CORPORATE LINE: It is 1933, and vaudeville actress Ann Darrow (Oscar® nominee for 21 Grams, NAOMI WATTS) has found herself—like so many other New Yorkers during the Great Depression—without the means to earn a living. Unwilling to compromise and allow herself to sink into a career in burlesque, she considers her limited options while aimlessly wandering the streets of Manhattan. When her hunger drives her to unsuccessfully try to steal an apple from a fruit vendor’s stall, she is rescued—literally— by filmmaker and multiple hyphenate Carl Denham (JACK BLACK of The School of Rock).
It seems that the entrepreneur-raconteur-adventurer is no stranger to theft, having that day lifted the only existing print of his most recent and unfinished film from under his studio executives’ noses when they threatened to pull his completion funds. Carl has until the end of the day to get his crew onboard the Singapore-bound tramp steamer, the S.S. Venture, in hopes of completing his travelogue/action film. With that, the showman is certain he will finally achieve the personal greatness he knows awaits him around the corner…and although the crew believe that corner to be Singapore, Denham actually hopes to find and capture on film the mysterious place of legend: Skull Island.
Unfortunately for Carl, his headlining actress has pulled out of his project, but his search for a size-four leading lady (the costumes have all been made) has, fatefully, led him to Ann. The struggling actress is reluctant to sign on with Denham, until she learns that the up-and-coming, socially relevant playwright Jack Driscoll (Oscar® winner for The Pianist, ADRIEN BRODY) is penning the screenplay—the fees his friend Carl pays for pot-boiling adventure are a welcome supplement to Driscoll’s nominal income from his stage plays.
With his newly discovered star and coerced screenwriter reluctantly onboard, Denham’s “moving picture ship” heads out of New York Harbor…and toward a destiny that none aboard could possibly foresee.
THE GOOD: This movie is unbelievably exciting, gut wrenching and beautiful. I can’t believe I had trepidations about the outcome of this blockbuster with Peter Jackson at the helm.
Naomi Watts as Anne Darrow, Jack Black as the obsessed Director Carl Denham, and Adrien Brody as the playwright Jack Driscoll all shine but Kong is truly the star. Kong is an expressive, intelligent, lonely beast with real feelings for the beautiful Ann. When protects Ann from the prehistoric animals on Skull Island, and then thump his chest in success, didn’t make me think robot, but affectionately my show-off boyfriend. To see the big guy smile and laugh, alone, makes up for the tad-bit lengthy movie.
But in the end, this movie is about love, and not just action. Between Naomi Watt’s terrific performance and the amazing special effects for King, there is no doubt in mind that the beauty and the beast loved each other.
THE BAD: I can’t think of anything.
“The Volkswagen Toureg & King Kong” – A featurette about the cross promotion of the Toureg and Kong.
“Wish You Were Here” – A poor excuse for a trailer.
To start there is a special Introduction by Peter Jackson.
“Post-Production Diaries” – Director Peter Jackson takes you on an unforgettable journey revealing virtually every aspect of post-production with nearly three hours of exclusive behind the scenes footage. This is a brilliant amount of information. It might even be overkill. Honestly, this is a masterful extra that makes the two-disc set a must buy.
“Kong’s New York, 1933” – 1930s New York comes alive in this fascinating piece that explores vaudeville, the skyscraper boom, the construction of the Empire State building and more. Jackson spends a lot of time qualifying the extra hour or so of the film over the original.
“Skull Island: A Natural History” – A mockumentary about Skull Island with Peter Jackson and his crew.
FRANKLY: This will make a great Universal Studios ride.
+ Meghan Berger