All day long, everyone's been emailing me Devin Gordon's say-nothing "review" of King Kong. What's the news here? None, that I can see - except that Gordon was allowed to see the film long before anyone else, and he repays the favor by submitting a non-review, chock-full of loving pullquotes and anecdotes devoid of critique. Here's a sampling what's wrong with this bought-and-paid-for puff piece:
- Why canonize Jackson for recreating a outtake? Curiosity over the infamous "lost" spider pit scene from Merian C. Cooper's 1933 original has so swelled over the ensuing decades, that if the original strip of film was ever actually found, there is no way it could trump 70 years worth of film geek speculation. Jackson made the choice to "recreate" the scene for his version of Kong, this time including his stars in the shot - or, as Gordon rhapsodizes, "He even came up with a way to make the scene relevant." (His italics, not mine.) Gordon wants us to applaud Jackson's very decision to manipulate the collective imagination in regards to something even the most die-hard fans have not seen; "relevancy" is just the cherry on an already specious cake.
- Why prod Jackson into defaming the original? Is that really necessary? I'll let this quote speak for itself: "Jackson's Kong laps the 1933 movie in virtually every department yet still manages to leave you in awe of the pioneering original," Gordon writes. "Even when prodded, Jackson can't bring himself to criticize Cooper and Schoedsack's work. "I wouldn't use the word 'flaws'," he says, after a reporter does just that."
- It's good because it's long. Spiders aside, what does the new King Kong have that the old one didn't? About an extra 80 minutes. Gordon quotes Jackson: "A few people have already asked me why we're taking twice as long to tell essentially the same story, and I don't really know." And Gordon answers: "The best answer—the only answer, really—is the movie itself." What? Very next sentence: "Earlier this month, Jackson invited NEWSWEEK to New Zealand for an exclusive first look at the finished [film]." Oh, right – your free trip to New Zealand, is really the only answer for a lot of things.