King Kong

1280_king-kong.jpgBack in 1994, James Berardinelli wrote a review arguing that CGI had relegated Willis O’Brien’s elaborate special-effects work in King Kong to the dustbin of history — that you couldn’t keep audiences on Skull Island once you had shown them Jurassic Park. He was so full of shit. (And seems to have come to his senses, judging from the substantially rewritten version now residing at his Web site.) Watching a TCM broadcast of King Kong tonight, I was struck by the visceral nature of the effects work. Does Kong look “realistic?” No. Neither, for all the careful artistry and craftsmanship that went into digitally painting the creases onto his green body, does Ang Lee’s ILM-conjured Hulk. But Kong exemplifies a sort of personal expressiveness and cinematic mysticism that’s all the more awesome for its apparent outmodedness.

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