Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Tag Archives: William Wallace

King Kong (2005)

He must protect his house.

Carl Denham (Jack Black) is a filmmaker living in the 1930’s, meaning, he doesn’t have a lot of opportunities. And the ones that he does have, don’t tickle his fancy as much as they used to. That’s why, when he catches wind of a mysterious, huge and odd island out in the middle of nowhere, Denham soon gets the ambition and inspiration all over again. So, he assembles a team full of actors, actresses, crew, and handy-men, who know a thing or two about an adventure and are capable of solving issues, should any of them arise. Aboard the ship is leading-lady Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts), who also is in desperate need of a hit and will do anything for the spotlight, just one more time. Screenwriter Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody) feels the same way, but also finds himself falling for Ann, leading him to make some pretty rash decisions along this adventure, all leading up to finally meeting, once and for all, King Kong – the giant gorilla who practically watches over Skull Island and kills any sort of threat that may come its way. In this case, it’s these humans and needless to say, not all of them are equipped to take him down.

Why would you want a human, when you could have a Kong?

After winning practically every Oscar that he could for Return of the King, it made sense that he would be allowed to make virtually any movie that he wanted. Cause it’s a known thing in Hollywood: Make a lot of money, win a lot of awards, earn respect, and guess what? You can make your dream projects a reality. And oddly enough, for Jackson, it was remaking the movie he grew up knowing and loving, King Kong. Oh, and by “remaking”, I mean making two hours longer and adding on more CGI, special-effects, and story than you could ever imagine.

But trust me, this isn’t a stab at Jackson.

If anything, King Kong is Jackson getting the opportunity to play in his sandbox, where the world is his oyster, sky is the limit, there are no rules, and even better, everyone’s watching. A lot of people may have complained about the fact that the movie is over three hours long, takes awhile to actually get to Skull Island, and yeah, features one too many monsters and creatures, aside from the titular Kong, but in a way, that sort of makes the movie more epic; it shows us that Jackson isn’t setting out to make a note-for-note remake, but bask in every single bit of this material and be as excessive as humanly possible.

Is it a little draining? Quite possibly, yes, but at the same time, watching Jackson having the time of his life is, in all honesty, a beauty to behold. There aren’t many directors out there in the world with the impressive and ambitious scope like Jackson’s, so when he’s given carte blanche to do all that he wants and not stop, it’s nothing if not entertaining. Also, when was the last time you saw a three-hour movie that goes by in a flash? King Kong should have been a slog, but it’s not and it’s a true testament to Jackson’s prowess that allows for him to make a three-hour movie about little humans and a big gorilla, feel a lot less than that.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that Jackson directs the hell out of this thing and it makes sense why he wanted to bother with this story in the first place.

And even getting away from the technical side of the movie, and focusing more on the actual things that matter, like story, character development, etc., yeah, it still kind of works. The story isn’t all that different from before, but this time around, Jackson does up the emotion in a way that’s surprising, mostly because while we’re watching Kong up there on the screen, we’re watching something believable and impressively done – almost to the point where instead of being scared by him, we’re actually connected to him. The whole tale about this gorilla falling in love with a short little blonde thing is, of course, silly, but the movie doesn’t forget that sometimes, the seriousness of a tale like this can actually work, so long as you build enough tension and emotion behind it all.

That’s what Jackson does and it helps King Kong move along, even when it gets away from the gorilla beating the hell out of other monsters and dinosaurs. Cause even during those sequences, there’s a fun, crazy and almost hectic energy that’s a lot like the Lord of the Rings movies, but still its own kind of beast. Even when Jackson does dial it down for the characters, the movie’s still at least somewhat interesting, because we’ve spent so much time and energy with them, it’s hard not to understand them, at the very least.

Jack knows what I’m talking about.

Then again, the ensemble involved does help out with that as much as they can.

If there’s one thing that holds King Kong back from being a truly and absolutely great movie that it sometimes comes close to being, it’s that the performances can tend to be a bit bland, which may have more to do with the script and less to do with the actual actors themselves. Like, for instance, Naomi Watts and Adrien Brody are two perfectly good actors who can work well when given the material, but for some reason, they just feel underdeveloped; Watts gets some chances to be bright and shiny, whereas Brody is mostly just serious and not all that right for a movie that’s so concerned with everything else that’s going on around him. Others in the cast fare better, like Kyle Chandler, Jamie Bell, Thomas Kretschmann, and Colin Hanks, mostly because their characters aren’t made out to be the leads and can benefit from some goofiness, but with Watts and Brody, who are supposed to be our emotional anchors throughout this whole thing, it doesn’t fully work.

That said, the movie does benefit from having a very good, very surprising, and very dark performance from Jack Black. Of course, a lot of people will consider Black’s performance to be channeling Orson Welles, but if so, it’s still a good performance, because we see him lay down all of the usual trademarks and conventions that we’re so used to seeing, and hating with the sorts of characters he plays. What we get here, is a person we grow to love to hate and because of Black’s performance gets better, taking on more meaning as the movie develops and we start to see more sides to this twisted, sometimes sad little man.

Which is to say that I’m still waiting for that battle between Black and Kong.

Black Kong. What a name.

Consensus: Ambitious in scope, epic in its look, feel, and overall mood, King Kong is the movie Peter Jackson deserved to make and absolutely revels in the opportunity to do so, for the benefit of us all.

8.5 / 10

See what I mean?

Photos Courtesy of: Fernby Films


Braveheart (1995)

Just proof as to why you don’t mess with the Scottish, they will always beat your ass.

Enraged at the slaughter of Murron (Catherine McCormack) — his new bride and childhood love — legendary Scottish warrior William Wallace (Mel Gibson, who also directed the film) slays a platoon of the local English lord’s soldiers. This leads the village to revolt and, eventually, the entire country to rise up against English rule.

There’s a lot to be said about this film that hasn’t already been said before. It’s a great film, but its influence seems to be over-shadowed.

The influential thing about this film starts with its gritty look. Many epics before this film have either romanticized or cleaned up the look of 13th century locations. However, with this film, Gibson gives us a dirty, disgusting look, something that many back in 1995 haven’t seen before. The people in this movie are dirty (even though they have clear teeth), and the habitats they choose to live in are even worse looking them they are. Without this film we wouldn’t have been able to see the true disgusting side of the 13th century.

Another great thing about this film is that the great epic battle sequences are straight up in your face bloody. The best part of this film is obviously the awesome battle sequences that occur, but some seem to forget that these battles being so effin’ bloody, got other directors thinking, more blood the better. I mean look at any other epic battle film after 95: Gladiator, Troy, 300, hell even enough to say, Lord of the Rings, even though it isn’t as bloody as this. They all have a lot of bloody action, that brings out a lot of emotions by showing how brutal mid-evil times were.

Gibson as director, is spot on perfect here. He captures every single emotion there is to capture in a epic like this. The battle scenes are great mostly because of the way he films them showing every single detail of brutality. Another reason for it’s greatness is the message. The reality of freedom we live and enjoy started with a dream. A dream turned into reality by men with conviction like William Wallace.That comes with pain and sacrifice,and sometimes involves violence.

I did have some problems with this film though, as many others did when it won Best Picture. There is not much we know about William Wallace, a poem I think, but I couldn’t help myself to think that none of this actually happened. I remember quite faintly, that the big battle scene in the beginning, happened on a bridge in real history, and the primae noctis was never used by King Edward which starts the battles off in the beginning.

Mel Gibson possibly could be the greatest action star of all-time mostly thanks to this. Gibson creates this great character William Wallace, by backing him up with so much charisma, so much courage, and so much humanity, that it’s hard not to wish that he defeats the English. Wallace will be an icon in film for some time now, and when you scratch your head and wonder why, then check out this wonderful scene. Why Gibson wasn’t nominated for an Oscar, still baffles me.

Patrick McGoohan also does a great job at playing Edward Longshanks. He plays the villain the old-school way, but still shows us a great deal of depth, when he’s fighting against his son, demanding terrible orders, and overall being a total and complete jack-ass to everyone he knows. But hey, I hated him so it must have worked.

Consensus: Though it’s not completley accurate, Braveheart is still one of the best epics, with its great action sequences, influential gritty style, as well as a great directing job and acting job from one of the greats, Mel Gibson.

9.5/10=Full Pricee!!