Tag Archives: Andy Serkis

King Kong (2005, Peter Jackson)

I’ll be honest–I didn’t make it very far, considering its length, into King Kong. I sat through a lot. I sat through the opening Great Depression montage, which was shockingly bad. The people who assailed Michael Bay for his glitzy Pearl Harbor gave Jackson a free pass for Kong? It’s obscene. I sat through the terrible CG. “Grand Theft Auto IV” looks better. Jackson draws attention to Kong‘s unbelievable backdrops in a way I can’t believe any modern filmmaker would. CG isn’t a new tool anymore and Jackson’s bad, 1990s video game CG is terribly misused. It’s incompetent.

I sat though the film opening with Naomi Watts, who’s weak. The tone for the film during her scenes seems to have been lifted from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, a goofy cartoon rendition of the 1930s. I sat through Jack Black. His first scene, combined with James Newton Howard’s pervasive, intrusive score and Jackson and company’s script, mocks the original film. It’s stunning how it degrades and dismisses the original–but it later gets much, much worse.

Peter Jackson’s King Kong is pure, big Hollywood camp. There’s nothing else to call it.

I also sat through some of the worst filmmaking I’ve ever seen in a film not ridiculed by critics and audiences alike. The scene where Watts walks up the plank… she hesitates–it’s such a big momentous, life-changing event (something the viewer might know from that lame original Jackson so enjoys mocking). Then it gets worse. Jackson goes to close-up on her feet making the step.

But that one isn’t even the worst I saw. The slow motion close-up of Adrien Brody typing out Skull Island–ominously, of course–with each key getting a zoom, is even worse. Jackson doesn’t have any respect for his own script, which is kind of interesting, I suppose, but not particularly.

Watts and Brody, from what I saw, have absolutely no chemistry together. The fault lies with both of them. She isn’t very good and he looks incredibly embarrassed.

Black’s worse than I thought he’d be. He mugs constantly.

Both Evan Parke and Thomas Kretschmann seem to be good. Maybe their performances crap out after I stopped watching.

Oh, I never did get around to why I stopped watching.

There’s some foreshadowing to the event–the ship, the Venture, is out of Surabaya. I’m nearly positive Surabaya is never mentioned in the 1933 original. The 1976 remake–ridiculed by critics as campy and disrespectful of the original–opens in Surabaya. Whatever, I figured it was a coincidence.

Until Jackson rips off a monologue from the 1976 version. I didn’t let it finish. I stopped the film.

King Kong isn’t just worse than I expected, it’s worse than I could have imagined. Why Jackson chose to remake a film he doesn’t–almost forty minutes in to his remake–appear to have any regard for (save the opening title design), is inexplicable.

His direction isn’t bad. There’s some enthusiasm (but not much) and I’m sure he thinks his CG looks good.

The writing is awful, unbearable as it turns out.

I really did expect to sit through this one when I started it (it’s so bad, I’ve forgotten the last film I turned off). Then, fifteen minutes into it, I thought I’d at least make it until the big CG ape showed up. But there’s no point. It’s complete crap and a spit in the eye of the original. Jackson doesn’t even have a narrative–much less an artistic approach–his Kong exists to laugh at the original.

I know Jackson wanted Fay Wray to deliver the “it was beauty killed the beast” line at the end (she passed away before filming started, I believe). Would she have done it after Jackson spent three hours sneering her version?

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Peter Jackson; written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Jackson, based on the story by Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace; director of photography, Andrew Lesnie; edited by Jamie Selkirk and Jabez Olssen; music by James Newton Howard; production designer, Grant Major; produced by Jan Blenkin, Carolynne Cunningham, Walsh and Jackson; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Naomi Watts (Ann Darrow), Jack Black (Carl Denham), Adrien Brody (Jack Driscoll), Thomas Kretschmann (Captain Englehorn), Colin Hanks (Preston), Jamie Bell (Jimmy), Evan Parke (Hayes), Kyle Chandler (Bruce Baxter) and Andy Serkis (Lumpy).


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Flushed Away (2006, David Bowers and Sam Fell)

There’s something a bit off about Flushed Away. There’s some lazy storytelling, but I can forgive it since the rats aren’t physiologically accurate anyway and it is really enjoyable to watch–no, it’s something a lot more base. It’s obvious no one really cares. Aardman productions used to have passion by default–they were stop-motion and stop-motion meant a lot of time making things work–Flushed Away is CG and there’s just something off in the storytelling’s adaptation to the technology. I’m not a fan of CG–I’ve gotten better about it, much like I got to be a DVD supporter over laserdisc (I’m forced to out of necessity)–but Flushed Away’s problems aren’t in the literal adaptation. The fiancée thought the film was the traditional Aardman style, so it’s a visual fit, but the laziness hasn’t got anything to do with the technology. It’s the damn story. There are some nice moments to the film, but it’s all really pat. Maybe it’s just because it goes platonic… Maybe I’m pissed because it’s a cheat.

Anyway, there’s something great stuff–the casting is real good, particularly Kate Winslet, which surprised me. She’s willing to have a lot of fun and her character’s good, surprising even. Hugh Jackman plays the foppish rat who ends up in the sewer and he’s fine, but almost impossible to identify with for a lot of the film. Not in a bad way, he’s just the butt of the jokes. Bill Nighy is great as a thug rat, big shock, but Jean Reno is wasted. Not because his character is “Le Frog” (get it?), but because it’s Jean Reno and that casting is supposed to mean something. It doesn’t. He’s just a French guy.

If you do see the film–and I do recommend it, I’ll probably buy it because it is a pleasant diversion–and you notice there are characters missing from the trailer (I guess Aardman found it easier to produce scenes to cut on computer instead of in reality), you’re not alone. In fact, you’re seeing the big problem with Flushed Away. It’s too short (IMDb says eighty-four minutes and I say long credits) and it’s too slight. It’s an exercise in amusement, nothing more.

CREDITS

2/4★★

Directed by David Bowers and Sam Fell; written by Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais, Christopher Lloyd, Joe Keenan and William Davies, based on a story by Fell, Peter Lord, Clement and La Frenais; edited by John Venzon; music by Harry Gregson-Williams; production designer, David A.S. James; produced by Cecil Kramer, Lord and David Sproxton; released by Paramount Pictures.

Starring Hugh Jackman (Roddy), Kate Winslet (Rita), Ian McKellen (the Toad), Jean Reno (le Frog), Bill Nighy (Whitey), Andy Serkis (Spike), Shane Richie (Sid), Kathy Burke (Rita’s Mum), David Suchet (Rita’s Dad) and Miriam Margolyes (Rita’s Grandma).


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