King Kong

2005, WingNut Films

I've never been a King Kong fancier, although my best friend is, so I'm aware of the loyalty it instills. Nevertheless, in terms of filmmaking, I'd have to say that Peter Jackson—who has never been known for going small—got it right. The love and care he invested in the film is manifest, particularly the period New York City scenes—in fact, those scenes enthrall me. Jackson has also never been known to release anything with less than spectacular visuals, so it was not surprising that Kong was technically flawless. And, in true Jackson fashion, there are copious extras, which are a film student's dream.

       

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Kong: Skull Island

2017, Legendary Pictures et al

Being neither a King Kong fan nor a hyper-action blockbuster fan, I watched this mostly to study how visual effects technology is progressing. In the last few years, CGI has been leveling off: there's not much more that can be accomplished technically, so now its down to the artists pushing the pixels around to create something new and exciting. Yet I was strangely surprised by Kong: Skull Island: it was better than I'd anticipated—when I wasn't really anticipating anything. The reimaged mythology of Kong was somewhat intriguing, and the humanity instilled in the creature was compelling. Meanwhile, the temporal setting and extensive helicopter sequences gave it a distinct Apocalypse Now vibe, which was perhaps to its greatest benefit—in many respects, it was better than Apocalypse. Relentless, over-the-top bloody action notwithstanding, it wasn't half bad. Did not see that coming.

     

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