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LAist Watches: King Kong

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What should we tell you about Kong? That the hour and fifteen minutes after Jack, Ann, Denham and the rest arrive at Skull Island are not for the weak hearted? That the film is shot beautifully? That there are moments when the lighting is so stark, the simple movie effects so classic, that you wish it was in black and white? That the strongest performances are by Kyle Chandler as the incredibly cartoonish Bruce Baxter and Andy Serkis as the completely animated Kong? All true.

That the three hours is maybe a little too long especially when, outside of the spectacular middle of the film, the human stories are never very satisfying? Also true.

We committed pretty easily to Naomi Watts's Ann Darrow from the jump. Her sad depression era character with an empty stomach but eyes full of hope and humor was compelling and true even while bringing vaudeville to Skull Island but the rest? Not so much. Jack Black's Dennem is never quite villainous or devious enough coming off more as an affable con man than the singularly-determined Captain Ahab he should be. Adrien Brody's Jack is believable but not exactly compelling. The rest of the sailors on that ship? Well, we are presented with several questions about them that, unless we had our eyes closed or were jumping out of our seats at the time, seem to never get answered.

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But all that is meaningless. This flick is about spectacle and popcorn and marvelling over movie magic and a shared scare. We watched it at the NBC/Universal Holiday party in the Gibson Ampitheatre with a good 3,000 employees, friends and family of the movie studio, many of whom have spent at least the last year inundated with Kong. And everyone there seemed completely enamored with the experience.

If you can live, breathe and eat a project for a year and still enjoy it as it was intended, well, that's a pretty strong recommendation for the film.

Our Take: Skull Island, Skull Island, SKULL ISLAND! Even with a couple special effects missteps that took us out of the action for a moment, we couldn't help but be totally caught up in the action. Even with our own personal problems with the story (which doesn't update or alter any of the 1933 version's questionable stereotypes) and our difficulty with movies that are almost entirely computer-generated, we really enjoyed the experience. It ain't the greatest movie of all time but it was pretty darn good.