Finally saw it. I'm with Ken Levine on this one. Peter Jackson shows distressing signs of an incipient case of George Lucas Disease.
Both are great filmmakers and proven storytellers who need to have their hands slapped when reaching for the Bigger is Better cookie jar too often.
KING KONG sports better dialogue than Episodes Crap through Crud (note that it's hard to do worse than "Hold me like you did by the lake on Naboo, when all we had was our love.") but the movie is just as bloated and reliant on oddly ponderous action scenes that feel like levels in the videogame, not integral sequences that evolve the story.
Random thoughts and SPOILERS follow.
Why show just one uber-T. Rex when you can show three?
Why spend two minutes showing the ship neeeeeeearly crashing on the rocks when you can show ten?
Why invent a few kinds of horrible bugs when you can throw a dozen concept designs at the screen?
Uh, because it's boring and dilutes impact?
The Shelob scenes in THE RETURN OF THE KING were far scarier than KONG's bug pit. JURASSIC PARK's single T. rex and mere three raptors created much more memorable, iconic set pieces (Ack! They can open doors!). I saw KONG yesterday and already am forgetting what chase happened when.
The ancient town looked pretty cool, sort of like Osgiliath, post-orc renovation.
Did we need the dinosaur bungee cord scene?
Another successful motion capture performance by Andy Serkis. Most of the emotional resonance in the movie came from the saddest, biggest digitized monkey in the world.
Naomi Watts did a nice job considering that 80% of her screen time is looking in horror at something out of frame.
While I appreciate the nifty twist of having the bookish writer be the hero, I don't know of any playwrights who can rappel down mountains, stunt drive, or wrangle oversize bats. Well, maybe Lillian Hellman, but that's it.
Product placement is somehow cute and quaint when it's period. I hate that I think this.
Plot threads are left dangling like dinosaur bungee cords. What happens to the weaselly actor at the end? And what made him un-weasel back on the island and come back to help save everyone in the bug pit?
Why waste our time with scenes setting up the Little Jimmy subplot then give it no resolution?
And maybe I'm looking for too tidy or modern a wrap-up, but why doesn't Jack Black's Wellesian movie producer come to realize that he's the architect of all this havoc? Why not let him understand how much he's destroyed, and the price of his egotism?
Yes, I know "Beauty killed the beast" is a line from the 1933 original, but when Black intones it I wanted to scream, "It was you, you moron! Not to mention dozens of sailors, natives, and Depression-era extras. Get a good lawyer."
It's no small irony that Jackson appears in a cameo in one of the biplanes that sends the grand ape plummetting onto 34th Street.
Still, Ang Lee's pre-BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN project was THE HULK. I live in faith that PJ can keep his inner fanboy in check and let the story take the reins again.