Here's to the Big One

'King Kong' scales new heights for a blockbuster--and falls hard

Hardly Kong's rival for love, Beauty's human suitor (Adrien Brody) is a nice-guy playwright who's content to wait patiently for his crush to get over her endearing animal phase. And if Jackson dares to catch a glimpse of himself in Carl Denham (Jack Black), the film director who'll exploit anything and everything for maximum profit, he strains to withhold such recognition from the movie--the better perhaps to distinguish his Production Diaries, a behind-the-scenes DVD that now looks like the main attraction.

Motion captured: Beast (CG) and Beauty (Naomi Watts) in 'King Kong'
Universal Pictures
Motion captured: Beast (CG) and Beauty (Naomi Watts) in 'King Kong'

Does every era get the King Kong it deserves? Both versions of the past include themselves among dangerous examples of progress run amok, of Western escapade without principle or conscience. Jackson, eager to deliver an escapist balm in brutal times, wants nothing to do with that sort of allegory. Like Denham and any number of contemporary adventurers, this director appears to believe his technology is powerful enough to smooth over the rough edges of an ancient, primal narrative--a misperception as blind and arrogant as the one that holds Beauty responsible for killing the beast.

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