etc. Over the years, King Kong continues to influence many filmmakers most notably Steven Spielberg, James Rolfe/Angry Video Game Nerd, Japanese movie studio “Toho” & Peter Jackson. (one of my favorite filmmakers) Without Godzilla, King Kong would’ve never existed. I believe King Kong is the first Kaiju related movie before Godzilla was around.

Before I share the positive & negative aspects of Peter Jackson’s remake, let’s rewind the clocks back to his childhood. It all began when a nine-year-old Peter watched King Kong for the first time. It made him cry, because we all know what happened. The film inspired him to become a director. When he turned 12, he tried to recreate the movie making his own custom model of the big ape. Overtime he read behind-the-scenes books, he bought props such as an animatronic of Kong.

After his movie “The Frighteners” came out in 1996, Universal Pictures supported him to develop his vision of King Kong, but plans were put on hold, due to scheduling conflicts with “The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy” putting his pet project in hiatus spanning from 1997-2003. Peter is known to be a perfectionist using all his effort to bring many aspects of source material as much as he can. Care to explain all three “Extended Cuts” of The Lord Of The Rings movies?

When all three Lord Of The Rings films came out in 2001-2003, Peter eventually won an Oscar for “Best Director” “Best Adapted Screenplay” & “Best Picture” for “The Return Of The King,” which is also one of my favorite movies of all time. Peter finally resurrected his pet project. He rewrote the script since he wrote a first draft in 1996. After adding additional flavors to the script, Universal officially green-lit the film. Peter recruited Naomi Watts as Ann, the human protagonist, Jack Black as Carl Denham, a film director, Adrien Brody as Jack Driscoll, Ann’s love interest & Gollum himself, Andy Serkis as the titular character.

After a year long development of principal photography, post-production, editing, designing Skull Island, Kong & various creatures. The remake was finally distributed worldwide. You can check out Peter Jackson’s behind-the-scenes video diaries available on the “Ultimate Edition” via DVD/Blu-Ray.

King Kong was officially released in 2005. (same year Steven Spielberg’s War Of The Worlds came out) It received positive reviews from critics & movie goers alike. It was also a monster hit (no pun intended) at the box office. King Kong went on to win four Oscars including “Best Visual Effects” at “The 79th Academy Awards.”

With the highly anticipated “Godzilla: King Of The Monsters” coming out on May 31st with Kyle Chandler headlining the film alongside Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Ken Watanabe & Charles Dance. I want to share my thoughts about Peter Jackson’s vision of King Kong. Speaking of monkeys, Godzilla will duke it out with King Kong in a crossover film called, “Godzilla Vs. King Kong.” A follow up to both Godzilla: King Of The Monsters & “Kong: Skull Island” set in a shared universe known as the “MonsterVerse.”

The following review contains massive SPOILERS. Let’s face it, we’ve all seen the classic 1933 film countless times, it was parodied too many times. If you haven’t seen the original, watch if right now, because it’s a requirement before you view Peter Jackson’s remake. For those who already seen both 1933 & 2005 versions plus the one from 1976, feel free to read my review.

Mighty & Weak Aspects

Mighty: The Main Cast such as Naomi Watts, Adrien Brody, Jack Black, Thomas Kretschmann & Andy Serkis all did an excellent job for their respective performances.

Peter Jackson did an excellent job co-writing, co-producing & directing his vision of the classic monster movie.

Peter’s real life spouse, Fran Walsh also co-produced & co-wrote the film. She’s like Emma Thomas who’s a producer & married an acclaimed director none other than Christopher Nolan.

Action Sequences are heavily upgraded packed with epic battles, recreating signature scenes like Kong’s fight with a T-Rex, Carl capturing the big gorilla, a log scene, Kong’s rampage in New York & the infamous fight scene with Kong fighting airplanes on top of The Empire State Building.

Andy performed motion capture to bring King Kong to life. He deserves an Extra Point for his hard work studying gorilla movements as a guide to play Kong.

Fun Fact: Here’s a reminder, Andy later provided motion capture as Godzilla in the 2014 American reboot & he will reprise his role in Godzilla: King Of The Monsters & Godzilla Vs. King Kong.

Ann & Kong’s chemistry takes a humanistic approach. Something like a human treating an animal as a pet.

My favorite part is The Bug Fight which is actually a lost scene from the original. To put the icing on the cake, Bruce does his impression of John McClane (from the Die Hard series) shooting bugs like he’s Tarzan. It deserves Bonus Points for pumping my blood.

Unlike the 1933 version, Carl is really the true villain of the remake. I’m defending this version because he’s a desperate filmmaker trying to earn money in order to avoid going bankrupt during The Great Depression.

Cinematography never suffered from any technical problems.

James Newton Howard (The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, The Hunger Game’s Trilogy, The Dark Knight,) orchestrated music for the film. Every time I hear James’ music, I think of “One does not simply walk into Mordor!” Get it?!

The Tone for the remake is dark as fudge than the 1933 & 1976 versions. Skull Island has some legit “Nightmare Fuel.”

Ann in the 2005 version never screamed constantly in the 1933 version. Thank god she didn’t scream like Dakota Fanning in “War Of The Worlds” or a screaming goat.

The Remake is set in 1933 during “The Great Depression.” A montage shows us the struggle of New Yorkers living in The 1930’s. I’m glad I wasn’t alive in that time period.

At the 1:43 mark, a pug is spotted. It’s actually Peter Jackson’s dog in real life. So he’s a pug lover like me.

Correct me if I’m wrong. At the 2:57 mark, is it me or is that Preston Lacy (from Jackass) have a cameo as a audience member laughing?

According to Jack Black, he based Carl Denham on Orson Welles.

King Kong is one of the remakes released in 2005 alongside War Of The Worlds, “Charlie & The Chocolate Factory” & “The Producers.”

The movie made a meta-reference to Fay Wray. Known as the original actress who played Ann. Speaking of meta-reference, Peter became good friend with Fay, he offered her a cameo to say the last lines. Unfortunately, she passed away. Jack Black eventually said the final words.

A film producer mentioned Universal. The name of the film studio who distributed Peter’s remake.

Besides The Eighth Wonder Of The World, Andy also portrayed a chef named, Lumpy in the flesh.

The Remake did a jab at the original film’s hokey dialogue with Ann & Bruce shooting a scene together on ship.

Hayes mentioned his first encounter in Skull Island prior to Carl Denham’s visit.

Additional scenes including a Swamp Scene & an Extended Bug Fight are in the Extended Cut. Both scenes were deleted, due to time constraints.

A Wilhelm Scream is heard during a stampede scene.

Like Alfred Hitchcock, Peter Jackson himself alongside make-up artist Rick Baker (An American Werewolf In London, King Kong 1976, The Nutty Professor) make cameo appearances as biplane pilots shooting Kong. I’m not kidding, look it up.

Carl delivers the infamous last lines. “It wasn’t the airplanes, it was beauty killed the beast.”

Weak: I know it’s obvious from other critics, The Pacing for the remake is gosh darn slow. The film is 3 hours and 7 minutes long. In the extended version, it is 3 hours and 21 minutes long. Again, Peter is a perfectionist when it comes to adapting flavors to the source material as much as he can.

The C.G.I. feels pretty fake at certain moments such as The Dinosaur Stampede, you can tell that the actors are running on a treadmill behind a Green Screen. Jurassic Park managed to use a combination of Practical Effects & Computer Animation in selective scenes. I’m baffled that “Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith” & “Batman Begins” never won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects.

If you want to see the big ape, you’re gonna have to wait for approximately an hour & ten minutes.

Chemistry between Ann & Jack didn’t feel authenticity. It’s as if their scenes on the ship are trying to replicate James Cameron’s “Titanic.” Rose & Jack’s relationship arc served as the main highlight building up until The Iceberg happened. Felt perfectly executed. 1933 version of King Kong on the other hand, didn’t have to give us a slow pace. It was all about a film crew heading to Skull Island in a fast pace.

I swear to god I am really not making this up fellas. Kong & Ann go ice skating at Central Park. Every time I see this scene, it reminded me of that “Rugrats” episode “Reptar On Ice” or “Robot Chicken” making fun of “Godzilla 1998” with the baby dinosaurs dancing to disco music on a hockey stage. Am I watching an epic action-adventure monster movie or Disney’s “Frozen.” Not The actual film, but “Broadway On Ice.” (no pun intended)

Product Placement featuring brands such as Coca-Cola Chervrolet & Nestlé. I’ll give this con a pass, because there wasn’t any other brand to shove down my throat.

The Final Verdict: B, FOR BANANAS! B-A-N-A-N-A-S! Gwen Stefani please don’t sue!

Despite a few gripes, Peter Jackson’s King Kong is one of the best remakes of all time next to “John Carpenter’s The Thing,” “David Cronenberg’s The Fly,” “A Star Is Born,” “3:10 To Yuma” “True Grit,” “Cape Fear” & “Ocean’s Eleven.” If you want to compare and contrast both the original & remake, go ahead and give both of em’ a watch like a double feature. If you want to immerse yourself in Skull Island, play the video game on GameCube, PlayStation 2 (PS2 for short) & X-Box 360. If you still have any of em’ you’re lucky.

Which giant monster do you want to see win in 2020? Godzilla or King Kong?

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