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The Once and Future King (Kong)…

Wow, looks like those monster movie revivals show no signs of abating. King Kong is apparently next in line, getting the prequel treatment. There’s apparently an adaptation of a book Kong: King of Skull Island. It seems a rather quick revival for Kong, who seems to go through thirty-to-forty-year cycles of popularity.

Quit Monkeying Around...

Quit Monkeying Around...

I’ll admit that the giant monkey is iconic. Even people who haven’t seen any version of the story know the climax. Kong scales the Empire State Building with his little lady, gets attacked by bi-planes and machine guns and then falls to his death, miraculously landing without killing or destroying anything of note. Still, the relatively straight-forward story has some sort of hold over popular consciousness.

The original film by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack is a film school classic and one of the great early pulp American films. His other efforts – such as his “battle” against Godzilla in 1962’s aptly titled King Kong vs. Godzilla is even more pulpy and a lot more cult – it even has an urban myth around the ending. There’s the oft-forgotten 1976 remake starring Jeff Bridges and somewhat immodestly advertised as “The most exciting original motion picture event of all time”. Hmmmm… The most recent remake was Peter Jackson’s breathtaking but indulgent 2005 effort.

Jackson’s film (and indeed none of the remakes) was a huge success, so it’s a bit of a surprise to see another Kong-based work in development so fast. The book it is to be based on, Kong: King of Skull Island, was published as part of the hype surrounding Jackson’s remake and is unique in that it follows Kong in his home environment, the mystical and ridiculously lethal Skull Island. The movie is reportedly to be completely CGI (as opposed to Jackson’s effort which combined the two) and will follow the son of Jack Black’s character on a return trip to the island.

Paired with the now-aging scriptwriter (no word on whether Adrian Brody will return), the two slowly piece together the history of the island. Expect new dinosaur designs and any sense of mystery to be unravelled. That is perhaps the reason I am most worried about this project. That sense of wonder and magnificence is what really defines the films – and is responsible for many of the best moments in the saga, especially in Jackson’s film. I think that – unless the explanations offered are damn good – they should probably remain mysteries. Ah well, I guess we’ll see. Somehow I doubt a completely CGI film will set the box office alight.

On the upside, maybe it’ll mean a deluxe packaging of Jackson’s film, which I’ve been meaning to enjoy on Blu Ray (its best feature is the sense of spectacle) – but I can’t find a decent special edition. In fact, this project sounds suspiciously like it should be a DVD extra on Jackson’s film. Ah well, worse things have happened.

Still, I’m not sure it can count as a King Kong film if he doesn’t scale New York.

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