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Movie Review of Kong: Skull Island

Grade: B-

There have been many King Kong movies over the decades, yet people are still fascinated by the idea of a gargantuan gorilla. This movie at least has some original themes, focusing entirely on Skull Island, and forgoing the New York plot entirely. Neither is there much ado between Ape and Girl – which, honestly, was fine by me. It’s been done. This outing is pretty non-offensive fare.

It also rips off Apocalypse Now to the point past being an homage, but honestly, whatever.

While things move along at a good clip, and most scenes are creatively staged, *Kong: Skull Island* falls short of being more than a mildly enjoyable episode in the King Kong oeuvre. John C. Reilly is the stand-out here, playing the only genuinely amusing character (as you could probably tell from the previews anyway). John Goodman is totally wasted, and Samuel L. Jackson’s hollow role is beneath his skills (although he seems to relish a reprisal of his Jurassic Park line, “Hold on to your butts!”). Tom Hiddleston is lovely to watch, as always, but has almost nothing to do in this story. I liked this film during my viewing, but am already relegating it to the “Only Okay” bin. There are big monsters; there are fights; lots of people die.

What is exciting to us here at RunPee HQ is that the 2005 King Kong film started it all. Watching Peter Jackson’s 3 hour/7 minute devotion to the giant ape gave Dan and Jill the idea to start an app where we would tell people exactly when to pee during a long movie. Jill wanted to shout to everyone in line at the theater to “go” during the unnecessary Valley of the Bugs scene…while Dan bravely squirmed his way through to the end, thinking, “Die, ape, die!” (So, yes, we included a giant bug Peetime in this film for honor’s sake.)

Dan took our rather genius but casual idea, and turned it into an actual phenomenon – resulting in worldwide acclaim and millions of downloads. We wanted to thank you all for being a part of the ride, and supporting this small family business. And thank you, Big Monkey, for being the reason RunPee happened at all. 🙂

How RunPee Began – A Retrospective on Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong

    Peter Jackson, coming off the high of his fantastic Lord of the Rings saga, was permitted to make a really, really long love letter to Kong, King of Monster Mammals. His big ape movie went on and on and on…for 3 hours and 7 minutes. Dan and I sat there, holding it in…and talked about how we wanted to tell the waiting queue to pee during the vile, unnecessary Valley of the Bugs scene (you know the one, with the Andy-Serkis-slurping slugs. Seriously: gross, man).
    It was so agonizing to sit through this film, that we thought it would be great if there was a website telling people exactly when to run and pee in long movies, so no one would miss the good parts. Thus, the idea for RunPee was born. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Peter Jackson and King Kong.
    But, is this a good movie?
    We’d have to say, cautiously, yes. It is assuredly an epic, often capturing the emotional spirit of the 1933 original. Aside from being wildly overindulgent and often tedious, it’s a credible ride. There are some moments of real heart, and the production values are top notch: Jackson clearly spared no expense. When things weren’t busy being disgusting, the island was super pretty. The dinosaurs were cool, and Kong himself looked amazing. Finally, a Kong that looked real, with expressions and nuance.
    The ape scenes with the girl are the best – sensitive and funny, well-acted and well-written.
    The Skull Island scenes, however, are uneven – while everything with Kong was great, the explorers lacked spark or likeability. In New York we get the same thing – the Central Park scenes with Kong and his girl are adorable, but the finale on the Empire State building is laborious. We wanted the giant gorilla to get it over with and die.
    In the end, it’s a bloated movie. The stuffing was overbaked, and the actors (besides Naomi Watts) didn’t bring anything to the buffet. Jack Black was a muddled mess, and Adrian Brody barely made a showing. No one else was memorable at all.
    It’s been my opinion that Jackson needed a firm editor with his material, to pare things down and keep the pacing tight. This was overkill – like no one wanted to be the one telling the successful Lord of the Rings director when to stop. There’s nothing wrong with a long movie – *Titanic* shows us how it’s done – but there wasn’t enough excitement or depth to fill out the running time. There is plenty of spectacle, and you can feel the loving hand behind this remake, but it’s basically a two hour film padded out to an excessive three. ‘Tis a pity, because this easily could have been an A film. But if it had been, there’d be no RunPee.
B-

Movie review : The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones
The Lovely Bones
[ No spoilers ]
The Lovely Bones..Ted Bundy meets What Dreams May Come. I read the book..loved it…then saw the movie…loved it also. The nearly full theater applauded at the end of the movie which is always a good sign.
I came home eager to read the latest reviews. I knew there were three possibilities:
  1. those who read the book, saw the movie and felt betrayed
  2. those who didn’t read the book, but gathered from the trailers that it was going to be a supernatural slasher/thriller and disappointed that it was neither
  3. Then folks like me who read the book, knew what to expect, and was very forgiving for a few plot holes because it was such a pretty movie
I was completely engaged throughout the movie, never felt that one point or another was being beat to death, was impressed with the acting, especially impressed with Rose McIver, her character went from age 11 to 20 and she pulled it off beautifully, not with a change in hair and makeup, but with her attitude. Stanley Tucci was Oscar worthy, one of the creepiest villains ever.
Marky Mark Wahlberg fortunately didn’t have to do much but look sad and angry, same for Rachel Weisz. Saoirse Ronan was perfect for the role of the murdered teenager. We saw her as an innocent young girl, waiting for that first kiss, then as an angry confused murder victim wanting to exact revenge on her killer. But finding that it was more important to help her earth-bound family cope with her death.
Peter Jackson did a beautiful job of not only allowing us to feel her wide range of emotions but to see the emotions through some pretty spectacular landscapes straight out of a Maxfield Parrish painting. Even the cold desolate landscapes revealing her anger showing us the dead corn field and crumbling gazebo were breathtaking.
My only complaint: Susan Sarandon should have been given a much larger role, she was fantastic.

What did you think about The Lovely Bones? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Are Modern Movies Too Long?

Bladder Bursting Blockbusters – are modern movies too long?

As Alfred Hitchcock said, “The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.” Beautifully said and appropriate for most films. wikipedia creative commons film photo

The above-linked Yahoo News Story lists wonderful films clocking in at 90 minutes – Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark – films that would have foundered at longer lengths (like their very own sequels/prequels, actually). Hitchcock wisdom aside, I ‘m not sure 90 minutes is the magic minute number for all films.

The Lord of the Rings films are, inarguably, verrrrry loooong. But the Lord of the Rings book is thousands of pages! Thousands. That trilogy needs the length to explain things properly, and still many of the movie version’s storylines are compressed. Tom Bombadill was eliminated as a plot point – which I am okay with, granted – but when favorite characters like Faramir and Theoden get short shrift, it irks. The poignantly dark story of Denethor was reduced to a joke. Saruman’s film farewell was just unfortunate, compared to his kick-ass denoument in the novel. My point is, the movies could have been even longer in this case, but not shorter.

Titanic was also very well told, despite the seemingly-excessive screen time. It’s a clean story with a good pace; I would have hated to miss any of it. Titanic is long, yes, but somehow stays fresh with every viewing.

The Color Purple is another classic long film without fat. Shawshank Redemption fills its running time nicely; The Abyss is just about right…so, not every long film is a tedious bore.

wikipedia creative commons peter jacksonBut then there are the films that really could have – nay, should have – been shorter. Peter Jackson, fresh off the Oscar success of Lord of the Rings, was granted much too much leeway to directorially dictate King Kong.

Jackson’s overweening Kong story clunks along with frequent gratuitious interludes, like the psychotic bug swamp gross-fest. By the time the gorilla gets to NYC, you’ve long since stopped caring about anyone but the girl, and you wish Jack Black would just die already.

Did you know King Kong is actually the movie that inspired the creation of RunPee in the first place?

We really should make an award for that.

So what is the answer? Besides being armed with a list of good PeeTimes?

Well, directors should hire excellent film editors, for a start – people who know when a story starts to sag but don’t keep you breathless for the whole ride, either. A movie like The Bourne Identity got it right – not slow, but not exhausting. Aliens got it right and so did Pitch Black (even though, once again, their sequels forgot how to tell their stories properly). Finding Nemo is just about perfect. Australia didn’t get it right: sitting through it feels like watching three unrelated, rather tedious films.

What movies do you think are too long? Is it only epic and adventure films that suffer from poor editing? What movies do you think got it right?