I mean it was alright as big action-adventure event movies go, but it’s no bar-raiser. Sure, it’s no ‘Kong Bomb’ (as some cynical critics have quipped) either, but it didn’t inspire in me anything like the kind of awe experienced by Tom Coates, and I can’t concur with Kottke’s amazement. In fact, the parts they seem to have enjoyed the most bored me after a few minutes. Also, I hate insects.
In Peter Jackson’s defense, it didn’t feel at all like a three-hour movie (I only checked my watch three times, which is a personal record), yet there were too many points where I was impatient for something to happen to propel the story, which itself fell apart for me in the final act (I had much more sympathy for Adrien Brody’s character than for that bloody monkey; somehow I don’t think that was the intention).
As for the cast? The intentionally hammy acting was a gamble that works, in my opinion, and the cast was well chosen. But in hindsight Jack Black may have been an ill fit. Not that he’s a bad actor or anything of the sort, however he’s pretty much typecast as himself. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is open to interpretation.
On the plus side, though I was disappointed by the footage in the trailer I saw in November, the CGI Kong looked surprisingly impressive (outside of the action scenes, at least). Even better was the New York cityscape that filled the screen at the film’s conclusion. The attention to detail is astounding; I could have sworn it was real. Plus, the philosophical subtext (the whole ‘giant of one world is dwarfed by another’ thing) brought some depth to what is essentially a popcorn movie, though it was kind of hard to miss.
And I confess, I marked out for the ‘Sumatran Rat Monkey’ sign in the background. Nice touch, that.
See also: On King Kong, the Empire State and the dynamism of the city