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King Kong

King Kong
reviewed by Donald Melanson

March 25 , 2006 | Peter Jacksonís King Kong is obviously a labour of love for the director, which -- for the rest of us -- is both a good and a bad thing. On the whole, itís an incredible film -- a worthy remake of one of my favourite movies and certainly one of the best films of 2005. ButÖ

There are a few instances, and one in particular, where you wish there was someone a little less passionate about the work who had Peter Jacksonís ear in the editing room. The main drag on the film, as many others have noted, is the now infamous dinosaur stampede sequence. Both narratively and visually, it seems out of place in the film.

The scene occurs around the middle of the film and involves the expedition team first out running a pack of brontosaurus and then being overrun by them -- with a couple of velociraptors thrown in for good measure.

Now, one of the main criticism of the critics of this scene is that nothing in the movie is believable -- itís about a giant ape. But thereís a difference between what is believable is a realistic sense ad what is believable within the context of the movie. A giant ape fighting off a T-rex, or three? Thatís believable. Jack Black bobbing and weaving between the legs of stampeding brontosauruses, while carrying a camera, for over five minutes? Not quite.

The other problem with the scene is that the special effects simply arenít up to par with those in rest of the movie, which are astonishing. Again, thereís a difference between the special effects here and those in movies like the original King Kong, which are obviously fake but work because they are consistent within the filmís vision.

But a movie is more than the sum of its parts, and this one scene isnít nearly enough to weigh the film down. And, given the near-inevitable extended edition of the movie, Iíd bet itís one of the first scenes that will be getting some tweaks.

On the whole, King Kong is a spectacle of the best sort. It's big and boisterous but never superficial or hollow. The performances are also great all around -- especially Naomi Watts, who likely would have gotten an Oscar nomination if she'd fallen in love with someone other than a giant ape.

I was only able to check out the standard DVD edition for this review so I canít comment on the special features on the two-disc edition. The only extras to speak of on this release are a short promotional featurette called The Volkswagen Toureg & King Kong -- which is not just a Volkswagen ad, but the making of a Volkswagen ad -- and a trailer for something called Wish You Were Here, which is actually a promotional short film for New York City that you can watch online.

As for picture and sound, Universalís DVD is on par with the best releases of modern films and should show off any home theatre nicely. Just don't be suprised if a super-deluxe four-disc edition comes out a few months from now.

Donald Melanson is the editor-in-chief of Mindjack and a freelance writer and journalist. In addition to Mindjack, his work has appeared in The Globe & Mail, Engadget, and MovieMaker Magazine, among other publications.

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