"We are not ready – are we? – for a movie in which Ms. Darrow contrives to give the ape a tasteful blow-job," David Thomson muses at the Independent, but he’s not addressing cinema’s long reluctance to delve into depictions of bestiality (and the film that goes there will have our full endorsement of being the first in a long time to actually merit the controversy it drums up), but rather attempting some kind of zeitgeist on how audiences, films and family movie-going have changed between "King Kong" the first and "King Kong" the second.
We may never hear the details, but if [Peter] Jackson left elements of authentic terror or adult sexual suggestiveness in his film, those will have been drained away to get the 12A rating. A little fright is OK, but the creative vision will have been tempered to the box office. One large reason why Jackson was personally paid $20m to do this Kong was because in "The Lord of the Rings" – full of dread, combat and potential horror (to say nothing of complex mystical urgings) – he delivered a film that children, parents and grandparents saw together, happily, congratulating each other on what is now a very rare thing – a family entertainment.
We’ve already added ourselves to the pile of "Kong" pushers, but we’d like to say that there are several moments in the film that would have scarred the shit out of our tender little pre-teen consciousness were we still a kid. Of course, that’s part of the appeal â€” we remember crouching behind the couch to avoid having to look at the whole new-approach-to-organ-donation scene in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," but, you know, we always stayed in the room.
Over in the Op-Ed section of the New York Times, Clive D. L. Wynne suggests that the whole thing is about bestiality after all, in the form of test of evolutionary theory. John Walsh at the Independent has some historical context for the original film, as well as background on its two co-directors/character inspirations, Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack.
Joel Meadows at the London Times chats with writer Michael Moorcock, Weta workers Richard Taylor and Daniel Falconer, Ray Harryhausen and Andy Serkis about the appeal of the big ape, while Michael Phillips at the Chicago Tribune insists the film’s most impressive effects are the ones in which it restores New York City to its 1930s state.
And while we’re here and unfocused, we’d like to say that the Skull Island natives as interpreted by Peter Jackson are frightening, ghastly, and about as politically correct as the natives in the original film (they’re only a few steps removed from "Lord of the Rings"’ Urukai). Which is as they should be â€” this is, after all, the stuff of 30s adventure serials, not bearing any more resemblance to reality than a giant, anthropomorphized ape. But it almost seems like Jackson hedged his bets by dropping in scattered, not particularly helpful references to "Heart of Darkness" all over the first half, so that, were anyone to quibble in our more sensitive times, he could throw the Conrad novel at them and say "Bugger off, they’re a metaphor! Like Conrad! A metaphor! For…darkness! And humanity! And, um, darkness in humanity!"
+ Scary monsters – Can ‘family viewing’ ever be entirely innocent again? (Independent)
+ The best family films of all time (Guardian)
+ Let’s go to the pictures! (Guardian)
+ Kissing Cousins (NY Times)
+ The first (and original) King Kong (Independent)
+ The ape stays (London Times)
+ ‘King Kong’s’ secret weapon (Chicago Tribune)