November 29th, 2005

SilverLinings?

Long Kong Silver

Between the new Newsweek piece about 'King Kong' and receiving my invitation to next week's press screening, I'm officially All Excited about seeing it. I've been skeptical -- I don't think we really NEED another 'King Kong' (like we needed 'Lord of the Rings' -- which we did), and I don't like the idea of remaking classic old movies just because special effects have been improved. And it's supposedly three frickin' hours long. And as much as I like Jack Black, do I really want to see him as the third dramatic (human) lead in a three HOUR movie?

None of that really matters at the moment -- I'm just psyched, and will stay in a state of psychedness until after I've seen it. I'm not going to be a stupidly excited over it as I was over 'Lord of the Rings,' though. For one thing, it's hard to get a sense of whether 'King Kong' can SURPRISE us, give that it appears to be a close adaptation of the 1930s-set story, only bigger. They show him batting at biplanes on the Empire State building in the TV commercials -- can he NOT fall at the end?

I watched the original again recently as geek-research for the new one, and it holds up really well. You sort of remember King Kong the effect as being like a scarier version of the Abominable Snowmonster from 'Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,' and though the stop-motion animation's a little crude by today's standards, Kong really has a lot of heart. (The film suspiciously resembles an uncredited remake of the 1920s' 'The Lost World' film, with a not-exactly-subtle beauty-and-the-beast theme added.)

For me the funny thing about the original (apart from the embarassing half-ape costumes that the natives wear in their 'Kong! Kong!' ceremonies) is this: The whole narrative problem at first is that movie showman Carl Denham can't find an actress to be in his exotic/dangerous location shoot, so he finds starving Ann Darrow on the street, makes her the movie-star pitch, and she goes along with him, then gets kidnapped by a prehistoric gorilla, etc. But why is she the ONLY actor/actress, or indeed any member of Denham's alleged motion production, to appear on the ship, or even in the film? Are all the other thespians, scenarists, make-up people, grips, etc. drunk below decks? Why is Denham REALLY interested in filming her? It's one of those 'Hey, wait a minute' questions.

I do remember something funny about seeing the 'King Kong' remake when I was 12 or whenever. We were sitting in the theater (a group of kids and our moms) and some stranger-kids sat in front of us. The one directly in front of me turned around, stuck his upturned thumb inches in front of my face and said 'Heyyy, I'm the Fonz! Do you like the Fonz!"

But they weren't always Happy Days...
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