Giant Treat – King Kong;
Suspense Scenario: Munich
In the wonderful opening scenes of the new King Kong, director Peter Jackson recalls the Depression era of the original 1933 movie and he follows the basic story line. But Jackson, director of Lord of the Rings trilogy and his technicians make the new King Kong a feast of special visual special effects – some might say to excess.
Adhering to the 1933 story by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, the driven Orson Welles-like filmmaker Carl Denham (played with intensity by Jack Black) hires a tramp steamer to the mysterious South Seas. Hoping to turn out an adventure/travelogue, he persuades a hungry unemployed vaudeville performer Ann Darrow (the fabulous Naomi Watts) to come along and play opposite B-movie star Bruce Baxter (Kyle Chandler romping through the part). He kidnaps the bookish playwright Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody) and, lacking an extra cabin, installs him in a cage meant for dangerous animals where he hammers out his script.
When Capt. Englehorn (Thomas Kretschmann) and crew exchange fearful glances, and the background music swells, eventually the ship runs aground on Skull Island where they encounter the remains of an ancient civilization, dinosaurs, giant roaches, other creepy crawly foliage, and hostile islanders who capture Anne as a sacrifice to the great ape, Kong (the wonderful Andy Serkis.) At first Kong considers snacking on her, but desperate to save her life, she performs vaudeville routines for the gorilla. Clearly, amused, he warms to her and she learns to sit in one of his gentle hands. She enjoys the view, especially the ravishing sunsets. They develop real feelings for each.
Later back in New York, she doesn’t want to give him up. She must however – atop the Empire State Building where he is fired on and dies. In the final moments, there is a real sense of tragedy as the giant ape comes to his inevitable death. Writer Driscoll consoles Ann.
The excellent set, evoking Depression era Manhattan, designed by Grant Major, occupied seven acres of the New Zealand film studio. (PPG-13; 188 minutes).
Top choice for adult film-goers is Steven Spielberg’s Munich, a richly detailed and thought provoking inquiry into the political, moral and historical ramifications of terrorism and the efforts to combat its scourge. Through the retelling of the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Athens’ Olympics, the story mostly concerns the somewhat fictionalized efforts by a team of five to hunt down their assassins and annihilate them. (R, 167 minutes.)#