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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Two Islands

King Kong, as has been noted by others concerning its earlier versions, is a tale of two islands. Peter Jackson's version gets off to an uneven start that had me concerned. But that part is on an island inhabited by people well known for talking too much. And pesky dialogue keeps getting in the way. The talk [wrongheaded, just off-key enough to be a bother] continues to be a problem on a longish boat ride.
Then the movie reaches the other island. You'll have to be patient, as this takes nearly an hour. But at that point, one of the most amazing experiences in the history of movies begins. And it doesn't let up until we're back on that first island--just for a few minutes when dialogue again threatens to throw everything out of joint. But the magic resumes, rolling toward the ending you know is coming, but in this version has far more impact than you can imagine.

There are several remarkably effective pauses for lyricism in the midst of the astonishing action sequences. I think this movie is a flawed near-masterpiece. I can't explain why Jackson and his collaborators, so sure-footed in material as disparate as The Lord of the Rings and Heavenly Creatures, can't find a tone for 1930s New Yorkers to speak in effectively. There are also a couple of casting problems that mar several scenes. [Naomi Watts, on the other hand, is very fine in a difficult role.] But when a storyteller this ingenious gets down to work, you may not mind much. See it on the largest screen you can find. Soon.

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