Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Kong

The 187 minute movie is really good.
The 16 minutes of ads in front of it nearly had the audience rioting.

Today I want to look at pacing - the art of showing the audience what they want to see, when they want to see it.

I loved the first half of Act 1: New York, setting up the characters of Ann and Denham & the race against time. All great stuff.

Once the SS. Venture (the ship transporting back the T-Rex in Jurassic Park 2 had the same name) set sail, I felt the ship should have reached the island about 5 minutes earlier than it did. This feeling started just before the happy-happy Ann dancing a jig while engines pump montage. What I'd do - cut the Jimmy/Hayes stuff with the library book, cut the montage, look for other extraneous bits to trim.

However, just after they set foot on the island, I actually forgot that Kong was about to show up. I was utterly absorbed in what was happening on-screen, rather than what was going to happen next.

Second big pacing problem for me - I felt that Jack should reach Kong about 5 minutes earlier. Isolating the moment that I started feeling this is a little harder, as is finding material to cut or trim (after all I've only seen the movie once). However, I'm pretty sure there are some Jimmy/Hayes moments that could go.

The Jimmy & Hayes relationship has its problems. The main one is that their relationship is never given an interesting shape. Towards the end of it, I caught the hint of Haye's having a paternal love and protectiveness for his surrogate son. If that's the subtext the writers were playing with, it could have been made clearer and more engaging.

Second problem is that The Heart of Darkness stuff is never followed through as a thematic device. It's raised, discussed but never really shown dramatically (as far as I can tell - again from a first viewing). It does give the writers the opportunity to slip in a fantastic line of meta-commentary about the film itself ("It isn't an adventure story, is it?") but I don't think that justifies the material's existence.

However, Jimmy and Hayes provide a source of conflict on the Venture, confronting Denham about his plans. The script is right to do that & Jimmy and Hayes are good characters to do that with. So I'm not arguing for their removal; just a more effective portrayal of their relationship.

I have other - tinier - problems, but that's enough of that. Next post about Kong, I'll talk about the many, many things I loved. To start with - the loneliness of Kong. Yes, I cried during *that* scene in New York. I was really happy that the big ape had finally found happiness.
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