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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Spellbinding Cinematic Wizardry., 9 February 2007

One of the greatest movies I've seen in a while, one which definitely fits in that category of elite and favored films of mine that I simply watch it awe of. It's absolutely fantastic, and I'm disappointed by how poorly the Academy received it. I don't blame them, of course: As of yet I haven't seen a movie they chose that didn't deserve the nomination. Granted, also, I've been very lax, as of late, in my movie-going, and have only yet seen two of the best picture nominees (which I plan to rectify by the Big Night). At any rate, I would have loved to see this movie nominated for Best Picture. In my opinion this is a better movie than The Departed (and please don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved The Departed: this is only a testament to The Illusionist's qualities) and of the same notable parity as Little Miss Sunshine (only, clearly, in a much different fashion: serious drama and mystery, as opposed to dramady).

The movie stars Edward Norton in a role but like and unlike anything we've ever seen him in. He revels in the same mystery which he typically partakes in Fight Club (1999) and The Score (2001), and yet he does so in an extraordinarily reserved fashion. His speech is far more reserved, his eyes and features far more telling, than anything he's done before: and this is by far the greatest role he's ever undertaken.

I hate to use this terminology, but acting under him is Paul Giamatti, whose equally impressive performance provides a solid foundation to lay the movie on top of, acting in the same fashion as Edward Norton, although surely something he's had more experience with: reserved and carefully executed acting, although with a tad more pomp and flare than Norton This is likewise, in my opinion, his greatest role, although seeing what he's done in the past this is a matter of considerably more debate.

Jessica Biel provides a powerful and striking performance in a role that could have, in fact, probably would have, lagged behind and weighted the movie in the hands of a less experienced and less capable actress. Rufus Sewell provides an equally potent performance, one that warrants-- nay-- demands, a mention.

The directing is spectacular: absolutely magical, as it were. The special-effects are subtle and used to a pleasingly small degree, opting more for Norton's actual skills and sleights of hand for a more realistic show. Further, the magic was merely the setting, a catalyst for the story to take hold and grow, not a crutch in which to support a flimsy production.

The movie, in a word, was spellbinding.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A Good, But Very Disappointing, Bedtime Story From M. Knight Shyamalan., 30 July 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

M. Knight Shyamalan is both an interesting writer and director to talk about. To bring up either his name or movies is to open up a cinematic can of worms. People either seem to take him or leave him, love him or hate him, revere him or loath him. Just like with people's opinions on George W. Bush, there just seems to be no middle-ground between the extremes of opinion which have governed his career.

However, this is exactly the kind of ground that I take with Lady in the Water. It's not a great film, by any means; and certainly not his best. It's no Unbreakable, Sixth Sense or even Signs; yet it's still better than most other movies that have been made.

It's important to note before you watch this movie that the trailers and commercials can be highly misleading. The first one was the most accurate, although it painted it as a Sixth-Sense-esquire mystery, which it is not. The more action-packed second trailer shows it as a surreal horror, which it is anything but. The mystery is explained strait away, and the tame moments of horror are few and far between. This movie can most accurately be described as a comedic dark fantasy, a perfect bedtime story for an adult mind.

This movie's direction seems to be constantly at war with itself. There are moments of genius, of highly stylized and unique cinematography. But they come across as only that, as moments amid average direction. The majority of this film is shot rather bland and rather "safe", contrasting tremendously with the incredible moments of absolutely brilliant directing. So, while it contains some of his greatest moments of direction, it's still lethargic and average by the end of the film.

The acting is excellent. Paul Giamatti was made for this role (or, rather, the role was made for him, Shyamalan claims). He is absolutely convincing as the apartment superintendent who comes across a lady in the water. He carries himself in a very sedate way, in compliance with his character, and his stuttering was never brought into question. He's an excellent actor, and played a part that fit him perfectly. Shyamalan himself gives a surprising performance as this movie's primary supporting actor.

The opening sequence of this movie was pointless. It was very unlike Shyamalan to give away all of the mystery before the title even appeared on the screen, and it worked to his detriment here. Nothing was shown that we didn't find out on our own (and in a better fashion) during the course of the movie. The back-story paired up with the stick-figure animation was very poorly done, and even bordered upon laughable at times. It seemed to me that perhaps Shyamalan watched Beauty and the Beast a few too many times before sitting down to write the story. It worked in the 1991 film, but not in this one.

Humor is not a factor for which Shyamalan's films are known, but which is one of Lady in the Water's greatest strengths. Hardly a scene passes without one humorous moment or another, and all keeping with the tone of the movie. The best part was Bob Balaban's character of Mr. Farber (the movie critic) who (in the true fashion of Gulliver) unknowingly satirized not only this film, but the entire film industry. He type-casts the characters of the film (incorrectly, at that) as well as had a running commentary just before he was killed which mocked horror films. I'm fairly certain that, had this movie not blatantly made fun of movie critics, it would have gotten better reviews. I've already read several that pretty well say as much.

The plot itself suffers from one major flaw. That is, it back-tracks terribly. We're told that everybody has a purpose, and are given what those purposes specifically are. A plot develops around these purposes and for maybe a half hour or more builds off of this. However, we're then told that they're not what they were supposed to be, and then move on to show us who're really meant to fill what roles. It comes down to a waste of the audience's time that could have been much improved by condensing the plot and developing it, instead of spending time reinventing it when we're told that it doesn't work.

The CGI in the film is good, although not great or prominent enough to be of any particular note. We see much too little of the Scrunts for their presence to be of integral importance. They pretty much just come along to delay Story's (the nymph's) return home. They seemed to demand more of a presence on-screen and a more integral role in the film. Perhaps some of the time spent backtracking and redirecting the plot could have been spent making the rouge scrunt a much larger and more noticeable threat. As it stands, it appeared to be little more than a Boogey-Man hiding in a closet or a Tommknocker knocking on our door.

The score to this film was above-average, but far from great. It, like this film, had some truly outstanding moments. But it failed to make any kind of lasting impression on the listener.

My overall opinion of this movie, despite what gripes I had with it, is that it's a very good film, although I expected more of this movie from the previews and Shyamalan's own reputation. This is a wonderful film that, though flawed, is better than most other films I've seen. As one viewer said, it operates like a small independent movie on a studio-budget. Fans of Shyamalan's other movies, as well as children and families, should enjoy this movie. Also, fans of Labyrinth and Morrormask should enjoy this as well.

Dracula (1931)
3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Classic, Sure, But it Could Have Been Better., 27 July 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Made in the very early years of "talkies", Dracula remains to this day a classic of cinema, and for good reason. However, this film is not without it's flaws. In fact, they're quite numerous. But an excellent set design and Bela Lugosi's performance are really what make this film what it is.

The acting in this movie hits a very wide spectrum, and ranges from brilliant to terrible, although mostly staying within the realm of average. Bela Lugosi, who plays Dracula, gives and absolutely classic performance in this movie. His accent is perfect, and his slow, steady and very deliberate deliverance of his lines are flawless. He captures the essence of Dracula, the very core of evil.

Dwight Frye, however, was terrible. He gives, easily, one of the worst and over-acted performances that has ever been captured on film. Everything he does is so over-the-top that it ruins the character. He so obviously tries to act crazy that he just comes off as laughable on screen.

The rest of the acting was rather average. Edward van Sloan, who plays Van Helsing, gives the only other memorable above-average performance in this movie. He knows his character, and portrays him as he should be, a little underacted while still giving off a commanding presence.

The direction of this film is atrocious. The shots that are meant to be serious are comical, the ones that should be horrific barely manage to touch the viewer. A ridiculous amount of time is devoted to Lugosi's eyebrows, and seriously subtracts from this film. If James Whale, instead of Tod Browning, had directed this movie I have no doubt that it would rank at least a full point higher. As it stands, though, the direction does nothing but get into the film's way.

The set designs are simply superb. Count Dracula's castle is powerful and atmospheric. While it's not as the book describes it, it does much to add to the film's tone and charm. The Harker's home has a wonderful classic touch to it, and looks just as one would expect a Victorian estate to look; impeccable, proper and richly decorated.

Except for the beginning, there is no musical score in the entire movie. I'm inclined to think that this might be, perhaps, due to it being 1931 (only four years since the first sound motion picture, The jazz Singer). After watching Frankenstein (1931), I'm even more sure of this. But this is still one of the film's greatest downfalls. The utter silence throughout the entire film brings focus to every excruciating little detail throughout, and brings out every flaw and every imperfection. Every moment stretches exponentially, and every minor defect is exaggerated more than it should be. If you get the opportunity, watch this movie with Philip Glass' modern score rendition for this movie. It smooths the entire film over and raises it to a new level.

This is a movie that every horror fan and fan of classic movies should watch. In fact, this is one of the movies that I feel that has become so ingrained into our culture, that has become such a pillar of film-making, everybody should see it at least once in their lifetime.

4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Terrible Adaptation, Classic Film., 27 July 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

One thing must be said about Frankenstein (1931) before it is watched. This is a terrible adaptation of Mary Shelly's novel "Frankenstein or: A Modern Prometheus". Except for the fact that there was a Frankenstein who created a "monster" from corpses and brought it to life, which then escaped and began terrorizing the countryside, there is almost nothing in common. The "Monster" is not the intelligent and murderous creature from the book, but rather a hulking brute. Victor (Henry, in the movie) does not abandon the creature, he doesn't travel to the North Pole to hunt it down, he doesn't converse with an explorer who finds him and he doesn't die. Victor's Father, bride and everybody else who's connected to him all live, instead of dying as they would have in an accurate rendition.

This, simply put, is not Mary Shelly's Frankenstein. This is John L. Balderston's Frankenstein, this is James Whale's Frankenstein... this is a different story. This must be understood beforehand, so that no confusion can be made. This is different.

That being said, this movie is deservedly a classic, an excellent and brilliant example of early-sound film. The direction is excellent. James Whale knows exactly where and when to point the camera, how to instruct the crew, what everybody needs to be doing. The acting is incredible.

Colin Clive's performance is nothing short of perfect. He shows Henry's (Victor's) troubled mind, his romantic and sentimental disposition, and his descent into suffering as the "monster" runs free. He perfectly portray's Frankenstein's complex: he's an over-achiever; he creates a creature that can revolutionize science and medicine, but it is beyond his ability to cope and comes to terms with the abomination, with his "Foul Abortion". To date, this is one of my favorite performances in any film.

Boris Karloff gives an equally superior and classic performance as the naive and innocent "monster", a creature who through no fault of his own weaves a path of terror, death and destruction everywhere he goes. Wihtout words, he conveys the creature's every thought, every fear, every emotion, with only grunts and body-language to aid him. In fact, the timing of the film, on the advent of "talkies", is an asset to the feature; just after a time when body-language was quite literally the only way that an actor could speak to his audience.

The rest of the acting, while not nearly as incredible as these two leads, was far above average. While some of the parts themselves left something to desire, their performance and execution was utterly flawless. In fact, it was one of the all-around better acted films, as a whole, that I've seen.

The sets were quite excellent. While it was always perfectly obvious when there was a back-drop, and equally obvious that this was filmed in its entirety within studio-walls, the sets were quite impressive. The windmill, Frankenstein's tower, the Baron's home... all of them were beautifully designed and created. The special effects, for the day, blew me away, as did the sound-effects. I was utterly surprised how much that they could accomplish with so little to work with (especially compared with today). The make-up on Karloff's "Monster" was marvelous and sickening; just the way that it should be. The costumes were fitting for the characters, and Elizabeth's (Mae Clark's) dress was simply gorgeous.

The score (or lack thereof) was extremely minimal. Except for the beginning, I don't believe I heard it again until the end-credits. The sound effects, however, more than made up for that silence in the background. At times, silence was even this movie's greatest strength. It allowed the mob's shouts and the character's dialog. I believe that this is the only time I can say that no score ( basically what they had) was a wiser choice than more score.

Overall, this is a classic and must-see film. It's the quintessential horror movie and a masterpiece in its own right. It has stood the tests of time despite not being faithful at all to the book upon which it's based. While the ending is the exact opposite of the book's, this new Frankenstein story is beautifully rendered and executed. This is a must see for anybody who loves horror, classic movies or even movies in general.

15 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
This Show Has Heart., 27 July 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Let's face it, reality TV is anything but. They, typically, are the lowest denominator of television and entertainment. There are exceptions to this, of course. Mostly these shows run more as talent shows than as anything else, though (such as American Idol, Fight For Fame and Last Comic Standing), but beyond them there are very few that can even count themselves as decent, let alone good. Somehow this show, with it's costumed heroes, dynamic rescuers and dark avengers, is a far more real show than those "reality" shows that are more fake than most scripted entertainment.

As I have said, this show has heart. There is a soul to it, a morality. This is epitomized in Stan Lee's statement to The Iron Enforcer, "Superheroes don't kill people, they save them". Every elimination thus far has not been one of popularity, appearance or even of ability. It's been about choices, about the core of the person's being and the choices that they made. The Toy Man was eliminated for his shallow vanity and greed, while Nitro G was eliminated for his callous dis-concern for the little girl he was supposed to save.

To watch this show is a rare joy. I can't remember the last time that I laughed so hard. To watch these ordinary people live out their deepest fantasy is an absolute sight to behold. To watch them play the part of the hero, to be what they've always idolized, is actually inspiring, and nothing so much that the costume doesn't make them how they are. It merely draws attention to them and their acts.

Any one of these people would make excellent superheroes. Even the two I felt were the most ridiculous ideas (Fat Momma and Cell Phone Girl) have made me think twice about them after seeing them both in action. Major Victory portrays a powerful old-school hero persona, The Iron Enforcer shows a very dark Modern hero (His comments about deploying himself into Iraq struck a chord) and Monkey Girl, despite her laughable name, has a tenderness about her that rips at a person's heart.

People who will like this show will be fans of superheroes first and foremost. It doesn't matter what denomination of hero you belong to (Bat Man, Superman, Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Wonder Woman, Green Lanturn, etc...), you will enjoy this show and the fantasy that anybody can be a super-hero. Also, fans of reality TV should also enjoy this show, being one itself.

But, like I said, this show has heart. And on TV today, this is a very very rare treat to behold.

Boo (1932)
Awesomely Cheesy, Hilarious, Short Film., 26 July 2006

This is easily one of the better short films I have ever seen. Despite being made in 1932, it's on par with the best of today's equivalent shorts, and far superior to most of them. It's a hilarious spoof that uses clips from Frankenstein (1931) and Nosferatu (1922), along with dead-pan narration, that takes a number of clever shots at everything from their appearance, actions and even congress and The Great Depression. It's everything that Svengoolie tries, and horrendously fails, to be. It's a choice gem of the 1930's culture that should be experienced if at all possible; definitely a must-see for fans of comedy and horror (especially Dracula and Frankenstein).

Cube (1997)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
An Unexpected Gem., 24 July 2006

I've heard for some time how great this movie was, and have meant for some time to watch it. But after I watched Cube Zero the other night, I decided that I HAD to see it, and that the time was now. I expected a decent movie: something atmospheric and intelligent, but largely nothing I hadn't seen before. What I got, instead, was an unexpected cinematic gem, far better than most other movies.

The acting was great, not excellent by any means, but still of a very high caliber. The two most memorable deserve special mentioning.

Nicole de Boer (Jone Leaven: The Math Student) did an outstanding job. She had a solid and believable performance throughout the entire film. She was very steady, and even made actions as mundane as her thinking for extended periods of time enjoyable.

Maurice Dean Wint (Quentin: The Cop) gave a thoroughly enjoyable performance as a man who sinks deeper and deeper into depraved madness. in most cases, actors given this kind of role will make their characters descend into madness far too quickly. While he might have overacted a little from time to time, he gave a extremely well-paced performance and believably portrayed his characters increasing insanity.

Personally, I found these actors/actresses all far above average and more than competent in their roles. I'm actually surprised that they haven't gone on to at least be recognizable mid-name actors. A special mention should be given to whoever did the casting. They did an absolutely perfect job at choosing the roles.

The direction was simple, yet effective. It used a style that reminded me very much of Alfred Hitchcock: minimalist, but maximizing every aspect of the film. Vincenzo Natali created a powerful and thick environment; tense and atmospheric. Even moreso than the crew, I would have expected him to have become a much greater success than he is now.

Natali also wrote the script which, like his direction, is simple and effective. 7 people wake up in a labyrinth of trapped cubes and must find their way out. The cast is small, the premise simple, and the dangers evident. And yet these are all its greatest strengths. With a small cast, every danger, every death, means much more than if there was a larger cast. Also, with a smaller cast there's much more time to develop each character, which the script maximizes upon. The simplicity of the script, the almost bare danger, makes it all the more terrifying. You know the rules, you know what's going to happen, and you know that there's no way to avoid it.

The emptiness of the cube, the isolation from anything and everything else, is felt in every passing minute. The utter pointlessness of it all is as thoroughly maddening to the audience as it is to the characters. This, however, gives every action more meaning, and adds to the film's overall tone. The dark colors of the various rooms add to heavy and dismal atmosphere. The emptiness beyond the cube creates a further sense of isolation. And the powerful message at the end of the film (which I won't spoil for anybody), the bitter-sweet irony of it all, is what makes this such an excellent film.

Overall, this is a classic sci-fi thriller. It's a definite must-see for science fiction and horror fans, as well as fans of powerful human drama. This is easily one of the most original and successful films I can think of in any of those three categories.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
FAR Better Than I Thought it Would Be., 22 July 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When I saw this movie the other night, I had virtually no expectations for it. As with most horror movies I see, it was late at night and I just wanted to watch something to pass the time. I'll admit off hand that I have not seen the original (although I've heard enough of it where I could retell it shot for shot, just about). And I have seen the horrid 2003 remake (I was at a party, and we all found it hilarious). So given that my only true experience with the franchise was the remake, and that horror series degrade at an extremely high rate, I felt that this might be my first disappointment with the IFC. I was wrong.

It was the acting, first and foremost, that surprised me. It was more than average, it was actually good (whereas most horror movies, I find, have absolutely dreadful actors). I was surprised to find Viggo Mortenson in here, but I suppose you have to start somewhere. He was without question the best actor involved, giving an eerie and menacing (although not frightening) performance. While he clearly has a way to grow from this early performance, his talent is obvious.

The woman who played the female protagonist did a good job in her role. She didn't degrade into a shrilly screaming mess, nor did she seem immune to the terror around her. She showed a realistic and gradual development due to what was happening around her.

The little girl, as played by Jennifer Bonko, had the only part that was frightening. Why was it frightening? She was a little girl, and had the most sinister actions of the family. Her skeleton-littered room was juxtaposed beautifully with her painfully cute appearance, and her doll was a disturbing touch. Why the female lead would think nothing amiss about her, I have no idea. While Viggo does the best acting job, Jennifer gives the most memorable performance.

The rest of the cast did a good job as well. Ken Foree gives a well-done, although forgettable, performance, as does William Butler and Joe Unger. Really, that's what the entire movie can boil down to in the end: well made, but still forgettable.

The direction was pretty well done. It has a gritty feel to it, more like some low-budget movies made in the 70's and 80's rather than one made in 1990. That, I think, is part of it's success with me. It seemed dark and gritty in an old, and almost dated, way.

While this film never frightened me, it does have some highly memorable moments. The dead father who was "fed" blood was a somewhat disturbing image, especially with all of that blood staining the front of his shirt.

Leatherface, unlike in the 2003 remake of the original, looked terrifying. In fact, that whole Mr. Spell sequence with the picture of the clown was very well done. Also, as I mentioned above, the little girl was just all-around the best part of this movie.

The forest was highly atmospheric and well shot, and the crazed girl was extremely well done. I would have loved if she had stuck around a bit longer and been more developed. As it was, she was used only as a plot-device to give Foree's character the lighter and to build the clan up more in the audience's eyes.

The beginning had a well-made introduction. And the uncovering of the mass grave was an excellent way to foreshadow the movie. However, the sequence between and including them hitting the armadillo and going the gas station was slow and ill-shot. It served a purpose, but could have been made to serve it better. The ending is entirely wasted. They chose the wrong clansman to come back for the final scare. That little girl would have been perfect for the job, absolutely perfect, and much more frightening to boot. Other than that, my only complaint is that the new shiny chain-saw didn't have the same dark and gritty feel as the old one he had.

This passes off as an average horror movie. It's an entertaining way to pass a few hours, and includes several memorable ingredients to it. Fans of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series, I'd imagine, should like this movie. Fans of Viggo Mortensen might find this early performance of his enjoyable. And fans of horror, even the milder ones, should find this a campy and enjoyable movie.

It falls into that category of movie that pushes no envelopes; one that's mild enough for the more squeamish and violent enough for the more fortified constitutions. It's not great, but neither is it bad. It's only decent, and will never be any more or less.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Who Wants to be a Millionaire: Team Version, 21 July 2006

It is extremely obvious that this show was made in the wake of Who Wants to be a Millionaire's popularity. The set almost exactly remade from it (save the addition of the multiple podiums), the sound-effects are nearly identical and the premise and feel virtually the same.

However, this is not Who Wants to be a Millionaire, although it comes fairly close. What makes this game different is the addition of the team and the Terminator. The team-play gives a fresh variance from it's predecessor, and the fact that the captain can either accept or eliminate any answer gives it another fresh element. In every other team-based game-show, the individual members of the team choose their answers. Here it still boils down to that one individual, although he gets constant suggestions instead of life-lines. The Terminator is the most original part of this show, which randomly will choose one team member to challenge another for their share in the money. My favorite part of the show, however, is when the host actually shows the captain the money, when he takes it out in front of them and fans it around a bit. I love game-shows, I really do, and in every other show I've seen you always lose your concept of money; you never quite remember exactly how much you've won. This grounds the contestants back into reality, forcing them to come to terms with what they can easily walk away with.

This show does have it's flaws. The questions are inconsistent, and can vary from the mundanely simple to the impossibly hard. I haven't seen them ever find a stride that's challenging, but still possible to answer with a fair bit of certainty. As I mentioned before, the set is FAR to reminiscent of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, in fact it's nearly identical. When they choose teams, I always found it annoying that they never showed the eliminated contestant's answer. And, finally, they wait far too long between answering the question and revealing the answer. It's a constant element to the show that begins to wear on a person after a few rounds.

However, the host is amiable and, as with the best of them, unobtrusive. However, much as he doesn't take anything away from the show, he really doesn't ADD to the show. But I suppose that this is preferable to one of the extremes.

Despite it's flaws, this really is an enjoyable show. It takes from Who Wants to be a Millionaire it's better components, while adding new aspects to keep it fresh. While the result is not nearly as good a show as that which it borrows from, it creates a better game-show than most others.

King Kong (2005)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A Classic Remake: The Definitive Kong., 19 July 2006

For as excellent a movie the original 1933 King Kong was, it was not without it's flaws. It suffered from uneven direction, some disappointing action-sequences, severely dated special effects and no part (short of screaming and looking beautiful) for the character of Ann once they returned to New York. It was a classic, without a question. But, despite that, it was a movie that was practically begging to be remade, rebuffed with a better script, better special effects and a better director.

The acting is interesting to mention. It's one of the few instances where a cast of big-name, talented and often reliable actors are assembled but do very little. The cast features academy award winner Adrien Brody, the hilarious Jack Black and the talented Naomi Watts I find it ironic that Andy Serkis, who's brilliant in his own right, far outshines them all in his inhuman role without a word of dialog. He takes an inhuman creatures and transforms him into as human a soul as has ever lived.

I'm somewhat split over my feelings of Jack Black's performance. He took his role and did as good a job as he could with it. He gives an excellent performance, but the wrong performance none-the-less. He's terribly miscast. Denham's role requires a great seriousness that Black is simply incapable of giving. He gives an amusing and comic performance and tries to fit it to the serious character, but the juxtaposition simply does not work. It's not his fault, but this performance is still his to bear.

Watts, I thought, gave an unremarkable performance. It was good, and certainly above-average, but unremarkable none-the-less. There is not one thing striking about what she did with her role, not one thing that truly stands out in my mind as great. She's a pretty face, a tremendously pretty face at that, but that's mostly what the role calls for. Her role's never been incredibly complex, and she simply doesn't have a great deal to work with.

Adrien Brody gives another unremarkable performance to match Watts'. He simply fails to leave a great impression. He's convincing in the role, but I feel that Bruce Cabot did a better job in the original. Granted, the characters in the two versions are very different.

The directing is simply brilliant in every way. Jackson takes the same epic, sweeping, approach that he did for the three Lord of the Rings movies, and it works just as well here. He really seems to have found 'his' film. His shots are breathtaking, and he seems to know just how to follow every character to maximize their efforts, Kong most of all. And to take a cast who each gives an unimpressive performance (Serkis aside) and make a film this exquisitely crafted takes some doing.

The Special Effects were by far the most amazing that I have ever before seen. They're so striking, so detailed, so realistic that, ironically, I can hardly believe what I'm seeing. Kong, especially, moves so fluidly and is so painstakingly detailed that he doesn't stand out as CGI but into the rest of the film. The T-Rex's were equally well done, and put the ones from Jurassic Park to shame; there's simply no comparison between the two.

The choreography is excellent. The T-Rex scene was beautifully rendered, although I'll admit that there was at least one too many. The scene at the end where Kong battles the planes on top of the Empire State Building is riveting and literally had me nearly falling off of the edge of my seat. But, for how excellently rendered it all was, each sequence went on longer than it should have, by either a little or a lot.

The original film had a great setback of the islanders. They were used only as a plot-device and as Kong-fodder. You never actually felt as if they were a threat. Here, however, they're dark, gritty and menacing. They look the part of a savage tribe and act it as well. That old woman had easily the most disturbing and frightening part of the entire movie.

The ending in New York is much better. It is here where the relationship between Ann and Kong is taken to the next level. You see him on the island protecting her against any danger, sacrificing for her, chasing after her with no thought to what might be awaiting him. It's here where you see him caring for her, playing with her. For a few minutes in the film, it seems almost possible that they could live together, as implausible as it would be, you actually believe that. That's something that the original never quite did. It was a different story, one of unrequited love by a lost soul in a strange land. This is a sadder tale of tragic, doomed, mutual love that can sadly never be.

In the end, King Kong is without a doubt one of the better movies that a person can see. I'd even argue that it's superior to the original. It's greatest flaws, though, are it's mediocre cast performances (aside from Andy Serkis) and an overly-long run time (The scene at the bottom of the chasm where they fought off the bottom-dwellers could have been eliminated almost entirely, and a fair bit throughout trimmed down. There was probably about 30 minutes that could have been cut without much lost). This film is powerful, ingenious and able to stand on its own merit. I would recommend this new classic to any fan of the original or of Peter Jackson especially. But I think that very few people will find it so disagreeable where they wouldn't like it.

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