King Kong – USA, 2005 – reviews

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King Kong is a 2005 monster movie and a remake of the 1933 film of the same name.

Directed, co-written and produced by Peter Jackson (The Lovely BonesThe Frighteners; Braindead; Bad Taste), the film stars Naomi Watts as Ann Darrow, Jack Black as Carl Denham, Adrien Brody as Jack Driscoll and, via motion capture, Andy Serkis as the title character. Serkis also played Lumpy, the galley chef on the SS Venture.

Set in 1932–1933 New York City and the nightmarish Skull Island, the film tells the story of an overly ambitious filmmaker who coerces his cast and hired ship crew to travel to mysterious Skull Island, where they encounter King Kong, a legendary giant gorilla. Captured, he is displayed in New York City, with tragic results.

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The film’s budget climbed from an initial US$150 million to a record-breaking $207 million. The film was released on December 14, 2005, and made an opening of $50.1 million.

While the film performed lower than expectations, King Kong made domestic and worldwide grosses that eventually added up to $550 million, becoming the fourth-highest grossing film in Universal Pictures history. It also generated $100 million in DVD sales upon its home video release.

To tie-in with the release of Kong: Skull Island, the 2005 film is being re-released by Universal on Bl-ray, DVD and Digital HD on February 7, 2017.

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Buy: Amazon.com

Special features:

  • Audio commentary with co-writer/director Peter Jackson and co-writer/producer Philipa Boyen
  • The Volkswagen Touareg & King Kong
  • See More of NYC in “Wish You Were Here”
  • 2006 Introductions by Peter Jackson
  • Recreating the Eighth Wonder: The Making of King Kong
  • Production Diaries
  • Post Production Diaries
  • Deleted Scenes with Introductions
  • The Eighth Blunder of the World
  • The Making of a Shot: The T-Rex Fight
  • Skull Island: A Natural History
  • Kong’s New York, 1933
  • A Night in Vaudeville
  • King Kong Homage
  • Pre-Visualization Animatics
  • Conceptual Design Video Galleries
  • “The Present”
  • WETA Collectibles
  • Trailers

The film garnered generally positive reviews from film critics and appeared on several “top ten” lists for 2005, though some reviewers also criticized it for its 3 hour, 7 minute running time.

Peter Jackson was nine years old when he first saw the 1933 film and was in tears in front of the TV when Kong slipped off the Empire State Building. Aged twelve, he attempted to recreate the film using his parents’ Super 8mm film camera and a model of Kong made of wire and rubber with his mother’s fur coat for the hair but eventually gave up on the project.

King Kong eventually became his favourite film and was the primary inspiration for his decision to become a filmmaker as a teenager. He read books about the making of King Kong and collected memorabilia, as well as articles from Famous Monsters of Filmland. Jackson paid tribute to the 1933 film by including Skull Island as the origin of the zombie plague in his 1992 film Braindead.

During the filming of Jackson’s 1996 film The Frighteners, Universal Pictures was impressed with Jackson’s dailies and early visual effects footage. The studio was adamant to work with Jackson on his next project  and, in late 1995, offered him the chance to direct a remake of the 1954 film Creature from the Black Lagoon. He turned down the offer, but Universal became aware of Jackson’s obsession with King Kong and subsequently offered him the opportunity to direct that remake.

The studio did not have to worry of lawsuits concerning the film rights from RKO Pictures (the studio behind the 1933 film) because the King Kong character is held in the public domain. Jackson initially turned down the King Kong offer, but he “quickly became disturbed by the fact that someone else would take it over,” Jackson continued, “and make it into a terrible film; that haunted me and I eventually said yes to Universal.”

Plot:

In the autumn of 1932, at the height of the Great Depression in New York City, Ann Darrow has lost her job as a vaudeville actress but is hired by troubled filmmaker Carl Denham to act in his new film. Ann signs on when she learns her favourite playwright, Jack Driscoll, is the screenwriter.

As their tramp steamer, SS Venture sails to the mysterious Skull Island, Ann and Jack fall in love. Captain Englehorn begins to have second thoughts following the fears of his crew about Skull Island and its strange creatures that have evolved apart from the outside world.

Deep in the southern seas, the Venture receives a radio message from its owners informing Englehorn about an arrest warrant for Carl and instructing him to divert to Rangoon. Despite his attempt to turn around, the ship is lost in fog and runs aground on rocks encircling Skull Island.

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Carl and his crew explore the island to film and are attacked by vicious natives. The sound technician and one of the sailors are killed, and Jack is knocked unconscious. Ann screams as she is captured, and a roar beyond the wall responds. The matriarch of the tribe vows to sacrifice her to “Kong”, a 25 feet tall gorilla…

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Buy: Amazon.co.ukAmazon.com

Reviews:

“King Kong deserves the curiously polarized reviews it’s been getting. The good stuff is great beyond my wildest, most blatantly unrealistic hopes. The bad stuff sucks beyond my most churlish, mean-spirited worries. On the balance, it manages to be a mediocre film even though there’s next to nothing mediocre about it.” 1000 Misspent Hours

“In the original, Fay Wray came to sympathize with the beast. But Watts plays Ann as a seductress, consciously leading the big lug on. Suffice it to say that King Kong has lost its divine innocence. And our response to the ape’s doom, once touched by authentic tragedy, is now marked by relief that this wretchedly excessive movie is finally over.” Time magazine

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