‘King Kong: Special Edition’ is brilliant yet extended version feels bloated

[rating=3]Starring: Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Andy Serkis, Jamie Bell, Kyle Chandler, Lobo Chan, Thomas Kretschmann, Evan Parke, Colin Hanks, John Sumner
Director(s): Peter Jackson
Writer(s): Screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson; Based upon the story by Merian C. Cooper, Edgar Wallace

The giant gorilla roars in 'King Kong'
The giant gorilla roars in ‘King Kong’

I don’t often like to write reviews for films twice, but for King Kong I was will to make an exception. You see, I actually missed the first five minutes of the film when I saw it in the theater. It wasn’t my fault, but the theater — for some bizarre reason — decided to start the film about twenty minutes early. I, along with dozens of others, were calmly waiting on line for popcorn. Someone came out and said it was starting, but no one believed him. When we all finally learned that it really was starting, none of us were happy.

Regardless, the DVD gave me the opportunity to see the film from start to finish. And generally, when I see a film a second time, it moves faster. I even tend to enjoy it a little more, or things that may have bothered me the first time don’t so much the second. Of course, there are also occasions where the weaknesses seem worse, and I notice more problems along the way.

With King Kong, neither of those things happened. I actually felt exactly the same. The parts I didn’t like the first time, I didn’t like this time. The characters I thought were weak, were still weak. The moments I thought were excellent, continued to be excellent. It was basically the same exact experience, with the only different being I knew what to expect.

The bug sequence is simply brilliant. Far more realistic than any other large bug film has ever achieved. The fight between Kong and the three T-Rex’ is simply beautiful. And the entire New York City part of the film is terrific.

At the same time, King Kong’s self indulgent moments are hard to bear. It takes way too long to get to the island, spending 45 minutes on the boat. Peter Jackson so desperately wants the audience to adore Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts), that he resorts to melo-dramatic close ups and slow-motion that get tiresome quick. And the love affair between her and Kong is almost comical by the end. And Jack Black still remains, in my opinion, anyway, wrongly cast for the part. It was difficult for me to take him seriously the first time, and it remained that way this time around.

Now, there was much more on this two-disc “special edition” DVD. There are the post-production diaries. These exhaustively detailed entries are fun to way. I honestly didn’t get through every one of them, but will eventually. You’re also given a look into the design of 1933’s New York City. I really loved this sequence, and probably got distracted by the buildings and bright lights during that portion of the film, but this feature really heightened my love for the design of those scenes. There is also the tour of Skull Island’s inhabitants, which is pretty fascinating.

Rated: PG-13
Run Time: 3 hrs., 7 mins.

Michael Sheridan

Michael Sheridan has written, directed and produced more than a dozen short films under the banner of Maynard Films, and has worked as a writer for more than a decade for websites, magazines and newspapers.

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