Wednesday, December 14, 2005

King Kong

King Kong (Director: Peter Jackson)

KING KONG won 3 Oscars:

Visual effects: Joe Letteri, Brian Van't Hul, Christian Rivers, Richard Taylor
Sound: Christopher Boyes, Michael Semanick, Michael Hedges, Hammond Peek
Sound Editing: Mike Hopkins, Ethan Van der Ryn

Jackson did Lord of the Rings, which paved the way for this remake, something he wanted to do before tackling LOTR. This mega-blockbuster phase is what we've grown accustomed to with Jackson, but before all of the hoopla surrounding his last 4 movies, he did some pretty strange, interesting, non-commercial stuff--like the gutter-minded puppet film Meet the Feebles. And then there's cult favorite The Frighteners. He garnered his first real critical acclaim with Heavenly Creatures. And some may know his movie Braindead (or Dead Alive), a horror/comedy I haven't seen. Teaming up with his LOTR co-scribes Philippa Boyens and wife Fran Walsh, these three adapt the original story of Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace, which was the basis of the 1933 classic.

I must say that all of the talk about the box office slump has been a real downer. I have frequently read a ton of wrong information this year. The shape of the story went from "people aren't going to movies anymore and here's why" to "well, people are going to the movies, but 2005 still can't beat 2004," as if that was something to be concerned about.

I'm not bothering with the plot summary on this movie because we all know the story. But this is a movie that is special. It's real special. In fact, it's so special that people who write in to publications like Entertainment Weekly who state that they only watch movies on DVD nowadays will be missing an event on a big screen. This might be OK with them, but it's seriously not worth the hangup to miss this in theatres. I know there are several reasons not to go to a movie theatre in this day and age but if the industry perceives that the average joe is resolute in their boycott of theatres, we will never see a movie like this again if home video takes over. If sitting at home is perceived to be the way of the future, then we aren't going to see a movie that has everything that a paying customer wants out of a movie.

And it's a remake. It's how remakes should be done--honoring the first but integrating ideas that make the new version even cooler. There are so many thrilling, chilling moments in this movie, but ultimately, it's King Kong and Andy Serkis doing his motion-capture work with WETA that absolutely sells this. I asked in the Narnia review, "Are we ever going to beat puppets?" Well yeah, here, King Kong destroys puppets. The monster is so lifelike, that the tragic love story in which he gets entangled (with the luminous Naomi Watts) is all the more heartbreaking. This might be the guy version of Titanic. But women are going to be crying, too.

And so yeah, sure, this is only one of a handful of flicks this year that are worth getting into the car and driving out to go see, and paying the money, and putting up with the cell phones, and the sticky floors, or whatever the reason is that homebodies have decided to link to their entertainment preference. This is the best movie of the year, and you need to see it on a big screen. Go ahead, and wait for the rental, and see if you feel like the home video experience still somehow beats the theatre experience. Perhaps it's been more than a year since you've been, and you don't remember what it was like, and seeing Kong on a small screen will do it for you. Then, so does every other inferior experience seem like gold to you then, and you can't be helped, or persuaded. When the home video revolution that you've been waiting for takes over, you can help yourself to the sixth incarnation of The Lion King, or Charlie Sheen action pictures that he does in between takes of "Two and a Half Men," because you aren't going to see Kong-like pictures when the revolution hits.

So did I mention, go see it? Yeah, go see it.


At 12/14/2005 09:29:00 AM, Blogger PaulNoonan said...

The "revolution," is still far off, but it probably will happen eventually. However, it probably won't happen until home viewing technology equals or eclipses theatre technology and, more importantly, the price drops.

That's only 1/3 of the equation, of course. Big budget film is funded under the model that you guys know all too well, which is that every reel produced is exhibited to thousands upon thousands of people (let's say, for the sake of argument, 1:10,000).

So the second thing that must happen is that movie production and distribution must see their costs drop precipitously, making a 1:1 ratio (or close to it) possible. This is a cost reduction of several orders of magnitude. This isn't happening any time soon, and certainly not with current technology.

And there is a third factor. Home tech must increase in quality at a faster pace than cinema tech (or at least close to it). I don't see this as quite as big of a deal, as home viewing has several intrinsic advantages, that being that it is easy for the consumer, and that it doesn't involve other people. Seeing a movie in a packed house can be fun, but that is not the norm.

When analysts see a "down year" right now and balme it on home viewing, they are engaging in "bubble think." It's the same mindset that led to the tech bust. They see all of this new tech on the horizon, and feel a desire to play it up, but they don't realize that even the best plasma and LCD screen still can't provide the true movie experience, and even if they could, they are still only available to a small percentage of the population.

I'll bet dollars to donuts that movie's have a "surprising boom" next year (regression to the mean).

The "revolution" will come. Tech follows a predictable progression. First, it sucks, it is expensive, and only purchased by "early adopters." It then progresses to "OK," less expensive, better quality, and used by the upper middle/middle class. Finally, it is virtually free, nearly perfect, and used by everyone (see: DVD players, cell phones).

Home viewing tech is still in the early to middle stages of new tech breakthrough. Theaters still have time, and they still have the ability to adapt themselves. Nothing in this competition (and it is fundamentally a competition) is a foregone conclusion.

Oh, and the movie sounds awesome. We're going to try and see it this weekend if we can get in.

At 12/14/2005 12:06:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Yeah, I totally agree that the "revolution" is far off. Reading in today's magazines you'd swear it's going to be here tomorrow, and this kind of talk makes my eyes roll.

I don't know if the urge to stay home is that prevalent among the population, even if the technology and the price catches up. There's something about taking a date to dinner and a movie that's ingrained in pop culture...maybe that will change.

Projection will most definitely all be digital (for the most part) in theatres before home tech gets that advanced. The problem that theatre chains have, though, and that I admit freely, is they have a hard time upgrading. Each chain has tons of screens to their names and they don't want to make expensive changes that they don't deem are necessary at the moment--and hence, they get stuck in the dinosaur age with providing customers with new features.

2006 is definitely going to be a major upswing from 2005. I saw three sets of previews from three different KONGs last night, and in May alone you have movies like MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3, X-MEN 3, DA VINCI CODE, POSEIDON (another remake), and OVER THE HEDGE--all with great earning potential. In fact, the whole summer looks promising for the box office.

And then what will the story be? Oh, "Dramatic upswing in box office; what happened?"

Of course, also, I hope I'm long gone from the business before home video is as dominant as predicted. It'll be a sad time.


Post a Comment

<< Home