[#] Big Monkey and a blonde

Last night I went to the movies with some guys from church (we left the wives and kids at home, and we went to see King Kong. The good news is that it was entertaining enough to relieve my stress headache. The question is whether I would recommend it.

All things being equal, you can't really make any theological complaints about Kong. He doesn't care about baptism -- at least not in this movie. So what you have to do is walk in there and watch a movie that is supposed to be about ...

yeah, listen: what is this movie supposed to be about? Does the platitude at the end, delivered in a completely unbelievable fashion by Jack Black, "it wasn't the airplanes that killed him: 'twas beauty killed the beast" really do anyting for anybody?

This movie is actually about how real $200 million can make a big monkey look: big monkey running in jungle, big monkey playing with little blonde, big monkey fighting to the death with 3 ravening carnosaurs, big monkey fighting large bats, big monkey killing crew of boat, big monkey falling off tall building and dying. And Kong does look very real in this movie. My only critique of this flick from an effects standpoint is that somehow the monoliths -- the big stone sculptures -- in the harbor of Skull Island looked less real than Kong and his various playmates.

All the creepy stuff looked creepy. The giant insects, the giant bats, the tongue of the carnosaur which Kong pulls out whilst fighting him to save Ann from being dinner. Creepy.

It's not hardly "racist" in that Kong is not meant to be representative of any race. To say that the Skull Island aboriginies are not white is to say something that, in and of itself, doesn't mean anything. How many "white" parts of the world are currently undiscovered? (hint: the smart advocate would say, "we don't really know, do we?" -- but then he can' complain if an undiscovered island has people of an indeterminate race) I thought it was far more offensive to watch the "capture Kong" sequence and realize about 30 seconds in that all the Skull Islanders were, suddenly, gone! They weren't trying to stop Dunham and his boys from capturing their idol, and they weren't trying to help: they were simply missing, even though the white guys had to use their city and their protective wall (which didn't, in the end, offer any protection) to do whatever they were doing. Were they all killed by the ship's captain to make his way back into the jungle?

So if you go see this movie, go for the thrills and spills and really, top-shelf special effects. Please, for heaven's sake, do not go see this movie because it is trying to make some existential statement about love and death or truth and sorrow or whatever. This movie is easily 200 miles wide -- but's it's only about 1 inch deep. I can confidently say that there's not one major story arc inside this narrative that is told competantly.

For example, what was the point of the sub-plot of the relationship between Hayes and Jimmy? It was distracting and empty -- and it didn't pay off the way it was obviously intended to pay off. What was the point of the sub-plot of the "development" of Bruce Baxter? Doesn't his ultimate role in the final act of the movie prove out that whatever we think happened at the island was, in the best case, a fluke in his moral reasoning?

Axwell Tiberius, Movie Critic
what's wrong
with that?!
How and why, in the 1930's, does Ann Darrow know sign language? How does she run in the jungle with no shoes (you try it -- tell me your usually-shod feet don't tear up like tissue paper after 1 minute of flat-out running), and climb a skyscraper in high heels? How can 2 or 3 tons of gorilla fall more than 100 stories down to hard pavement and not explode like a garbage sack full of jello?

Listen: this is not Steinbeck. This isn't even Dickens. This isn't even Lee & Kirby, for cryin' out loud. It's an action movie, and this is the third time (at least) that it has been made. It was cathartic and for the most part true to the original, but for heaven's sake: it's a movie about a big monkey and a blonde. Art Adams' Monkeyman and O'Brien are far more compelling than this was. It's fun, it's a roller coaster ride, it is jam-packed with adventure and gross stuff, but let's not try to call this art.