Waldlaw Blog

Monday, January 23, 2006

Why I HATED King Kong

On Saturday, my partner and I took a group of 10 boys to see King Kong (no, we're not insane -- it was our younger son's 10th birthday party). Not to mince words, I HATED IT. Let me tell you why.... First of all, it is over 3 hours long. There are very few movies out there that I want to see enough to sit in a movie theater for over 3 hours. I mean, it's just TOO LONG to sit in the dark and eat bad popcorn. Second of all, the dark-skinned scary natives, sort of aborigine-zombie combos, were offensive (I mean really offensive -- how in the world did Hollywood get away with this blatant racism in 2006???), unnecessarily scary for the kids, and unnecessary to the plot. One of these days, I'd like to see a movie where the scary natives are blonde and blue-eyed and wear gingham. Now that would be a cool plot twist! Third, I think the directors got confused about what movie they were making. Or maybe they are just into making stews -- take a little "Jurassic Park," add a pinch of "Creature from the Black Lagoon," then stir.... Fourth, the directors created a really interesting pair of characters in the African-American First Mate on the ship (I forget his name) and the young Caucasian man he rescued on a prior journey (I think he was called "Jimmy"), made sure we were thoroughly invested in their characters, then killed off the First Mate as soon as possible and never told us another word about what happened to the young man after the boat left the island with Kong. Talk about loose ends! Fifth, and this was the worst part of all, there was nothing in the movie that actually addressed what a horrible story it is. I mean, this group of folks come to a remote island uninvited, capture the giant ape that has lived there for years and is -- without a doubt -- a fundamentally "good" creature, drag the poor animal back to New York for the sole purpose of making a buck, then kill it in cold blood when it acts like the animal it is. And there is NO MESSAGE that this is wrong. NO MESSAGE that the guy whose idea this all was is a very bad man. NO MESSAGE that the military is going over the top when they gun Kong down in cold blood rather than making an effort to capture him and return him to the wild. Instead, it is all played as just an action movie, with no moral story to tell. I saw the remake of Godzilla, the one with Matthew Broderick, and I loved it. I loved it because they explained Godzilla as a creature accidentally created by underwater testing of nuclear explosives -- so her enormity was a direct product of humans messing with nature -- and they stressed that she was just acting like lizards are supposed to act, trying to eat and protect her young, and not being "bad" or aggressive beyond what her instincts were telling her -- the only problem was that she was GIGANTIC, so her behavior had very serious consequences for the humans trying to live around her, so ultimately they had to kill her too -- but you came away with a sense of how wrong the whole thing was. It wasn't just "let's exploit the scary wild animal to make a buck and then kill him when he acts like wild animals act." Maybe I'm overreacting, but there I was with 10 kids, and being with kids always makes me think about the messages they are taking away from the movies they are seeing or the books they are reading -- and I HATED the message of King Kong, to the extent there was a message at all. So here's my advice -- if you want to see a "scary beast" movie, save the admission price on a ticket to King Kong and rent Godzilla (the Matthew Broderick version). Then send me a note and let me know what you think....


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