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King Kong will rule our hearts!
Arthur J Pais in New York
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December 14, 2005 13:46 IST

Part I: King Kong may be a monster hit!

How big a hit will King Kong be? Read on...

Universal and Jackson's box office is destined to be huge -- Rings or even Titanic [Images] huge,' says the influential movie publication, Variety.

The highest grossing film of all time, Titanic, made about $1.8 billion in 1997.

The last Lord Of The Rings movie -- The Return Of The King -- grossed about $1.05 billion worldwide.

The breathtakingly mounted action scenes and the recreating of 1930s New York pushed the basic cost of the new King Kong to $207 million.

The Rings films in all cost about $270 million.

Some viewers could be disturbed by a few things in the new film.

For one, the faces of some actors -- especially Naomi Watts [Images] and Adrien Brody -- remain fresh even after they undergo harrowing experiences.

And one does not really understand how the giant beast is transported to New York on a rickety ship.

But these reservations don't rob the film of its charm, drama, heart and action.

The movie starts with actress Ann Darrow (a magnetic Naomi Watts, who deserves an Oscar nomination) trying desperately to find a job in the Depression-driven New York of the 1930s. At one point, she is so desperate that she considers, and rejects, dancing in a strip bar.

When she is caught stealing a fruit and is saved of the embarrassment by a rather charming rogue named Carl Denham (Jack Black, dead-pan and very funny), she finds it difficult to reject his offer.

She gingerly decides to act in his film.

Denham is on the run; he has stolen the negative of his incomplete film from the studio. He hopes to complete the film somehow, or at least re-shoot it, with a new script, in a place that is a mystery to the world.

The ship with Denham and his crew has aboard Jack Driscoll (Brody), a writer Darrow admires.

A still from King KongIn some of the film's saddest scenes, director Peter Jackson shows us how Denham has made the earnest Driscoll a virtual slave.

But audiences are in for a surprise nearly an hour later when Driscoll's heroic and noble side is revealed.

Among the other interesting characters on the ship are Preston, a na�ve assistant to Denham, played with promise by Colin Hanks (Tom's son), the ever vain Bruce Baxter (Kyle Chandler) and the cook (Andy Serkis).

As the voyage continues and the real destination -- Skull Island -- is revealed, it is not the crew alone that fears the worst.

For audiences too are gearing up for the terrible, and the arrival of the giant ape.

Meanwhile, Darrow and Driscoll have started to fall in love.

At Skull Island, hell breaks loose, as Denham and Co are attacked by the natives.

The eerie atmosphere on Skull Island becomes more ominous when the outsiders seem to be lost despite their gun power.

When Darrow is captured and is about to be sacrificed, we expect King Kong to save her.

He does, but director Jackson takes his time -- some 10 minutes -- before showing us the full size of the gigantic ape.

For sheer suspense and heart-pounding action, the middle part of the film with giant critters dominating the screen will remain unbeatable for a long time, unless perhaps Jackson decides on a sequel.

Especially thrilling are the scenes showing the horrified movie crew running between the giant legs of the agitated critters, with King Kong's fury adding to the confusion and danger.

The film veers towards tragedy as Driscoll rescues Darrow, and soon, Denham and his insensitive sidekicks plot to render King Kong senseless and transport the ape to New York.

Denham's movie dream by now has gone bust.

But with the giant beast in his grasp, he plans a live beauty and beast show.
And then come some of the sweetest moments in the film when Darrow tries to appease the beast.

Watts, better known for her work in art-house hits such as 21 Grams and the horror flick The Ring, fully explores the opportunities Jackson has given her.

Among the film's haunting images are the scenes in which King Kong, not distracted by nbsp;Darrow's attempts to amuse him, nudges her to enjoy the breathtaking panorama she has not paid attention to.

Among the many hilarious moments are the scenes in New York's famous Central Park where King Kong, with his beloved blond in his palm, enjoys the slippery, icy surface of a frozen pond.

A still from King Kong The climatic scenes atop the Empire State Building are a bit long. Yet, they are suspenseful and moving even when one knows (or suspects) how the film will end.

The chemistry that Jackson has created between the beast and the blond is amazing but one wishes there was better chemistry between her and the writer.

Oscar-winner Brody is a terrific actor, and his muted emotions bring out the suffering of his character. But when it comes to romantic scenes, he cannot whip up the fraction of the computer-generated expression we see on King Kong's face.

If there is some justice in Hollywood, Andrew Serkis (Gollum in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy) should be nominated for an Oscar. He is delightful as the ship's cook but his contribution in helping create a vivid Kong Kong is the work of legend.

Arguably, the film could have been shorter by 30 or 45 minutes. But Jackson's detailed depictions are so colourful (and eerie when the story moves to Skull Island) that it is difficult to take your eyes off the screen.

Offering much more spectacle, emotion and adventure than any other film this year or even this decade, King Kong will rule our imagination and hearts for a very long time.

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