First Bounce

Back when I posted a quick review of Peter Jackson’s King Kong remake, I didn’t have the heart to go into detail about why it’s a silly waste of fifteen hours and a bazillion dollars.

Lileks, on the other hand, has no such scruples.


22 Responses to “First Bounce”

  1. Roger Fraley Says:

    Did James think that the new King Kong was a documentary? Of course you have to suspend disbelief about an island in the 20th century with dinosaurs and giant apes. He was right about the last 6 months of Return of the King, though.

  2. LNS Says:

    Yes, I’m tired of movies and shows that ask me to believe anything, like giant apes, transporters, holodecks, ancient South American civilizations who booby-trapped their temples with photo cells, guys who can apparently ride submarines for hundreds of miles by lashing themselves to them with their bullwhips, civilizations in other galaxies who have perfected FTL travel but also drive around in cars exactly like ours and use analog clocks with 12 hours on them (imagine the coincidence!). And oh yeah–movies in which evil empires build death stars with shafts that will, unfortunately, make the whole thing blow up if you shoot a single “proton torpedo” into them–and you don’t aim the torpedo, mind you, you just “use the Force.”

    I HATE it when that happens.

  3. kevin Says:

    king kong was crap, if the movie was good then you can suspend disbelief about all sorts of things but when you watch a movies and you begin to notice Naomi watts makeup changes shot to shot in the same scene them maybe the movie sucks eggs

  4. denise Says:

    I liked the movie, although I agree it was too long. (Confession: we had to watch it in two sittings because that’s life with a baby in the house. Maybe this movie benefits from an 8-hour intermission.)

    I think the Anne-Kong relationship works if you think of Kong as a really huge 20-month-old. Anne’s love for him isn’t romantic; it’s motherly. But I think it takes some really good acting to make it work, and Naomi Watts does. I don’t think I’d ever seen her in anything before, but I was really impressed.

  5. doug quarnstrom Says:

    Hah. I have to admit that every last word of what Lileks said is spot on. He’s right. But I still enjoyed it. He rightly makes fun of the complete idiocy of the Kong battle against the Allosaurse, but it was funny and at least somewhat tense. I think those who got it in their mind to hate Kong have every reason and right to do so. There are abundant reasons to do so…


  6. Chuck Pelto Says:

    TO: Will Collier
    RE: Wrong….

    It’s a great movie.

    If you want to whine about having to suspend disbelief, then you’ll not be going to many movies at all. That includes saying anything good about the ’33 version.

    As for the length, it allowed for better character development than MOST action-adventures do these days.



  7. Will Allen Says:

    I haven’t seen it, and likely would agree with Lileks that it stinks, but I’d rather be asked to suspend disbelief about a 20 ton ape battling three dinosaurs than I would about most plots written that ostensibly deal with the real world.

    The movies I hated the most over the last 15 years or so were Oscar-winners “Dances with Wolves”, “Traffic”, and “Titanic”. Wait, make that four; I really hated “American Beauty” as well. The notion of Kevin Costner becoming friends with a predator which would have eaten his horse at first opportunity, along with the other idiocies of the screenplay, made “Wolves” unbearable. Traffic’s storylines, like the Drug Czar’s daughter being turned out, or the dumbest Federal Agents in history being unable to keep a witness alive, made it unwatchable. By the time Lenny Dicaprio was engaged in a running gunfight with a private eye aboard a boat on the verge of going to the bottom of the Atlantic, I was laughing out loud, even prior to the ridiculous death scene in near-Arctic water. The cliche’ of the suburbs as a festering, hidden, hellish landscape, with everybody a complete boob, is too stupid for words. Nope, give me biplanes battling apes in a gravity-challenged Manhattan any day; at least it doesn’t ask me to buy into the conceit that Important Statements, via the employment of “realism” are being made.

  8. physics geek Says:

    The battle with 3 dinosaurs because, Hey! Three Dinosaurs!, was pretty tedious. I still liked the movie, though. And if you’re going to criticize this version, I hope that you also hated the first one for simliar reasons.

    Whoever created the 1976 version deserves a special place in Hell, so I won’t bother lumping it in with the other two.

  9. MCPO Airdale Says:

    Dino De Laurentis did the ’76 version.

    This one was b-o-r-i-n-g. About an hour too long and all kinds of continuity errors.

    I gave it five out of five YAWNS.

  10. jinnmabe Says:

    I haven’t seen Kong but you were totally right those many moons ago when you wrote about the plot holes in LOTR. I’ve had this same discussion about suspension of disbelief, and someone always pipes in with “but it’s just a movie.” No, it’s just a crappy movie.

  11. Will Collier Says:

    I’m perfectly willing to suspend disbelief if the movie is worth it–meaning, if the story is coherent, if the characters are interesting, etc. The original “Matrix” was a great example. The premise was ridiculous (human beings as batteries), but the overall story was more than compelling enough to convince me to overlook that fact and get into it. The sequels, by contrast, were so ham-handedly written and directed, I quickly started sniping at all the illogic instead of ignoring it.

  12. dorkafork Says:

    I (and I think most of us) can suspend quite a bit of disbelief. But there’s a line between “suspension of disbelief” and “You’ve got to be kidding me”.

    I’m surprised the dinosaurs didn’t just whip out some Jackie Chan moves. Might as well. It was the fight scene equivalent of a Rube Goldberg machine. It’s one thing for the hero to make a narrow escape. But when they make 20 narrow escapes in as many seconds, I end up thinking “just DIE already”!

  13. Julie (Synova) Says:

    Jackie Chan movies are always good, no matter how bad they are.

    Given a choice between watching Jackie Chan and anything else… the anything else has to be pretty good before it’s worth the trade.

  14. richard mcenroe Says:

    I wanted a real monsyter movie this week so I bought Spring Break Shark Attack…

  15. Mr. Lion Says:

    Enjoying Kong doesn’t require the suspension of disbelief. It requires a frontal lobe lobotomy with a weed eater.

  16. RPD Says:

    I celebrate Kong by watching “King Kong Escapes” and “King Kong vs Godzilla”.

    Suspend disbelief? Hah, put it in a box up on the shelf.

  17. ed in texas Says:

    You realize there MUST be sequel…
    ‘Brokeback Monkey’
    King Kong & Curious George (it’s a twofer)

    I’ll stop now.

  18. Julie (Synova) Says:

    I didn’t go look. I didn’t go look. I’ve heard Kong panned before. I haven’t seen the movie.

    But I should have known. This wasn’t just another person panning Kong. This was LILEKS.

    I will never live long enough to get the picture of Hobbits pissing fire out of my head.

  19. Zach Says:

    I got a little pissed off because of plot choices Jackson made.

    a) Watts likes Kong back! This kills the dramatic tension that makes Kong such an archetype. He’s supposed to be an untamable, primordial force of nature who falls for a blonde and dies because of it. Making Watts like him back is just the modern film’s insufferable weakness for draining every plot of every subtext. Fay Wray did it exactly right: screaming all the way up.

    2) There’s too much of a martyr theme going on when Kong climbs the Empire State Building. Every character knows he’s not going to climb down, even Kong himself. It weakens the Kong character because it makes him resigned instead of defiant at the end. In the original movie, Kong could have won against the biplanes! He was doing pretty well until he decided he had to keep Fay Wray safe. The original movie played it straight — Kong fights the planes just as confidently as he faught the dinosaurs on Skull island.

    King Kong was a much more interesting and evocative character in the original movie, in my opinion.

  20. michael farris Says:

    Suspension of disbelief is a part of every movie, especially anything like science fiction and/or fable (KK takes place right where they meet up).

    There’s also treating the audience like gullible fools and/or not having any restraint or judgement about what cool new computer tricks to leave in and which to take out. This strains normal suspension of disbelief beyond the breaking point.

    The movie sort of lost me when:
    – the humans were running underneath the stampeding dinosaurs for three hours without getting stepped on.
    – the dinosaurs just _having_ to eat Ann instead of any number of other large lizards that are part of their normal diet
    – the vines
    – a kid shooting a machine gun at a writhing guy and not hitting him
    – being saved by the captain not once, not twice, but thrice

    There were lots of nice touches, the look of NYC, KK playing with the dead dinosaur’s jaws (creepy and funny at the same time), but as accomplished as the director is in so many ways, he needs to learn that often less is, in fact, more.

    And I thought Naoimi Watts totally rocked. The relationship between KK and Ann doesn’t make any sense in the original, here it sort of (as well as could be hoped for) did.

    But Joe Black was way out of his depth.

  21. Moe Lane Says:

    I think that it helps if you just realize that PJ made a King Kong movie not for the money and/or the fans, but more or less for himself.

    If this sounds critical, it isn’t, really: in my opinion the SOB earned the right to make the studios shell out 218M for egoboo, and, hey, it’s made its money back and then some.

    That being said, it should have been only two hours long.

  22. JSAllison Says:

    After seeing that every fighter in the final scene was marked 1-F-7 I started to question the accuracy of their Ape Model. Oh yeah, that’d make them all aircraft #7 of the 1st Fighter squadron VF1 (The Wolfpack), although they displayed the insignia of VF14 (The Tophatters). Odd thing is that in a shot looking at the monkey over the top of a wing of one of the planes, it had the number 11 on it, which didn’t match with the 7 on it’s side…we won’t talk about fighter squadrons flying two-seaters, more accurate if they’d been in F4B-4s or F11Cs or some such. Anyway, all this throws doubt into the movie’s monkey modelling…

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