January 13, 2006
King Kong in Under 6 Minutes
No matter what side of the critical fence you're on regarding Peter Jackson's King Kong (loved it, hated it, kinda liked it), I think everyone can agree on one thing: It's way too friggin' long (3 hours 7 minutes!). Why do directors think we want to spend more than 2 hours in a movie theater? Don't they realize we have other things to do (like watch the hours and hours of backlogged TV shows we have stored on our TIVOs)?
The Times addresses the issue of "does size matter" in today's paper:
The common-sensical view that an audience might actually have a better experience if the film were tauter is rare among directors, especially this season when some of the most prominent movies are needlessly long...Well, for those of you who want shorter (but I can't guarantee "sleeker"), I present to you Tom Waits' rendition of Daniel Johnston's King Kong, clocking in at a mere 5 minutes, 31 seconds.
There aren't entire sequences that need to be cut from "Kong." (Well, maybe the too-cute episode in which Kong ice skates in Central Park en route to the Empire State Building.) But each set piece - the rampaging dinosaurs, the spiders, those toothy-wormy things that look like refugees from the "Alien" movies - includes a few scenes too many. And there are too many lingering shots of Kong's face and expressive eyes. These are signs of a director so enamored with his own clever accomplishments that he sacrifices the pacing of the film. Snipping a few seconds here and there would have made it a little shorter and much sleeker.
(To listen, click on the big hairy ape.)