Thursday, December 22, 2005

Peter Jackson & Crew

Kong Still King

There is something about 3-hour movies that just clicks inside me. That is, 3-hour movies directed by everyone's favorite Kiwi, Peter Jackson! If the Lord of the Rings trilogy was not enough to seal this guy's place as one of the greatest directors in film history, this latest movie should definitely do the trick. I have been looking forward all year to seeing this supersized monkey once again take to the big screen. Suffice it to say that it was hardly a letdown! I waited to go see Kong for myself until after I had read all the major reviews about it. Most, if not all, of them had something negative to say about some aspect of the movie. Except for the excessive use of Christ's name as a curse, I found nothing to complain about. Kong is nothing less than a cinematic masterpiece! Jackson and his crew at WETA Digital have once again proven to be the lords of Tinseltown in terms of visual effects. The digital effects in this movie are incredible! I have to say that several of the scenes on Skull Island were realistic enough to make me squirm uncontrollably (namely those scenes incorporating nightmare-sized creepy-crawlers) . The last segment of the movie, and perhaps the most memorable, is that of Kong mounting the Empire State Building. The cinematography simply grabs hold of your mind and takes you for a ride thousands of feet in the air. It is enough to make even the most grounded theater-goer dizzy! Jackson has also proven to be a master at taking an existing story and giving it new and stronger life. He did so with The Lord of the Rings and he has done it on an even greater scale with King Kong. I have watched the original King Kong film and was thus privileged to be able to understand some of the newer Kong's more subtle touches. For one, early in the movie there is a scene onboard the ship as the characters are in search of Skull Island. Director Carl Denham is filming a first meeting between Ann Darrow and Bruce Baxter as they gaze out over the ocean. This is an actual scene taken directly from the classic 1933 original, and it is shot in the very same way. There are many more scenes like this throughout the movie and I will say that one cannot fully appreciate this Kong until one has seen the original (as painful as it may be). This movie is by far the best I have seen all year long and I would classify it as a must-see for anyone in need of wholesome entertainment. It may be a little too intense for younger viewers, especially the island scenes that encompass the majority of the film, but viewers 12-yrs.-old and up will definitely find it worth the three hours to watch.

Friday, December 16, 2005

A Lion on a Mission

Narnia Unleashed

After much anticipation, the first installment of the Chronicles of Narnia was at last released in theaters on December 9th. Being a longtime fan of C. S. Lewis and the Chronicles, I had high hopes for this movie as I expected it to be completely faithful to the books. I was not disappointed! Unlike Peter Jackson's theatrical Lord of the Rings trilogy, director Andrew Adamson withheld any creative twists from Lewis' story and stuck right with the original plot. I had heard and read various reviews from private screenings before seeing the movie for myself. One of the comments I remembered was that Aslan was not given as much screentime as expected, making it seem as if he played a much smaller part in the movie than Lewis had him play in the book. I was worried that this might be true, but after seeing the movie, nothing could be further from the truth! Aslan was certainly not given as much screentime when compared to the children. This is primarily because the children are the main characters and one must expect the main characters to be given more screentime. When I watched the movie, it seemed to me that Andrew Adamson was trying to convey the fact that Aslan came for one purpose and one purpose only: to redeem and to save. This is exactly what Lewis was trying to convey in his book as he drew an analogy between Aslan and Jesus Christ. After all, Christ's single purpose in coming to earth was to redeem and save humanity. One of my favorite scenes is at the very end when we see Aslan leaving Cair Paravel and walking alone down the beach as Lucy looks on. As tears begin to well up in her eyes, Tumnus walks up and comforts her. He tells her that Aslan is not a tame Lion, but he is good. He aslo tells her that the Great Lion comes and goes as he pleases and that no one knows when or where he will ever choose to show himself. If this is not the perfect picture of Christ, I don't know what is!
This movie is definitely one of my favorites and one that I think everyone needs to see. Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion of the Christ, was an obvious representation of Christ's sacrifice for mankind. Narnia is the same, but rather than being obvious, it is veiled within one of the 20th century's greatest works of literature. Thankfully, the same representation comes through just as clearly and powerfully in the movie as it does in the book. I think Mr. Lewis would be proud.