Geoffrey Long
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Kong is king!

Wednesday was our last official day of classes, which brought with it two final presentations and a holiday party that evening at our house. A great day, but a long day – so on Thursday night Ivan, Alec, Alec's friend Hannah, Sam and Sam's wife Amanda all headed down to the Loews on Boston Common to see King Kong.

The movie was incredible. Over-the-top, beautiful, terrifying, and... Well, Jason Kottke sums it up pretty well in his blogged review:

The other thing I was thinking of while watching the film was how easy it is to be cynical about this film. At its core, Kong is a love story between an ape and a can you not make fun of that? Some of the special effects sequences are probably over-long and implausible. The 30s-style moviemaking is ripe for snark. But judging from the reaction of the NYC audience I saw it with, Jackson made it work. Just before Kong runs amok at the end of the film, a character remarks that Carl Denham (Jack Black) destroys the things he loves. There are many possible lessons contained in that statement, but perhaps the one Peter Jackson had most in mind was its application to the cynicsm of Hollywood filmmaking. His last four films have been hugely merchandised, expensive to make, and made him rich, but when you watch them it's clear that Jackson really really loves 30s movies, fantasy, filmmaking, Tolkien's books, and King Kong...and he celebrates the things he loves. As long as Jackson stays true to what he loves, I'm willing to cut him some slack and resist the contemporary urge to be cynical about everything and let him entertain me.

On our way out of the theater, as we were gushing to each other over it like the gleeful little fanboys we are, Ivan turned to me and asked, "So, did you like it better than Lord of the Rings?"

To this I answered, immediately and truthfully, "No way." But then I had to think about why that was my knee-jerk reaction.

To me, King Kong feels like an encore after Lord of the Rings. It's as if a Shakespearean actor turned in a virtuoso performance of Macbeth and were then allowed to return to the stage for an encore and perform pretty much anything he wanted. This in itself is a tricky thing; if Jackson had decided to do a sequel to Meet the Feebles this wouldn't have gone over so well, but his King Kong is far and away the best remake I've ever seen. Is it better than Lord of the Rings? No, but then it can't be. This is only one movie, it's not based on a story with anywhere near Tolkienesque scope, and it's pretty explicitly a comic action film.

In short, I loved it (and as soon as we got home I watched a few production diaries, ordered a shirt and bought the soundtrack – and the soundtrack is amazing given the short turnaround time that the composer had to work with) and I'm now on a crusade to get Peter Jackson to come visit MIT. It's a fantastic popcorn movie, and I can't wait to go see it again with Nick and/or Laura over Christmas break.

Why is the big monkey called 'King' Kong? Because Kong rules!

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