Well, I believe it is official that I have seen more movies this year than I have in the last 12 years (at the theater, that is). My parents took the kids for a couple days, so Hubby suggests we catch an afternoon flick. He really wanted to see King Kong. I wasn't too keen on it - it's about a big ape, for goodness sake!
Everyone knows the storyline. A filmmaker (Carl) wants to shoot a film at a previously uncharted and unknown island, Skull Island. In this version, he finds an unsuspecting actress for this role (Ann); travels with her, the screenwriter (Jack), the production crew and the sailing crew to this mysterious, primeval island. The woman is sacrificed by the natives to the giant ape, ape falls in love, is captured and brought back to NYC as a circus act. Yet, he escapes and dies on the Empire State Building, to the tears and heartbreak of Ann.
I went expecting an action movie. However, 15 minutes into the movie (being devoted to character development and background storylines), I thought - this might be more than just an adventure movie. Con artist Carl even lays it out clearly - the movie he is making is not an action movie - it is a movie about traveling to the primeval beginnings. This statement juxtaposed with the young cabin boy who is reading The Heart of Darkness tells the theme clearly. This is a movie about making that journey to the heart of who we are, about the dichotomies within each one of us. Carl is the sleezy film-maker who cannot help but destroy what he loves. He sees the good and the beauty around him, but cannot keep his greed from destroying it. Ann is a Vaudeville comedian, but her heart is filled with sadness and a fear of hope. Jack is the classic hero who only wants to write, but is compelled to be a man of action. Kong is alone, the last of his kind; but is reaching out for another, for community.
Director and producer Peter Jackson shows that the Lord of the Rings trilogy was no fluke. He is a gifted filmaker. His use of CGI technology creates some spectacular action scenes. Yet, it is his gift for story, for creating interesting and engaging characters, for revealing the details - that is what makes a really good movie. I am glad that he has gone beyond the step of LOTR evil/good split. King Kong is a movie where evil and good, laughter and sadness, action and contemplation, isolation and relationship - all reside within each one of our hearts. The actors were solid, the story was good, and the movie remains with you and with your thoughts after leaving the theater.
The movie wasn't perfect - it could have been more subtle at times, fleshed out the relationships a touch more, and deleted 5-7 minutes of the big animal fight scenes. Yet, the journey to the heart of darkness revealed what we should learn - we can rise beyond the most primitive part of ourselves and move to a higher plane. We can be more than we realize we are. Thank goodness it was not just a movie about a big ape. A-