Hollywood expects big things from Kong

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 29, 2005

Peter Jackson's imagination is sure to garner more Academy Award nominations for the New Zealand director when Oscars roll around. Jackson, fresh off his acclaimed &#8220Lord of the Rings” trilogy, by all accounts, has created another masterpiece in his remake of &#8220King Kong.”

We all know the story, but here's a refresher: Humans visit un-chartered island, humans run into giant ape, ape falls for blonde-haired beauty, humans capture ape, ape goes to New York, ape climbs Empire State Building with beauty in tow, ape falls to death after battle with bi-planes. Roll credits.

Kong originally roared onto the scene in 1933. Thirties audiences were stunned by the revolutionary stop-motion animation that brought a 25-foot gorilla to life, and Kong was a hit. In 1976, Kong was remade with special effects wizard Rich Baker donning a monkey suit and featured a ditzy Jessica Lange, a hippie Jeff Bridges, and greedy Charles Grodin, as an oil executive searching for his next big barrel. This was the Kong of my era. It loosely followed the original plot. Lange actually was sympathetic towards the monkey (30s actress Fay Wray playing Ann Darrow hated Kong), while Kong climbed the two World Trade Center towers instead of the Empire State Building. I'll always remember the movie posters and promo ads in comic books showing Kong straddling the two towers, crushing an airplane in one hand and holding an artist's rendering of Lange in the other.

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Now comes Jackson's version, which both the critics and holiday audiences are pushing as the biggest Kong ever. No doubt, it's the longest, clocking in at just less than three hours.

While, eventually, I will make my way to Montgomery to see the film, it's sort of a downer knowing how it's going to end. Yes, Jackson remained faithful to the original. Kong does take the deadly plummet to earth from his climactic battle atop the Empire State Building. I've heard grown men weep when he dies.

Grown men weeping over a computer generated ape.

That's the silliest thing I've heard since grown women weeping over Leonardo Dicaprio when he sinks to the bottom of the Atlantic in &#8220Titanic.”

And look how much money that one made.

Kevin Pearcey is Group Managing Editor of Greenville Newspapers, LLC. He can be reached by phone at 383-9302, ext. 136 or by email at: editor@greenville.advocate.com.