Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Giant Man-Eating Bugs Bore Me!

So we felt like watching a movie last night. This is an increasingly rare occurence, as we're usually too tired or preoccupied these days to tie up two hours of our precious free time post-girl-bedtime. But last night we tied up three hours watching King Kong, and all I can say is that Peter Jackson owes me back the extra hour with which he padded his bloated movie.

Peter Jackson does lavish spectacle well -- we've all seen Lord of the Rings. Perhaps he does better work when he's presented with a plot-heavy saga to whittle down into nine 0r so hours of screen time. But his King Kong is thirty minutes of plot jam-packed into three hours of increasingly distancing special effects extravaganza. A bit of action in a movie gets one's adrenaline pumping. Strata after strata of over-the-top dinosaur stampedes and ape chases and Kong fighting men and Kong fighting three dinosaurs at the same time with a girl in his hand! so ossified our suspension of disbelief that by the time giant insects and spiders and tapeworms were devouring our heroes and one guy was using a machine gun to shoot hordes of scorpions off another guy, we were yawning and checking the time. And this from the people who spent a tense half-hour in a stand-off with a single cockroach just hours earlier. (Now that was a situation with real dramatic potential.)

Oh Peter Jackson. What happened? I wanted to like your movie. But why the character development for the ship's crew who suddenly fall off the screen in the last hour? Where did all the natives of the island come from and disappear to? Why the massive and unneccesary plot holes in what should have been such a compact story? Why couldn't we see more of Colin Hanks' production assistant, who was the only character I cared about? How on earth can anyone make a movie that winds up with me skipping past a scene a guy being eaten by multiple huge tapeworms not because I'm horrified but because I'm numbed by the preceding interminable action sequences? The mind boggles.

Perhaps in my old age I'm getting jaded, but when I chose to spend an evening of my valuable spare time with a movie, I like to be entertained or challenged or at least somewhat involved. Is that too much to ask of the exact same production team that made Lord of the Rings?


John Farrell said...

Yep. It was a stinker all right. All the worse because it had already been remade once.

I don't understand why some more enterprising Hollywood types don't realize the money to be made in going back to the vaults and remaking old movies...that failed.

crankycon said...

Agreed. And you know what else. The. use. of. slooooooow. mooootion. To.




Yeah, that got gold kinda fast. Granted he did that in LOTR, but here it drove to the point of insanity.

John Farrell said...

cranky, you're not kidding. In fact, Jackson lost me by the time I was halfway through the third installment of LOTR. The entire scene on Mount Doom was so ham-handed, I wanted to climb up on my seat and chuck warm tomatoes at the screen....

mrsdarwin said...

What particularly infuriated me was the juxtaposition of one-damn-thing-after-another action sequences with long scenes of people just looking at one another, or the scenery. C'mon, I don't need a reaction shot of every extra within camera range.

Mostly I enjoyed Jackson's cinematic vision for LOTR, even when it diverged from the books. (The lighting of the beacons in ROTK was pretty cool, even though Tolkien described it quite differently.) But the action sequences were still too long for me. Helm's Deep -- half the TT movie! Battle of Pelennor Fields -- they made stuff up to pad it out!

I do have to say that Mount Doom didn't bother me, as I thought Jackson was fairly faithful there to the feel of the book.

Anonymous said...

Have you guys watched the original King Kong?

Last I heard, Darwin told me that he had never seen it.

The original Kong was very ground breaking film for it's time.

I enjoyed PJ's version, but I I think his version is a lot more fun if you've seen the original first. In fact I would add that his version of Kong is aimed at the generation that grew up with it as kids back in the days when your local station would show it all the time (This was in the days before home video and cable TV).

Uncle Darwin

mrsdarwin said...

Uncle D,

We've only seen bits and snippets of the original, but the evening after seeing Jackson's Kong we searched YouTube for the original Kong/T.Rex fight. It was much more thrilling (and, oddly enough, believable) than Jackson's three-on-one blowout. We particularly liked Kong's wrestling moves. The original is going in our Netflix queue.