One of those days where I am tempted to take up a career as a landscape gardener. Details tomorrow, perhaps; I need to take a day away and think. Has nothing to do with the Strib – heck, I turned in three pieces this morning, and liked each one. No, this I something else, but why bore you with that when I can bore you with this?

Saw Kong, finally.  As for the inevitable sequel: Why not move the final battle to space, where they can breathe, and we can hear the sound of fists striking fur? Because I’m sure that sounds really loud. Just don’t worry about showing how Kong came back to life, made it to Florida and stowed aboard a shuttle, because if we can believe the crew of the “Venture” hoisted the ape on board  - after losing half the crew – and kept him doped up right to the moment where they cleared Ellis Island, we’ll believe anything.

Problem is, I didn’t believe anything. I’m willing to suspend disbelief both piecemeal and wholesale; if a movie requires me to believe that Bruce Willis can fight terrorists on a skyscraper for a night, well, fine. If the Lord of the Rings asks that I believe in ghost riders and evil rings and magic and elves, fine. But don’t ask me to believe that Bruce Willis can take six bullets to the brain, or that Hobbits can grow wings and pee fire, unless you’ve previously set them up as a wing-growing, fire-peeing species. Be careful, in other words. If you want me to believe that someone with no weapons training can use a machine gun to shoot the bugs off someone who’s moving around, okay: you’ve spent all your chits. Unless you don’t expect me to believe anything, in which case: why did you make this movie? Because I don’t care.

Take the battle with the T-Rexes. (Three!)  Kong saves whatsername from a T-Rex, who’s just abandoned a nice big freshly-killed fellow-saur to run after what would, in Rex dining terms, be a breadstick. He chases her down through the forest, which she nimbly negotiates, but just as he’s about to eat her – he pauses, of course, to roar, one of those little ticks that evolution finely honed in their predatory instincts – Kong comes flying from the County of God-Knows-Where and picks her up, violently whipping her around, snapping her neck and pureeing several internal organs . . . no, strike that, she’s okay. So he battles the T-Rex, and then another one shows up, and everyone’s Kong Fu Fighting, his moves are fast as lightning, et cetera, until ANOTHER T-Rex shows up.

Kong pretty much dusts the guys, even though he takes a couple of bites on the arm – he shakes it off! He’s okay, folks! T-Rex teeth, which are capable of cutting through a fresh battleship, have no power over monkey skin. Then he pushes them down a slope and they go falling off a cliff, but he falls too, with Faye Rae screaming her head off, but vines cushion the blow. Yes, vines! Special lost-world vines capable of holding twenty tons of ape. Did I say 20? Make that 60, because two T-Rexes are also caught in the vines, and then there’s another fight for, oh, sixteen minutes or so. Eventually everyone falls to the ground and there’s another 48 minute battle, and at the end that’s when the blonde realizes that Kong has saved her, and she loves him.

Yes. She loves him. The heroine and the ape have special moments together. They watch a sunset. (The sun is an odd thing in this movie – it goes down only to pop right back up again; Kong begins his rampage on 46th street at about 9 PM and ends up dying on the Empire State Building at sunrise; I don’t care how bad traffic is, it doesn’t take nine hours to get to 34th street. Gravity also works in an odd fashion; it’s sunrise when Kong falls off the ESB, but mid morning when he hits the pavement. So I guess gravity is lesser around there, which explains why he took so long to reach the ground, and why he landed intact instead of blowing fur and monkey guts for a six-block radius.) They ice skate together – a scene that would stand as one of the more embarrassing moments of modern cinema had not Naomi Watt’s vaudeville-routine-for-Kong set that standard a few hours earlier. (She even does the walk-like-an-Egyptian move.) At the end she tries to save the big lug from a swarm of the giant ape’s most fearsome predator, Period Aircraft. Here I must give advice to the younge women in the audience:

If ever you find yourself in a flimsy gown standing on top of the Empire State Building under the crotch of a giant ape, screaming at the airplanes to leave him alone, your life has taken a wrong turn somewhere. Possibly at the 93rd floor. Possibly at 42nd street. Possibly at the point where you got on the tramp steamer to sail to the Pacific because you met a “movie director” on the street 45 minutes before. It all depends. There were signs along the way. But that standing-on-top-under-the-ape routine is the clincher, hon.

We’re meant to feel bad when Kong dies – and gee, I hope I didn’t ruin anything – because Jackson slows the speed, cuts the sound, lays on the cut-rate Enya, which is supposed to translate to Heart-Piercing Emotional Impact, but all it does is go back in time and ruin the similar approach in Lord of the Rings; if ever I see those movies again, and I see the ol’ slo-mo w/ mournful vague Celt vocalist regretting something or other trick, I will think, well, he pulled this shite with Kong, too, and  that was  huffed-up twaddle; wonder if this might be, too.

No. I still like the LOTR movies, except for the last  16 hours of the third one; for heaven’s sake, I was ready to kick Frodo into the fire and stick the ring on Gollum’s slimy finger just to be done with it, and if I’d know there would be hobbits jumping-and-hugging-in-bed afterwards, and that the movie still wouldn’t be over for another fortnight, I would have ordered up a jeraboam of Visine for Sauron, the better for his baleful eye to find the hairy-footed little imps and turn them into cinders.

It did go on.

The New York scenes were good, and I wish they’d shown more; Times Square was not entirely accurate, but who cares. At least they showed the 30s in color, as opposed to the sepia-and-farina tones they usually use, as if FDR had confiscated all the primary colors.  My monitor’s desktop is a grand shot of the computer generated NYC:

This shot appeared in the trailer, but not the movie. Shame. Well, I await the DVD, if only for the inevitable featurette about all the CGI magic they performed to bring 1930s Gotham back to life. From what I understand they built the entire city; it’s nice to know it’s sitting on a mainframe somewhere, waiting. Waiting for a much better movie. New Motels - three states added, since they're rather small additions.


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c. j lileks. email may be sent to first name at last name dot com.