This is a movie that missed shattering brilliance by about this much. There's so much it gets right--Serkis' "realistic" Kong is perfection, the relationship between Darrow and Kong is wonderful, and the thematic elements come together in very nice ways, and Jackson finds ways to point them up and interlace the threads and make this a movie about Carl Denham's final and absolute fall as much as it is a movie about Ann Darrow's fierceness. There's so much to love here thematically, so many little threads that wind back around and come out to be different shadows cast by the same light.
Lovely too is the soundtrack, both in the moments when it's nearly subliminal, and those when it's fiercely meta. And more than lovely is Andy Serkis, and the Kong animation team. They deserve several Academy awards for that work.
There's a wonderful, masterful bit of cinematographic storytelling when Our Heroes (and Villains) are on the tramp steamer, and a few weeks are elided into a few minutes of screen time. It's beautifully done, directorial and editorial sleight of hand so slick that you never even realize what a tricky bit of screencraft just got passed under your nose--which is just as it should be--and Jackson juggles three major and a few minor plot threads through that bit of film as smoothly as Ann's vaudeville juggling act. Bravo, Mr. Jackson.
Also, the fight with the bugs and lampreys is one of the great OMG they're gonna die moments of cinema history. As one of my co-viewers said, "At that point, even the score has abandoned them."
Then there's the technical difficulties. Some of the blue screening is a little, um, icky. Or perhaps a better word would be kludged. Some of the action scenes demand one's disbelief be not so much suspended as hung by the neck until dead, and I'm pretty sure Ms. Darrow would have succumbed to Shaken Actress Syndrome.
I mostly loved the cast, especially the romantic lead. (I won't spoiler that. You all know the monkey dies, though, right?)
Those are minor points.
Of more concern is a somewhat limping narrative in the middle third of the movie--the tramp steamer works just fine, if the pace is stately, and the New York scenes are fast-paced and shiny. Alas, Skull Island is just Skull Island for a bit tooooo long. I will, however, admit that I closed my eyes during the lamprey scene. Ew ew ew ew ew ew.
I have not actually closed my eyes during a movie since I was completely creeped out by Alien when I saw it way, way too young.
There was some directorial heavyhandedness--I loved the meta (I'm a meta girl) of the line "This isn't an adventure story, is it?" But it didn't need an answer. Just a look. Trust the audience a bit more, Peter. We get it. You also don't need to linger on Ms. Darrow's dewy eyes quite so much. The girl can act. Let her. She doesn't need the directorial assist as much as, say, Liv Tyler.
Also, I felt the movie's iconic final line fell a little flat. It should evoke echoes of both the Heart of Darkness subplot and Denham's earlier comment--"and from that day, he was as one dead."
Because of course, Denham's as dead as Kong. And he didn't die as beautifully.
Despite all those flaws, I leave you with this. It's a movie about a twenty-five foot gorilla. And it's art. It's not a staggering work of heartbreaking genius, mind you--but it is, in fact, art.
It's just maybe trying a little too hard to make up for the gorilla.
Lustrous, sanguine, soft and lavish: soft orris, blood musk, and coconut.
Vial: Orris and musk, musk and orris.
Wet: It converts into musk and coconut on contact. The combination, incidentally, smells a good deal like copal. I'm one of the weird people who likes copal.
Drydown: the orris is back, along with the musk. Kind of aggressively.
Dry: Kind of a nice sweet musky suntan oil kind of scent.