Old news but worth repeating: The only times I’ve changed or modified my opinion is when I’ve been overly kind or fawning to a big audience-friendly film, and realized when I went back for seconds that there was less there than initially met the eye. My reaction to Peter Jackson‘s King Kong (’05) was one such example. I didn’t change my opinion about the first 70 minutes, which I flat-out hated. But today, 13 years later, I’m troubld by my enthusiasm for the second and third acts. That Central Park ice-pond sequence in particular. Snowballs, time out, Naomi Watts in a sheer white gown in 28-degree weather…what was I thinking?
DELETED EXCERPT from King Kong‘s third act — page 137 — written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson:
Late evening. A crowd has formed at the southern edge of Central Park (59th Street near Seventh Avenue). A uniformed platoon of New York’s finest have blocked off access to the park with wooden barriers. A distraught middle-aged woman calls out to SERGEANT PADDY MULDOON.
WOMAN: Sergeant Muldoon! I saw him! I saw the ape!
MULDOON: (addressing beat cops) Keep them back, fellas. Nobody gets in.
WOMAN: He went into the park!
MULDOON: All right now, settle down.
WOMAN: Carrying that blonde woman in the white dress. Aren’t you going to do something? You have to save her. She might be dying!
MULDOON: I happen to know he’s not hurting her at all.
WOMAN: But Sergeant…!!
MULDOON: Detective Jackson has just returned from a scouting mission. He’s been watching them, and in fact the ape and the woman are having a tender moment together. They’re playing on the ice pond, sliding around, rolling in the snow. It’s quite touching. So the Mayor has told us to leave them alone until this tender moment is over. Then we can all go back to hunting the ape and hopefully machine-gunning him to death.
A Munich-based critic friend conveyed the following before my first viewing of King Kong: “It’s too long and boring for my taste,” he began. “Actually I have a theory that King Kong is a manifestation of Jackson…a kind of dedication and self-tribute from and by Jackson to himself! It’s a total vanity project. On its own terms the story should unfold in less than two hours, so at least one out of the picture’s three hours is just jacking off. There is one reel containing absolutely no dialogue — just Naomi Watts screaming her lungs out. Jackson knows how to create visual excitement, yes, but he’s too busy proving to the world that he’s the greatest director ever. This is finally a film about emotionless emotion…grand but empty, big but cold.”