Peter Jackson King Kong is a great example of how to remake a movie. You take the essence of the original and expand it with modern technology and deeper storytelling, while staying true to the story. But it’s often debated among Kong fans as to whether the 2005 narrative goes beyond the 1933 original directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernst Schoedsack.
Whichever side of the fence you sit on, there are definitely things 2005 Kong does better than the original. From fleshy characters to visual art and sound, Jackson used modern storytelling techniques to get the most out of his film. Here are ten things Peter Jackson’s King Kong does much better than the original 1933 version.
10) The connection between Ann and Kong
Contrary to King Kong 1933, Jackson’s King Kong In fact, Ann reciprocates the romantic connection Kong develops for her. While 30s Ann was constantly afraid of her simian admirer, 2005 Ann feels the connection with Kong and gradually begins to trust him for her life. She realizes that the great ape isn’t there to hurt her – he is, in fact, protect her and remains her best chance at surviving on Skull Island.
Several beautiful scenes show us the sweet side of Kong, Ann even entertaining him with her Vaudeville act. Only a heart of stone couldn’t go limp when Kong laughed at his impromptu spectacle. The Central Park scene where Ann and Kong play stunned also demonstrates their connection, as they clearly have a deep meaning in each other’s lives and enjoy each other’s company. This makes Kong’s death even more tragic than that of 1933.
9) a sympathetic Jack Driscoll
Jack Driscoll by Bruce Cabot from 1933 King Kong is truly a product of its time. A cliché of masculine masculinity, he is the stereotypical virile man young boys dream of becoming, who thinks that “girls smell bad.” The first companion Driscoll is not only sexist against women, but falls in love with Ann in a day. It is awkwardly written and unfriendly.
By comparison, Adrien Brody’s Jack Driscoll is likable as a romantic leader. The character is a deep and sensitive man who enjoys being a writer. Her relationship with Ann Darrow is much more endearing due to their love of the arts and is also amplified by the chemistry of Adrien Brody and Naomi Watts. And as the average man ripped from cozy New York City to dangerous Skull Island, we can’t help but cheer on Jack as he gives up his natural comforts to save Ann from Kong.
9) Ann is not your typical damsel in distress
Ann Darrow from Fay Wray from the 1933s King Kong exudes the stereotypical damsel in distress trope at a tee. She spends most of the movie kicking and screaming at Kong’s clutches. She makes no effort to escape him or the other dangers on the island until Jack saves her.
Although Ann plays the same role in the 2005 remake, she demonstrates more independence and freedom of thought than her 1933 counterpart. For example, in an attempt to win favor with her simian captor, she slyly uses her experience as a vaudeville actress to amuse her with an impromptu performance. However, when the great ape asks for more, Ann bravely rejects his request, causing him to sulk and give him the opportunity to escape.
Ann’s intelligence helps the character to become more sympathetic with the audience. A welcome development of 1933 Kong’s one-dimensional howling damsel.
8) The King Kong CGI
Like the first jurassic park, 2005 King Kong has aged admirably technically. The flora and fauna of Skull Island are always remarkably lifelike, and Kong himself is incredibly majestic.
Now, stop-motion animation was revolutionary for the Kong era of 1933. Even to this day, it’s hard not to return to it with great respect for its technical innovations. But alas, advanced CGI technology makes Jackson’s film visually superior.
From the details of Kong’s facial expressions to the idiosyncratic features of the creatures to the stunning recreation of 1930s New York, CGI 2005 brings the world of the film to life. By comparison, the world of the 1933 original feels lifeless and empty. It doesn’t grab you in the same way as the iteration of Jackson, feeling bland in comparison. Kong 2005 captures footage the original couldn’t dream of.
7) Better soundtrack
James Newton Howard wins again. A movie like King Kong needs a soundtrack that encapsulates its grandiose story, orchestrating its tense moments and tender scenes while amplifying the tragedy. And wouldn’t you know – the 2005 score does it. From the triumphant score that blows whenever Kong seems to save the day to Central Park’s love-themed piano lead by a weird and mysterious strings piano playing as the film crew and sailors begin their journey through the Jungles of Skull Island, Howard is firing all cylinders here.
The King Kong 1933 soundtrack is definitely iconic and deserves the utmost respect. However, he doesn’t capture the diversity of emotions Howard realizes with his score. Other than the main theme, there are no standout moments from the original soundtrack and it lacks the memorization of its 2005 successor.
6) a darker Carl Denham
Carl Denham was quite the trickster in the original, but still charming and likeable. You got the feeling that even despite his cinematic ambitions, he cared a little about others. He even retained a sense of respect from his peers, despite his dangerous reputation. Jack Black’s Carl Denham, on the other hand, is more interesting. He is an ambitious filmmaker who admires the profession. Yet its investors are losing confidence in its ability to produce salable films. His trip to Skull Island is a desperate attempt to prove his relevance in his industry. For this reason, Denham’s stakes are much higher than those of his 1933 counterpart. He is on the run with his reputation at stake.
As King Kong 2005 progresses, Carl becomes less and less popular. His film is all that matters to him and he will do anything to preserve it. It means filming the deaths of sailors and making vacant speeches on how he will end the film in memory of his fallen comrades. His increasingly obvious moral vacancy makes him a compelling anti-hero. This makes his decision to gas Kong and take him to New York more believable than his 1933 counterpart.
5) The fights are more tense
The fighting in 1933 King Kong are of course amazing for their time. It is unimaginable to think how amazed audiences of the 1930s were watching them in theaters.
So when Peter Jackson remade King Kong with modern CGI technology, it made sense for the fights to be more impressive. And wouldn’t you know it? This is exactly how they turned out. Kong moves with all the superb weight of a wrestler, mercilessly defeating his scaly foes. Equally threatening are the newly redesigned dinosaurs, snapping their jaws at Kong while eagerly pursuing Ann. Kong’s efforts to protect Ann while fending off them allow for an intense view of the edge of your seat that the Kong 1933 does not reach.
4) Themes are better explored
One of the biggest themes of King Kong is mankind’s penchant for selfish gain. By kidnapping Kong and removing him from his natural surroundings, Denham indirectly causes the great tragedy of the film. Yet that’s not one of Denham’s preoccupations – all he’s interested in is using Kong to earn fame and fortune.
Although this theme is in the original, King Kong 2005 explores it even more. It’s thanks to Jack Black’s greedy and selfish Carl Denham – Jack Driscoll describes him as having a “unwavering ability to destroy everything he loves”. After sacrificing the lives of several sailors to film a movie that never happened, Denham uses the monkey as theatrical fun to line his pockets. He even forgets the sacrifices of his friends, Herb and Mike, who lose their lives on the island and to whom he initially promises that they would be honored for their part.
Denham is King KongA physical representation of capitalist greed without conscience, and this is beautifully shown here.
3) Skull Island is even more dangerous
Peter Jackson’s origins lie as a horror director, so it’s no surprise that filmmaker Kiwi put some creepy elements into his film. While Skull Island was undeniably dangerous in 1933, the 2005 version is even more so – not to mention horrible.
For starters, the islanders are both threatening and mysterious. They possess a seemingly cannibalistic nature, have greasier hair, rotten teeth, and violent instincts. This is complemented by their strange skull symbol, representing their mortal nature. And that’s just the Islanders – the V-Rex, Swamp Creature, and Brontosaurus give off a level of threat that the first movie lacks. Jackson’s decision to reinsert the deleted scene from “ the giant spider ” from Cooper and Schoedsack’s masterpiece only adds to the island horror that was otherwise lacking.
2) Representation of Peter Jackson from New York in the 1930s
Like the 1970s remake, Peter Jackson could have made the film a contemporary play. He did not do it. Instead, he set the film to 1933 – the year the first film was released. It turns out that was a great decision overall for the film.
Ironically, Jackson describes the Great Depression better than the original – which was shoot at that time. In the first scenes we see how difficult it is to make money, to survive in the big city for those who are not financially lucky. This is reflected in Ann, whose acting career is in tatters at the start.
Again, King Kong also portrays the whimsical side of this era, from cars to the sartorial sense to those brilliant Vaudeville acts. The sets are meticulously designed to mimic the era, an atmosphere oozing at every turn. Jackson captures 1930s New York in a far more impressive way than Kong of 1933.
1) It really pulls on the sensitive strings
It is a combination of several points raised in this list, but it is a point that deserves to be emphasized. Jackson King Kong is more heartbreaking and more powerful than the original could ever hope for. The reason? Well, for a lot of things highlighted in this list.
From more in-depth and likable characters (including Kong himself) to the tender moments between Ann and Kong, to the imagery, even to the tragedy of the sailors who lost their lives in pursuit of Ann … the movie uses cutting edge technology and storytelling techniques to wrest more emotion from our hearts than Cooper and Schoedack’s version ever could.
King Kong shows Peter Jackson’s skill as a storyteller. Taking your favorite childhood movie and turning it into modern cinema gold shows us the potential of Hollywood remakes. If a passionate artist takes the reins, you will end up with a product that is as satisfying creatively as it is commercially.
Do you prefer the Kong of 1933 or the Kong of 2005? Let us know in the comments below!
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