This film was phenomenal. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. There was very little doubt in my mind that Peter Jackson knew what he was doing with this adaptation because he is a fan boy. He took a beloved classic and gave it the glossy, shiny veneer of the 21st century. Character development was the biggest change Jackson introduced into his version, but looking at the original 1933 version (Dino De Laurentiis’ version doesn’t count…ever) it was a necessary shift…back then they were delivering a simplification of life to the audience…today’s audience’s are (on some level) able to handle the complications that come with life. That’s what makes this update a real success in my eyes: the improved focus on “beauty and the beast.” Watching the original, I didn’t quite get that focus…mostly because I knew that’s what it was about and kept trying to find it…it’s probably really obvious and I’m just looking to deep. Here, it is easy to find and altogether beautiful to watch. My favorite moment of the entire film is the dream like sequence between beauty and the beast before the climatic battle. It is elegantly done and is just incredible.
What is one doubt that everyone will walk into theatres with? The ability of Jack Black to portray a “serious” role. Except for two (I think only two) scripted moments, he plays the role of Carl Denham with panache and talent many people assume isn’t there (based on his previous film choices). Naomi Watts and Adrien Brody are excellent as the romantic leads and the supporting cast represents the best and the worst of New York in the 1930’s…a bygone era filled with tuxedo’s and Hoovervilles.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention Howard Shore’s music. But then again I have very little to say besides bravo. It fills the movie out almost as much as any other individual aspect as it highlights the sweeping drama at the core of the story.
Ever wonder what happens after the movie? Then check out Kong: King of Skull Island. It’s the story of Vincent Denham, Carl’s son who grew up in his father’s shadow as an archeologist. Having found the map of Skull Island, he sets out to prove once and for all what really happened. The aforementioned character development creates new subplots and back stories that aren’t present in the original and are therefore conflicting with the characters in this book. The best thing to do is to watch both versions of the film (like I said, the ’76 one don’t count) and then read the book. It’s a thick book, but it’s worth it to read every page.
I highly recommend this film.