I've seen two films currently in theaters in less than a week. Is the world coming to an end?
Films Recently Watched:
King Kong (2005) dir. by Peter Jackson
Christy's Christmas Holiday was Friday/Monday but mine was Monday/Tuesday so on Tuesday as Christy went back to work, I was able to run some errands and take in a matinee.
King Kong is the first film that Peter Jackson has made since his wonderful Lord of the Rings trilogy. Well, Jackson had a much simpler story to tell in Kong, but it is a story with which we are all familiar -- Beauty and the Beast. The presentation of that story is exellent for the most part. I have to agree with something I've heard others say about Jackson's Kong; that there's a wonderful 2 or 2.5 hour film in this 187 minute behemoth (or, is that an 800-pound-gorilla?). There are several sequences that are overly long and ultimately useless.
Andy Serkis, who did the voice and motion capture for LOTR's Gollum/Smeagol character, does the motion capture again here for Kong. Kong is as believable and compelling a CG character as I've seen. If I hadn't known better, I would have thought that they'd somehow used an actual ape and miniaturized the sets to create scale. Kong is terrifying, sad and funny, all without ever speaking a word. Excellent work from beginning to end.
There are also good performances by Jack Black as the obsessed movie director, Carl Denham and by Naomi Watts as Ann Darrow, the damsel in distress.
Overall, King Kong is lots of thrills and lots of fun with a few poignant moments, too. Definately worth seeing on the big screen.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) dir. by Andrew Adamson
Well, I was able to see this while we were in Michigan over the weekend. Christy's Mom & Dad watched Hannah while Christy, her brother, Paul, and I went to the local cinema. The film was good, for the most part. All of the characters were believable in their roles. The sets were beautiful. The CG work was decent overall, though there were moments that could have used a bit more polish. Nonetheless, there was something missing.
I have read a few other thoughts about the film, etc. from Brian, Jamie, (their December 13, 2005 entries) and especially their friend, Amy. I felt something during the film that was also experienced by Jamie and Amy. I was ready to be brought to tears by the shaving and execution of Aslan, but wasn't. I was nearly there when Lucy notices Aslan's pensive look after his meeting with the White Witch - I knew it was coming, but when it happened, I was not moved. At first, I thought maybe the scene where Aslan presents himself at the Stone Table was too "Passion of the Christ." Then, I thought that more could have been done with the musical score during this scene to give more emotion. I still think that; both for that scene and the entire film, but I believe that Brian and Jamie's friend, Amy has identified the primary reason: The movie is made out to be about the children and not Aslan. With their gifts and weapons, the children seem to have no need for Aslan and his sacrifice is cheapened.
It's unfortunate, because if they'd gotten that right, it would have been nearly perfect.
Other films recently watched:
War of the Worlds (2005) dir. by Steven Spielberg
Another letdown for me, I'm afraid. I was really looking forward to seeing this, but came away with the feeling that I'd seen it all before. For a director like Spielberg to take on a classic story like War of the Worlds, something more needs to happen to make it worthwhile. Either the story needs to be altered in some interesting way, or the classic story needs to be brought to the screen in a way that we've never seen before. Spielberg went for the latter, but gave us Independence Day, minus the humor, and nine years late.
Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004) dir. by Raja Gosnell
I almost walked out on this a few minutes before the end so that I wouldn't have to post it here, but I didn't. At least this one wasn't a letdown for me. It was exactly what I expected. :)
It's a Wonderful Life (1946) dir. by Frank Capra.
This ought to round out my Christmas movie watching for the year. Never a letdown. Makes me cry every time!