If there's one thing I miss on fanedit.org these days, it's the news that a new TMBTM edit is in the works. Put simply, he's one of the very best editors to have ever graced the forum, so it was high time that I finally checked out his take on Peter Jackson's epic King Kong.
Firstly, let me be quite upfront with how disappointed I was with Peter Jackson's interpretation of King Kong. Whilst there's no doubting his love and enthusiasm for the original movie and that he carries that through into the passion that's clearly on show in his version, the fact that his movie runs over 3 hours in length, compared to the 1933 film's 1 hour and 40 minutes, does nothing but hinder any chance his movie had to flourish. Instead, it sank under a bloated storyline which attempted to flesh out characters, but only succeeded in making me want to watch either the original film, or the first remake in 1976 directed by John Guillermin. So, a streamlined version of Jackson's movie by TMBTM was a promising and exciting prospect to say the least. Could he succeed in making Jackson's Kong truly roar?
One of the best things about TMBTM's KONG is how much care and skill is taken in the editing choices he makes. It must have been very tempting to remove as much of Skull Island's over long monster sequences as possible, particularly as many of them feel like you're watching a video game (yes, some of the CGI really hasn't aged well) , and while you certainly get the impression that he wanted to trim as much as he could, the key here is that TMBTM only trims what he's able to as he knows he has to concentrate on keeping the flow and logic of the film intact. So, although the scene where the crew are walking in amongst the stampeding brontosaurus is pretty awful, TMBTM knows he has to keep some of it, as there are some crew casualties here. The same applies to the scene when the crew are attacked by an undersea creature - there's some awful CGI here, but again some people perish so logically some of the scene has to stay.
Of course, these are some of the reasons why I had so many problems with Jackson's King Kong. When it comes to his use of CGI, he feels like a kid in a sweet shop who doesn't know or want to stop eating the candy. He just keeps going and going, even though the CGI sequences become laughable and take you out of the film. One of the best fanedited sequences in KONG is the scene when one of the dinosaurs is trying to eat Ann (Niaomi Watts) whilst Kong comes to her rescue... in the theatrical version the sequence feels like it goes on forever and is frankly ridiculous and boring - here, it's quick, more believable and quite beautifully edited. This style continues, with the vast majority of this edit staying on Skull Island, meaning by the time we get to New York and Kong is advertised as the Eighth Wonder of the World, we literally only have about 20 minutes of running time remaining.
This is where TMBTM faces his biggest challenge. By removing so many character scenes, can the viewer believe a) that Ann has such feelings for Kong that she will risk her life for him and b) can we also believe the other love story in Ann's life, with screenwriter Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody)? The answer is not necessarily easy to decide. I'd be lying if I didn't say that having so much material cut which would contribute to both points, does make it somewhat harder to believe in Ann's feelings for both. However, I also think the trade off for a shorter, much more concise and entertaining film, is worth it. I would say that Ann's relationship with Kong fairs better than hers with Jack in this edit. The key in this is that TMBTM ensures that he keeps in the scene on Skull Island when Kong saves Ann from the dinosaur attack and quite beautifully then acts like he wants Ann to thank him. It's a great scene, and Naomi Watts executes it perfectly, making one believe that she now feels totally safe with Kong. Therefore, I feel in terms of narrative, whilst there are some characterisation sacrifices, the edit actually does a remarkable balancing act and still manages to maintain its core key story elements.
By the end of KONG, I was honestly elated with what TMBTM has achieved here. It's another shining example of just how good an editor he is. Granted, there are a couple of frame stuttering moments I noticed, but otherwise for a DVD standard definition version, the picture looked great when I watched it on my 55 inch TV.
All in all, if anyone wants to know just how good Peter Jackson's King Kong could have been, I implore you to seek out TMBTM's KONG. It will be the only way I watch the film from now on. Now, finally, Jackson's Kong can finally roar!
I enjoyed this edit. Kong IS, as promised, a "truly fast-paced adventure" and goes straight to the point. TMBTM's edit is NOT, however, for anyone who remembers little or nothing from King Kong.
Kong is Editing Galore, but with great skill. It is technically outstanding, yet leaves some holes in the narrative (meticulously noted by billy-batson below). These didn't bother me personally, I just had a good time with Kong. Pure adventure with hints of B-movie, more or less. No slow start; Kong opens when things already are in motion. This gave me quite a thrill, trying to remember or even fabulize the characters back stories. Great fun!
Peter Jackson's King Kong is a favorite of mine. I actually *gasp* prefer it to the original 1933 film. The biggest criticism of the film is that it is too long. I get that. It is too long. I don't mind the length, however. I like how Jackson turned the story of the Eight Wonder into an epic. That said it can still do with a bit of trimming.
This edit, however, is not just the result of a bit of trimming. There is a lot of cutting here. I knew before I even watched this edit that I wasn't going to like this nearly as much as the theatrical version and, guess what, I didn't. I'm someone who's big on characterization, and I really appreciated the scenes in the original cut focusing on that. Well, those scenes are gone here. It's bare bones character development and, while it works, we miss out on all the subtleties of the different relationships. As such, I didn't completely buy Jack's attachment to Ann, and Ann's attachment to the titular beast.
But the story moves so fast that it doesn't really matter. While I enjoy the theatrical version much better, I'm quite fond of this version too. TMBTM turned the movie into a fun, mysterious, and rip-roaring 108 minute adventure, and that's pretty cool.
I enjoyed the original film immensely the first time I watched it. Sadly, it didn't have the same charm for me when I tried to re-watch it. Upon subsequent viewings, I found the film tedious and overlong.
This edit removes most of those problems. We jump straight in to the meet of the production, the characters all feel a bit more alive and, when the movie is over, I do not feel I have wasted my time.
TMBTM delivers some of the best edits I've seen, and while this one is far more straightforward than some of his other efforts, it is still a wonderful thing to behold.