King Kong – A Movie Review

It is no secret that I have been looking very forward to this film.  I am one of those people that do not subscribe to the notion that we’ve already had two King Kong films, what’s the point of a third?  Here’s my argument to that: How many of us have seen either of the two previous films in their entirety?  Answer: Not many.  I think King Kong is one of the few films that probably should be re-made every twenty or thirty years for a whole new audience.  I mean, I’ve seen the late seventies King Kong and thought it was pretty cool, but that was at least fifteen to twenty years ago.  As for the original King Kong, I’ve only seen clips.  Point being, I applaud Peter Jackson for making a modern day King Kong with modern day sensibility.

That being said, as you may have guessed, I highly recommend this film.  The effects were very, very good, but not always seamless.  The acting was also surprisingly good.  Jack Black did a superb job of creating a character you both loved and hated, and I dare anyone not to fall in figurative love with Naomi Watts.  Brody did a fine job as well, as did the captain and main members of the ship’s crew. 

No surprises in the storyline, as this was a re-make in the strictest of terms.  But, everything was better.  The natives were more frightening, the giant animal fight scenes were more ferocious, the insects were downright creepy, and Kong really felt like a real ape that just happened to be quite oversized.

The CG effects made Kong a hyper-realistic creation, one that conveyed thousands of emotions through his eyes and facial expressions.  I really think the emotional reverberation of this film has caught everyone off guard.  I dare you not to root for Kong even as he destroys human lives.  (Now, whether those lives are innocent is a matter of philosophical debate, one that I will not address.)

Now, I will admit, this film had a rather high cheese content.  I mean, the amount of near misses Naomi Watts suffered at the hands of giant creatures other than Kong bordered upon the absurd, as did some of the endless fight scenes between Kong and (insert creature here).  At times it was too much, even for a movie about a giant monkey.

However, that being said, I still say this movie is well worth the price of admission.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – A Movie Review

I loved this story as a child-adored it, in fact.  My fourth grade teacher read us the complete Chronicles of Narnia series over the school year, and I contribute this, along with comic books and my parents reading to me consistently as a wee lad, to my love of reading and writing as an adult. 

Let’s acknowledge that I had very high hopes for this film.  The previews were enough to make me tear up a bit because of the pure happiness they evoked.  The happiness of seeing something that had only existed in my imagination suddenly thrown onto the silver screen elated the little boy that still very much lives within me.  It was magical.

I have to say that while this film made my heart swell throughout for a variety of reasons, I was not completely enamored with it.  There are several reasons for this, some that have nothing to do with the film, some that do.

First of all, any time something is given tangible form externally from your own imagination, it never lives up to expectations in its entirety.  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was an excellent film, but it still did not match what I had dreamt as a child, and very little ever does.

Secondly, the actress that played Lucy (the youngest) was by far the better of the four children.  I’ve never particularly enjoyed films that starred children (with the exception of The Goonies), and this was no different.  I had very explicit images of Peter and the rest, and none of them matched up.  That, plus the fact that, as stated, three of the four children were simply not very good actors, seemed to drag the film down just a bit.

Thirdly, the voice of Aslan was not the voice I had heard within my mind when I was sitting in grade school.  Nothing against the actor that played him, I simply expected a voice that thundered and reverberated; Aslan is a lion, after all.  The polished, soft-spoken voice that emitted from the mouth of Narnia’s savior was just a little too gentlemanly for my taste.

Now, keep in mind, this film was forced to compete with the remembrances of childhood, and that is a competition that will rarely prove victorious for the opponent.  I know I’m judging the film unfairly, I admit that, but I simply can’t help it.

Now, on to the positives: the special effects of the film were wonderful and primarily seamless.  Bear in mind that much of this was computer graphic animated, and I’d say that they did a superb job of blending the live action with the CG.  Costumes and locations were spot on, and the battle scenes were truly magnificent.  The adults did a very nice job with their acting, and I’m guessing the children will grow into their roles if given an opportunity, much as the chap that plays Harry Potter.

I was satisfied with this film, but I was not awestruck.  I would certainly recommend seeing it; it is worth the price of admission, no doubt.  I believe C.S. Lewis would have been satisfied with this adaptation as well, though I have to wonder what would have happened if they’d gotten a Peter Jackson or a Steven Spielberg to direct it.

Here’s looking forward to many more Chronicles of Narnia!