Peter Jackson's first big production since The Lord of the Rings is now in theaters, and it turns out that King Kong is not a monkey after all, it's a turkey! Jackson manages to squeeze a one-hour forty-one minute movie into three excruciating hours, a feat probably reserved to Directors riding a wave of success so formidable that nobody around them is willing to say, "the emperor has no clothes."
Throughout, the story lacks focus, as Jackson constantly spends way too much time on what doesn't matter, obsessing interminably on spectacular special effects (and make no mistake, the effects are amazing, it's just that most of them are extraneous to the plot), grotesque monster fights and elaborate tribal costume and makeup scenes. Even the fighter plane attack on Kong atop an ersatz Empire State Building outwears its welcome. From the outset, I kept waiting for the well-known heart of the story to unfold, and I kept waiting for the movie to get better . . . I waited for three tedious hours – it never did get better, and by the time Jackson found the plot I couldn’t have cared less.
Naomi Watts is a little charming as Anne Darrow, the sometimes-comical object of Kong’s savage affections, but it wears thin looking into her eyes looking into Kong’s eyes -– I felt like an optometrist. If Anne had – quite plausibly – crumpled up dead at some point during her protracted rough handling by native idolaters, dinosaurs or King Kong himself, I would have gasped for a moment, then shrugged, “oh well.” The truth is that I could never bring myself to care much about any of the characters, so it was no big deal when any of them was snuffed out; and when King Kong finally took his famous high-rise swan dive it was a relief to know that I could go home. A better idea is to just stay home. It’s not so bad that I wasted fiftenn dollars, but I can never recover those three wasted hours.