King Kong

King Kong


A break from the politics, to talk about what could be the biggest movie of the year.

Before he won a raft of Oscars for “The Lord of the Rings,” before he stunned the art-house crowd with the 1994 drama “Heavenly Creatures,” Peter Jackson, New Zealand’s favorite son, directed a series of demented, low-budget horror films that seemed designed to make people barf. Repeatedly. For Jackson, one of the biggest perks of re-creating “Kong,” which turned him into a filmmaker for life at the age of 9, was the chance to do his own spider-pit sceneâ€â€?and this time show it to the world. He even came up with a way to make the scene relevant: he tossed his two leading men, played by Jack Black and Adrien Brody, into the pit. “I didn’t want to be tempted to cut it if the movie got too long,” he says. “This way, I couldn’t cut it.” Jackson’s take on the scene is deliciously icky, though it might not make anyone retch. Then again, there is this one part where a guy gets his head bitten off by an eight-foot slug. “Well,” says Jackson, “he doesn’t so much get it bitten off. It’s more like his head gets swallowed and digested by acidic juices and it slowly dissolves into a sort of creamy pulp.”

Now is probably a good time to mention that Jackson’s epic, $207 million remake of “King Kong,” is a surprisingly tender, even heartbreaking, film. Like the original, it’s a tragic tale of beauty and the beast. Unlike the original, which was 100 minutes long, Jackson’s version is a Kong-size three hours. “A few people have already asked me why we’re taking twice as long to tell essentially the same story,” says the director. “And I don’t really know. We’ve been asking that ourselves. I’m going to have to come up with a better answer.” May we cut in? The best answerâ€â€?the only answer, reallyâ€â€?is the movie itself. Earlier this month, Jackson invited NEWSWEEK to New Zealand for an exclusive first look at the finished (OK, nearly finished) product, and he proved once again that he might be the only guy whose films are worth getting on a plane and flying halfway around the planet to see. If the 44-year-old Kiwi felt any pressure over following up “The Lord of the Rings,” you won’t find a hint of it on screen. Some critics will complain that the film’s length is an act of Oscar-drunk hubris, but while “Kong” may be indulgent, it’s not pretentious. And it’s certainly never dull. Jackson has honored his favorite film in the best possible way: by recapturing its heart-pounding, escapist glee.

I was a huge fan of the LOTR series. In fact, I have all of the extended versions on DVD and watched the first two extended versions back to back before I went to go see the third in the theatres on opening day.

Am I a geek? You could say that.

And personally, I think this newest King Kong will be bigger than the titular character himself. Why? Because I know Jackson has the moxie to pull off an amazing remake that could very well pose the question, “Which is better: the original or the Peter Jackon version?”

My prediction? The remake.

I hope I’m right.

  • http://Donklephant Leon

    In this decade of remakes and stolen ideas, I think it’s a good idea to remake a couple of classic movies. Why hasn’t anyone considered remaking “The Day The Earth Stood Still”, or “The Incredible Shrinking Man”and a all time favorite “Forbidden Planet”. As you can see I’m a die in the wool sci-fi fan, but all of these movies are great movies to give the minds of people something to consider today. What about having all the technology unworkable(TDTEST) ISM though far fetched can give one a look at the microcosm, and the macrocosm if infinity. What about space journeys of the future that brings us to beings, and a culture greater than our owns(FP)? It would be great to see many good directors today redo a version of sci-fi classics. Too many movies of todays sci-fi genre rely to much on the horror ideas of today of blood and gore, but not good story telling.

  • sk8tergirl

    I’m sure the movie will be great but I read a book called “Monkey” by Frank Mosco that was a Kong thing. It was funny and scary at the same time. This old sailor saw the King Kong movie in 1933 and told these two Princeton law students that it was all wrong because he had been to the real island. So these guys and their entire rugby team go on this journey to find the island and they collect some characters along the way. There’s all this action and adventure and the island has these good alcaholic natives and bad canibals. The giant gorila turns out to be a kick ass clown and you wouldn’t believe the ending. I got my copy from a friend but she said they got it off the internet from Cafe Press. I really recomend it. It was a great fun read.

  • probligo

    I take issue with Jackson being “NZ’s favourite son”. He is up there but as long as Ed Hillary is about, Peter is at least number two.

    Other candidates (living) – Tana Umaga, Peter Snell, and a bunch of others…