It’s Time to Rethink Peter Jackson’s King Kong
“History has been too unkind to [director Peter Jackson’s] 2005 film, [King Kong] which should be remembered not as lumbering and mindless, but as majestic and mesmerising,” according to critic Chris Hartwell writing for the Hollywood Reporter.
“‘It was beauty killed the beast.’ King Kong’s iconic closing line, used both in the 1933 and 2005 versions, was cheekily rewritten by many film critics to comment on Jackson’s remake: ‘it was bloat killed the beast’ and ‘it was overindulgence killed the beast.’
“In the years since its release, those criticisms have grown all the louder as they’ve bounced around the internet echo chamber, ultimately condemning the 2005 rendering as a misinterpretation, if not a complete destruction, of the original film.
“Oddly enough, film buffs forget that Jackson’s film was actually well-reviewed at the time, holding an 84 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes. Now, as the positive reviews for the quicker-paced Kong: Skull Island have hit (some of which are taking swipes at Jackson’s film), it’s high time to give the filmmaker’s journey to Skull Island another look.
“Every frame of [Jackson’s] film is designed to lure the viewer anew into an age-old narrative and capture a fresh sense of a classic story’s excitement, which in the 21st century is no small task.
“[Jackson] shows us a near century old story, through a child’s eyes. With youthful glee, he points out a place on the map thought to be nothing more than a coffee stain, a mere smudge that he’s discovered to be bursting with danger, spectacle, and wonder. To him, every rock and every creature is a wondrous reality, and he sucks us into that point of view by having it inform every creative decision on screen.
“First off, it drives the aesthetics. Not until 2016’s The Jungle Book did we again see a jungle so comprehensively created by a filmmaker.
“Second, the director’s childlike perspective drives the scale of this film.
“Finally, Jackson’s youthful vantage point gives King Kong its heart.
“This film conjures up an immensely imaginative, colourful, and vivacious world. It takes a fable that has been passed down from generation to generation and, as it should, grows it in its retelling.”
Original article by Chris Hartwell, The Hollywood Reporter, March 10, 2017.