RJ Bayley Reviews: King Kong (2005)


By RJ Bayley

Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake of classic King Kong is a funny beast. On release the filmmaker’s followup to his own cinematic classics was rated highly by critics, despite its immense running time. Almost 10 years down the line however and there’s been a backlash against the big ape movie. Is this a valid re-appraisal or simply another case of it being fashionable to dislike something that was considered excellent at the time?

Firstly, that running time. It is appropriately monstrous and could, no should, have had an hour cut off it. It is far too long and the film feels very saggy. There’s not really any area you can pinpoint where the sagging occurs, it’s just overall a very saggy film. The opening is the main offender, going on for huge lengths of time to set-up characters which won’t at all change in the following story. Besides, there’s one character we’re only really here to see.

King Kong himself has to be one of cinema’s finest CGI creations. He’s beautifully emotive and real, and is very convincing when interacting with Naomi Watts. A lot of this is down to Andy Serkis who repeats his Gollum trick by bringing both humanity and the charms of a pet to the creature. Kong is also well judged in the action scenes, being acrobatic while still retaining his massive heft.

It’s Naomi Watts/Kong angle where the film is at it’s strongest. As mentioned there’s something of an elevated pet/master dynamic working both ways between the ape and the human that animal lovers and pet owners will really recognise and buy into. It’s a wonderful quality uniquely expressed, perhaps making King Kong the ultimate pet lovers movie?

It’s an accomplished film with a unique animal/human dynamic. Still, King Kong too long.


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