Sunday, January 01, 2006

Kong vs Kong

How does the new Kong stack up against the original? Peter Jackson make a lot of choices when He made his remake. Some worked, some are questionable.

First an aside - comparisons between Kong and Lord of the Rings box office are dumb. Lord of the Rings was the first live-action adaptation of the 20th century's most popular novel. Kong is a movie from the 1930s that has been reshowed multiple times. It was remade in 1977 plus the Japanese gave the character a good going over in the 1960s. There was even a Kong cartoon show on Saturday morning. LoTR had a lot of pent-up demand. Any demand for Kong came from Jackson's treatment of LoTR. Jackson himself was fairly obscure prior to LoTR. Given all that, Kong has done pretty well but was unlikely to equal LoTR.

Notice that no one bothered to compare Rent with Chris Columbus's Harry Potter box office.

Back to Kong.

They could probably have cut an hour out of the remake and we would never notice. It would still be longer than the original with deeper characters. This could be the first director's cut DVD with less footage than the screen version (but I doubt it).

In the original, Kong was a giant ape. In the remake he is a giant gorilla. I liked the ape better. But using an unknown species of ape, they could give Kong what ever characteristics they wanted.

The modern Kong moves and acts like a gorilla.

It's a lot easier to sympathize with the ape version. He looks a bit more human. The scene of modern Kong shaking Ann while looking the other way must have been based on modern gorilla behavior but it reminds up how inhuman Kong is.

A book on the natural history of Skull Island shows a Kong who looks much more like the original. I'm betting that his look changed during production.

In the original we never find out what Kong does with his sacrifices. In the modern one we find that he plays with them until he gets tired of them then he drops them into a pit to die. No wonder the Fay Wray version screamed a lot.

In the original the two don't bond. Kong is still stripping Ann's clothing and sniffing it a few minutes before she escapes. She has good reason to be afraid. We aren't sure why Kong is so interested in her but he got her scent on the island.

In the remake we know that he liked her vaudeville act. We don't know why she bonds with him. Was it the shared sunset? The fact that he saved her from the T-rex pack? The original Kong saved Ann but it was probably more territorial than caring.

I could have done without the insect pit. It added nothing to the plotline and it went on too long.

The remake added some new characters but they died or vanished from the plot when Kong was captured. They could be cut an no one would notice.

Upping the fight from one T-rex to three was fine but then they made it a three-part fight - on top of the cliff, in the vines, and at the base of the cliff. This was excessive.

Why did the T-rexes want Ann so badly? They were snapping at her while she was in Kong's fist.

Ann trying to save Kong on the Empire State Building seemed like it was straight from the 1977 version. That is not a good thing.

In the original, Denham was a straight-shooter but things went bad. In the remake he was a walking disaster area.

The cast in the remake was really good.

Some movies look better in black and white. Kong looks better in color. Because of the rear projection used for the special effects the original was lots of shades of grey. The remake is gorgeous.

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