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Oscar Audience to Decline

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 12:17 am - February 27, 2006.
Filed under: Movies/Film & TV

Although the TV show Commander in Chief did quite well in his first weeks on the air, I predicted that its ratings would soon drop and it would be canceled after no more than one season. Alas, that I did not make this prediction public. ABC put the show on hiatus last month because its ratings were “in a free fall.” So, today, barely a week before the telecast of the Oscars, I will make public my prediction that the Oscar audience will decline this year, though it may register an increase in gay households.

I’m not really going out on a limb in saying this. A number of people have been predicting as much. In the February 3 edition of OpinionJournal’s Political Diary (available by subscription), John Fund wrote:

The TV ratings for next month’s Oscar award ceremonies in Hollywood will show a continued slide, and one very large reason is that few Americans will have even seen the five movies nominated for best picture this week by a show-business community increasingly obsessed with left-wing causes rather than movie making.

As Liberty Film Festival co-director Jason Apuzzo put it, the Academy Awards have devolved into just another marketing tool for ‘indie’ films nobody’s seen.” To be sure, every year, there are a number of first-rate independent films, many as good as, if not better than the best of the Hollywood flicks. But, those quality independent features tend to explore universal themes (often in a quirky manner) and appeal to a broad audience. Not so with this year’s nominees. Only two of the films nominated for Best Picture (Brokeback Mountain and Crash) earned more than $50 million at the box office (and the latter just barely). This past weekend, just one week before the ceremony, Munich brought in a pathetic $1,501 per theater.

It’s not just the Oscar nominees that aren’t making money, last year the movie business experienced a huge slump in ticket sales. Filmmaker Evan Coyne Maloney believes fewer people went to the movies last year because Hollywood has focused more on the tastes of the Tinseltown’s denizens than those in the American heartland:

Hollywood is making films that Hollywood wants to consume, not necessarily what the rest of America does. Hollywood needs to decide whether it wants to be a political party or whether it wants to entertain.

(H/t: Instapundit.) And by tapping Jon Stewart, a man known for his political and media satire rather than his love of movies, as the host of the Oscar ceremony, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences seems more interested in promoting social commentary (of a leftish sort) than quality filmmaking.

I remain stunned that the Oscar snubbed The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, clearly one of the best movies of the year, a film which not only earned critical acclaim but also did well as the Box Office. Did the Academy not wish to acknowledge a flick with a Christian theme?

Whatever the case, with Jon Stewart hosting and a number of movies with promoting “social change” to be honored, the Oscar ceremony will generate more interest among left-of-center politicoes than movie buffs. After all, those of us who love great movies prefer those flicks with universal themes which easily appeal to individuals with a number of different (and often conflicting) political perspectives, films which remind us of our common humanity and tell stories capable of standing the test of time.

Instead of doing what Hollywood has done well for the better part of the last century (the century in which movies came to dominate our popular culture), Hollywood elites decided this year to pay tribute to Hollywood’s elites and their narrow vision of the world. Not only are the Oscars honoring movies that few people have seen,but they are also honoring movies with themes that (for the most part) few people outside the “bluest” enclaves of America care about. And just as the box office declines when Hollywood makes movies which appeal only to a narrow section of the populace, so too will the Oscar audience decline when Hollywood honors such flicks.

-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com

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32 Comments

  1. I haven’t seen a good Indy movie since Clerks.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — February 27, 2006 @ 12:44 am - February 27, 2006

  2. Dan, give me a freakin’ break, will ya?

    To begin with, my esteemed colleague, Mr. Maloney, is about as qualified to comment on the nature of the film industry as a soccer mom discussing bath houses. While I certainly agree with the points raised in his one-and-only film “Brainwashing 101,” his assertion that we out here in the Land of Silk & Money are only interested in getting an agenda across is grossly simplistic at best, and is more commonly heard from disillusioned screenwriters & pissed-off, unsuccessful film school graduates.

    Eric in Hollywood

    Comment by HollywoodNeoCon — February 27, 2006 @ 1:31 am - February 27, 2006

  3. Dan, I don’t really disagree with much of what you’ve posted. But I’m not sure that liberal Hollywood’s interest in producing “message” movies is as responsible for the drop in total grosses as some contend.

    Unless I missed a blockbuster in my research, no movie released in 2005 — even those with broad appeal — came close to the domestic gross of 2004’s “The Passion of the Christ” (domestic: $370,782,930). “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” came closest with a domestic gross of $288,218,866.

    Some of the films expected to be major hits fell short of expectations. “King Kong” was the best example. SHow business media hyped it as certain to equal or top “Titanic” but it’s domestic gross of $216,689,000 was fourth behind “Chronicles of Narnia” ($288,164,000). “Harry Potter” and “War of the Worlds” ($234,280,354). (While “King Kong” is still a fairly “new” movie it’s now showing in but a handful of theaters.)

    Yes, the “message” indies didn’t do well at the box office but neither did the broad appeal “blockbusters”.

    I think the cost is a factor. Movie tickets are only $7.50 where I live but that’s $30 for a family of four plus another $30 for four medium colas and four medium popcorns. ($15 and $15 for a couple.) And it’s worse on the coasts, where tickets are $10. Is it any wonder that more and more people are opting to wait until movies come out as DVDs and the entire family can enjoy a film for $4.95.

    The wait for a hit movie to come out on DVD is relatively short these days and it’s probably worth the wait for families who’ve invested huge sums of money in the latest home entertainment systems. Why fight for a parking place at the megaplex when you have the latest big screen high definition plasma set with a theater quality sound system in the family room?

    I do disagree with you, Dan, on the selection of Jon Stewart (whom I don’t particularly like) as Oscar host. I doubt that producers thought about the liberal tone he might add to the evening’s festivities as much as ABC thought about the demographics he’ll bring to advertisers buying time on the show. (Billy Crystal appealed to an older audience.) But I do agree that even with Stewart’s appeal to a younger, hipper audience, numbers will be down from previous years.

    Also, Dan, don’t be so quick to write off “Commander-in-Chief” (my favorite new show). In addition to poor ratings against its “American Idol” competition, one of the reasons for the show’s hiatus until spring is early production problems limited it to 18 episodes (four short of a regular season). I’m not predicting it, but it won’t surprise me if ABC finds a better time slot for the show on its fall schedule. The reason? The average income in households that tune in is high. Just the kind of audience some advertisers want.

    Comment by Jack Allen — February 27, 2006 @ 2:23 am - February 27, 2006

  4. Thanks for the numbers, Jack. I was just too lazy tonight to do my own box office research.

    Incidentally, watch Hollywood in the next year or so, as we collectively explore the possibility of releasing new films in EVERY format on the same day. Should be a hoot!

    Eric in LaLaLand

    Comment by HollywoodNeoCon — February 27, 2006 @ 3:14 am - February 27, 2006

  5. his assertion that we out here in the Land of Silk & Money are only interested in getting an agenda across is grossly simplistic at best, and is more commonly heard from disillusioned screenwriters & pissed-off, unsuccessful film school graduates.

    Would you rather hear it from us average folks who determine whether or not an actor keeps their “career” or wind up doing Hallmark Channel or Lifetime Original Movies for their lunch money?

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — February 27, 2006 @ 5:25 am - February 27, 2006

  6. Why fight for a parking place at the megaplex when you have the latest big screen high definition plasma set with a theater quality sound system in the family room?

    Somebody’s got a better gig than I do. How about some liberal “hand outs” here?

    In addition to poor ratings against its “American Idol” competition,

    Crap vs. Crap. Which one will come out on top as the crappiest show?
    One thing’s for sure, CIC has better acting and is far more believable.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — February 27, 2006 @ 5:32 am - February 27, 2006

  7. I think there are multiple issues at work.

    I am a mom, I admit I don’t see too many movies that don’t come with a G or PG rating until they come out on video. I also in general avoid R rated movies-sex, violence, and horror in general do not appeal to me.

    But I also haven’t watched the Oscars in years, I might read who won in the paper the next day, but sitting for three or four hours watching a bunch of left wing actresses and actors give each other pats on the back isn’t a way I want to spend my free time.

    I do think the Academy has a left wing bent that comes with an anti Christian twist (if you want to argue, somebody tell me the last overtly Christian themed movie that was nominated for an Oscar). I am not seeing how Munich gets a nod, when Narnia didn’t, and Swinton absolutely got snubbed-her role as the White Witch was amazing.

    But I also think Hollywood has been making bigger and bigger stinkers as well. Sometimes it seems like Hollywood is stuck in remakes of old Television shows and old movies. I mean is there a reason they had to remake Poisiden Adventure? I saw the first one, it was a good movie, but I won’t waste $7 seeing the remake.

    Comment by just me — February 27, 2006 @ 8:05 am - February 27, 2006

  8. As a film school student, I am absolutely disgusted with garbage hollywood chooses to honor. Last years oscars were a disgrace and the movies that won awards were 100% unworthy with the exception of million dollar baby. There is no way in hell that the Prothetics in “A Series of Unfortunate Events” were better than the ones in “The Passion of the Christ.” No picture was even in its league when it came to cinematography, except maybe “Phantom of the Opera” which should have won best adapted screenplay, costume design, and production design, cause the Aviator’s design blew. The Aviator did not show creativity, all the designers had to do was look in a history book rather than into their imaginations. Also, “Finding Neverland” did not deserve best original score over the score in “The Passion of the Christ.” Look at the sales, no one even saw Finding Neverland, let alone bought the soundtrack, which probably wasn’t even out for sale. And for Best Actor, Jim Caviezal went through hell in his performance (dislocated his shoulder, was struct by lightning) as Jesus while Johnny Depp just shaved his ugly face and did a fake pathetic accent in Finding Neverland. And Best Actress, just give it to Emmy Rossum. She was 16 when she was cast as Christine for Phantom of the Opera, 17 when it was filmed, and 18 when it was released. I’ve been acting since I was 16 and it’s hard as hell to do when school, work, time with friends, and other stresses interfere. So give her a freakin’ award.

    And all who are like me, rest assured, when I begin my film making career, my films will be the oxygen mask for your survival against the carbon monoxide of Finding Neverland and Brokeback (or Buttcrack) Mountain.

    Comment by Mike — February 27, 2006 @ 10:50 am - February 27, 2006

  9. i have a masters in film hist/crit.

    there is NO DOUBT that the mvies nominated are of interest to – and enjoyed by – a relatively small segment of the us pop. and there can be no doubt that this will effect ratings for the oscars.

    the leftist bias of hwood is WORSe than the rest of the msm, and the nominations reflect this. hwood is in a bubble.

    remember the kael quote about mcgovern’s loss: “i don’t believe it; EVERYONE I KNOW voted for mcgovern!!??!”

    if hwood made more movies which were more traditional/borgeoise/judeo-christian in theme than it would do better.

    the problem is they can only make&dist a limited number of movies for theatrical distribution and given their obvious biases, they favor movies with themes which are leftist.

    blogs and large-flat screen TV’s and “direct to dvd distr” might be able – one day – to circumvent and make vestgial theatrical dist. this might make availability of more movies of every type.

    thisn is more likely to happen BEFORE the institutions of the entertainment segment of the msm become less dominated by lefties.

    this is because lefties hire lefties and promote lefties and buy leftie scripts and nominate leftie movies – etc.

    Comment by reliapundit — February 27, 2006 @ 11:26 am - February 27, 2006

  10. BA in Radio, Video, Film.

    It’s kinda funny. People are complaining that the Oscars honor a bunch of artsy indie movies that appeals to the Academy and apparently no one else. The Grammy’s have devolved into nominating the biggest selling albums and songs and rewarding them for their success and not their artistry.

    Yawn.

    Both of these awards are noting more than popularity contests; one based on the consensus of the Hollywood elite, and the other on the consensus of product sold. Entertainment awards in general stopped being important to the general public years ago, because IMO, they have lost the illusion of glamor and mystery. In both cases, making film and music, the general public is now keenly aware that both are dominated by business principles. Not that they weren’t dominated in this fashion before, it’s just the public is more aware of it on todays world. Take the Garmmys in 1982. Toto won seven, including Album and Record of the Year. Don’t get me wrong, I love Toto and learned how to play bass by learning many of their songs. But that certainly wasn’t the best record put out that year. Try “Love Over Gold” by Dire Straits. Compare the first cuts off each album. In my opinion “Telegraph Road” is a better song than “Roseanna”. But again, that is a subjective opinion. And, in hindsight, of the albums and records that WERE nominated in 82, Toto was probably the best choice.

    The whole awards show concept to me is kinda silly anyway because of the subjective nature of art. Was “Gone With The Wind” better or more enduring than “Wizzard of Oz”? Was “Ghandi” a better film than the original version of “ET”? In the 80’s, there was always the question of which guitarist was better, Eddie Van Halen, or fill-in-the-blank. I aways answered that you can’t really call one better than the other, because each is an individual artist, and brings different styles and techniques and styles to the table. It’s art. Movies and music are the same.

    There is no way in hell that the Prosthetics in “A Series of Unfortunate Events” were better than the ones in “The Passion of the Christ.”

    The prosthetic (if that’s what you meant) used in “Series” to me can’t be compared to “POTC” because one is meant to invoke whimsy, and the other is deadly serious.

    Comment by sonicfrog — February 27, 2006 @ 12:56 pm - February 27, 2006

  11. Just Me, you raise an interesting point when you say ” I am not seeing how Munich gets a nod,” in the context of overtly Christian themes. Munich is on still-to-see list, so I am going of second-hand reports, but apparently one of the slams it is getting is that it puts the terrorists and the Mossad on too equal of terms, because the point of the movie is that retaliation is pointless and degrading. That is about as bluntly Christian a theme as you can get. It routinely comes up as a a irreducible obstacle in interfaith discussions of ethics. (It is fundamental disconnects like these that make the term Judeo-Christian so meaningless and unchristian.)

    Think of films you have seen that rest on an assumption that we are all flawed and our best efforts at being good can never come to much (pretty much all the Clint Eastwood movies). Chocolat was purely about the tension between faith and works, and I am sure that we could dig out about five or six hundred more movies with Christian themes over a cup of coffee. If these don’t present as overtly Christian, it may be because Christian themes are universal and to be found everywhere in daily life rather than just being comfortable and familiar little stock phrases and cultural expressions.

    Comment by Jim — February 27, 2006 @ 1:03 pm - February 27, 2006

  12. One more thing. In todays world, due to the marvels of home computer based audio / video editing suites, it is getting easier and easier for the average Joe to make and create his own videos, films, and music, without having to rely on the film and music industry. You don’t have to get signed or discovered anymore. The monopoly is mute. That’s surely another reason why the glamor has faded.

    Comment by sonicfrog — February 27, 2006 @ 1:05 pm - February 27, 2006

  13. Why sit through it? Anything memorable that night will be re-broadcast endlessly on every station not to mention every blog site. I’m sure we’ll a montage of Jon Stewart’s mugging like a chimp for the camera.

    Comment by Tom — February 27, 2006 @ 3:56 pm - February 27, 2006

  14. Jim I mean overtly in the sense that the Christian theme isn’t in doubt. The Christian themes of good verses evil are more universal. But take Narnia, it can certainly be appreciated for the fantasy aspect, while the overt Christianity is ignored, but it is overtly Christian, right down to the symbolism clearly correlating to stories in the Bible-a good example being the destruction of the stone table in the book/movie and the tearing of the veil in the temple. My point is if you have to stretch to get it to the “Christian theme” point, then it probably isn’t Christian themed enough to get ignored.

    And there haven’t been too many overtly Christian themed movies that get nominated-The Passion being a good example of a good film that was ignored in recent years.

    The most recent one, with overt Christian themes that I remember I believe was The Mission, and that was from the early 90’s.

    But I saw Finding Neverland and while it was a good film (I didn’t care much for it, but then I tend to like happy endings, which also in general don’t fit the Academy’s idea of what makes good film, since they tend to nominate films where at least one of the main characters dies), I don’t think it was a better movie than The Passion. But then I will admit film and what is good is in the eye of the beholder, and apparantly the Academy and I are in total disagreement, which is why I in general don’t watch.

    Comment by just me — February 27, 2006 @ 5:08 pm - February 27, 2006

  15. Years ago, I had seen most of the Oscar-nominated movies; so I had a vested-interest in the outcome. The last few years, I haven’t seen ANY of the “important” nominated movies, so I really have no connection to “what” they are being awareded-for. This year I’ve not seen any of the “best picture” movies yet…even BBM. (…I’m afraid of those two shirts in the closet.) And without consulting the list, I don’t think I’ve seen any of the “acting” or “supporting” performances.

    Comment by Ted B. (Charging Rhino) — February 27, 2006 @ 8:32 pm - February 27, 2006

  16. GPW, do we know that when films with huge box office totals are lauded at the Oscars, the ratings go up? According to this, when Out of Africa won Best Picture, the Oscars had one of their all-time worst ratings.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/03/24/oscar/main545821.shtml

    I think that the ratings for the year Terms of Endearment won were also not the greatest.

    Should the Oscars only award big box office films? I don’t know if I want to see Big Momma’s House 2 or Pink Panther winning Best Picture next year.

    Comment by Carl — February 27, 2006 @ 8:39 pm - February 27, 2006

  17. Carl, you raise a good point and we will soon see if my prediction is accurate — or if I’m going to be eating crow next week!

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — February 27, 2006 @ 9:03 pm - February 27, 2006

  18. GPW, I think the ratings probably will be low, but most of the awards show ratings are low now. The same goes for beauty pageants, and the Olympics. These used to be events that brought the country together. Now with cable and with all the polarization of America, people see no need to flock around one huge event. I know some people on the far right will try to blame any ratings declines on gays, but I think this has been happening for quite some time.

    Comment by Carl — February 27, 2006 @ 9:19 pm - February 27, 2006

  19. Watch the Oscars? NOT!

    As pointed out by Gay Patriot (Oscar Audience to Decline) there will most certainly be fewer folks watching this year’s Academy Awards broadcast. I know for a fact there will be at least one person not watching. . . I’m

    Trackback by Eureka Iron Works — February 27, 2006 @ 9:29 pm - February 27, 2006

  20. #10
    I aways answered that you can’t really call one better than the other, because each is an individual artist, and brings different styles and techniques and styles to the table.

    Yeah that’s true, but Neil Peart is the best drummer ever.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — February 27, 2006 @ 10:14 pm - February 27, 2006

  21. Eric in Hollywood, I’m surprised you didn’t catch my error.

    There WAS one film in 2005 that topped the “Passion’s” domestic box office in ’04. It was “Star Wars III” which had a domestic gross of $380,270,577. But “Star Wars III”, the number one box office hit in ’05, fell short of the top 2004 film, “Shrek 2” which had a domestic gross of $441,226,247.

    Comment by Jack Allen — February 27, 2006 @ 11:36 pm - February 27, 2006

  22. That is about as bluntly Christian a theme as you can get.

    There is nothing Christian about moral relativism — which is, by definition, amoral.

    Comment by rightwingprof — February 28, 2006 @ 9:35 am - February 28, 2006

  23. … but Neil Peart is the best drummer ever.

    I’ll take your Peart, and counter with either Stu Copeland, Jeff Porcaro or pre-solo career Phil Collins (not that I don’t like his solo work, but his best drumming was prior to that period).

    Comment by sonicfrog — February 28, 2006 @ 11:40 am - February 28, 2006

  24. Sonicfrog said…

    “I’ll take your Peart, and counter with either Stu Copeland, Jeff Porcaro or pre-solo career Phil Collins…”

    And I’ll counter with Tool’s Danny Carey, and ANY DRUMMER who has marched with a Top 12 Drum Corps International drumline.

    But to get back to the topic at hand, kudos to Jack for pointing out his mistake (and my lack of attention to detail) regarding domestic grosses and their relation to Oscar noms. With that in mind, I would reiterate something I’ve stated regarding this issue: That AMPAS has never nominated a film based exlcusively on either it’s message or it’s box office returns. You may say I’m smoking the company dope here, but I respect the Academy’s decisions, especially when considering the fact that the Oscar’s were NOT originally intended to become a PR event for the industry. The fact that they have become just that notwithstanding, I admire both the Academy’s and AFI’s record of honoring well made (NOT necessarily popular, mind you) films.

    Yes, Virginia, I am a queer AND a corporate whore, but I’m glad to say I have the courage of my convictions, for whatever they’re worth.

    Eric in Hollywood

    Comment by HollywoodNeoCon — February 28, 2006 @ 12:12 pm - February 28, 2006

  25. Regarding the post,

    So, today, barely a week before the telecast of the Oscars, I will make public my prediction that the Oscar audience will decline this year…

    Nice prediction. Do a graph for the ratings for the Oscars over the last 15 years or so and post it. I would almost be willing to bet that the ratings have been on a downslide for a number of years. Why? Because they have usually been pretentious, over-produced and boring, regardless of who has been nominated. They apparently have reined in the excesses that used to make the Oscar program go well into overtime, but that’s about it.

    And because there are other opportunities, particularly over the computer. I would suspect that the Oscars chose Jon Stewart to host the program this year because he–as a comedian–does have something of a following among younger people, and they hope that he will be able to get some to watch. His selection probably has nothing to do with whether he likes movies, or his politics. It has everything to do with ratings and money.

    We won’t be watching the Oscars. We didn’t watch the Stupor Bowl. We didn’t watch any of the Torino Winter Olympics. And we won’t watch the Oscars. We will be watching a movie that we will have rented from Blockbuster. And maybe Desperate Housewives.

    Comment by raj — February 28, 2006 @ 5:42 pm - February 28, 2006

  26. “That is about as bluntly Christian a theme as you can get.

    There is nothing Christian about moral relativism — which is, by definition, amoral. ”

    There is nothing even remotely amoral or “relativist” about the Sermon on the Mount. Don’t presume to comment about other people’s religions – you are obviously ignorant of Christianity – unless you bother to do at least some minimal study and make an attempt at understanding.

    Comment by Jim — March 1, 2006 @ 1:44 pm - March 1, 2006

  27. There is nothing even remotely amoral or “relativist” about the Sermon on the Mount.

    The Sermon on the Mount is not moral relativism, nor is it liberalism, unless you happen to subscribe to the Castro fan club that refers to itself as Christian, represented by so-called “mainline” protestants, such as Methodists, Episcopalians, etc., all of whom abandoned Christianity and any kind of Christian theology decades ago.

    Comment by rightwingprof — March 1, 2006 @ 5:13 pm - March 1, 2006

  28. The 1st Annual Decision ‘08 Academy Awards Spectacular

    Yes, we all know finding a conservative at the Academy Awards is harder than playing Where’s Waldo, but hey, it’s the Oscars…
    In honor of the annual craptacular fiasco, I’m posting a never-ending Oscar thread that will simulat…

    Trackback by Decision '08 — March 5, 2006 @ 11:28 am - March 5, 2006

  29. oscars decline not a surprise, one reason that fails to get mentioned but is definitely in play from last year to this year…for the first time ever black people watched the oscars last year; this year not so much…

    on the movies, i haven’t seen one oscar nominated film, not because i hate causes, just that if i am going to leave my house to fight traffic to put up with a bunch of punks at a movie i need to come out happy. i don’t need a discussion of the latest trials and tribulations of the underclass, forgotten, and abused. furthermore hollywood has proven that it is incapable of putting out a consistent product, as such, my ten dolla is better spent elsewhere.

    yeah, and there is nothing worst then well paid people, who feel the need to honor themselves for public viewing. it is like a 3 hour commercial remind you of movies you didn’t see, should see, and maybe even rent if not buy.

    call me when they start saluting the workingman. please!

    Comment by ralph — March 6, 2006 @ 10:49 pm - March 6, 2006

  30. Hi, How about a hobby in Costume making? I love doing it! And, after a while, why not rent them out? Very rewarding indeed! Keep up the good work! Regards, Sheila. 😉

    Comment by Costume Makers — March 12, 2006 @ 5:41 am - March 12, 2006

  31. Hi I am Angelique, 16 years of age from France, and I make costumes for my hobby. I plan to make my own costume rental business someday. I like blogging as well, as I can tell everybody about my hobby. Bye everybody! 🙂

    Comment by Costume Makers — March 12, 2006 @ 1:52 pm - March 12, 2006

  32. King Kong was an awesome film. If your love is for High Fantasy, Jungle folklore, sociocultural commentary, tart satirical thrust, or a tragic romance of lost souls, Peter Jacksons KING KONG is a whopper of a great tale. A telling narrative of desperate lives caught up in the desperate times of The Great Depression, this KING KONG showcases what desperation will drive one to do, and the price to be paid for such ventures. Those who thrilled to what Jackson, his co-writers, and his SFX team at WETA achieved in bring THE LORD OF THE RINGS to cinematic life will not be let down here. Those who swear by that classic RKO original starring Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong will have much reason to cheer. The basic innocence of that original has been enhanced by Jackson astutely depicting the corruptive period from which it sprang. The Depression -a cheery Al Jolson at the start of the film notwithstanding- was anything but a good time. Special notice must be paid to Jack Black (whose Carl Denham is less the film warrior of Robert Armstrong , and more the okeydoke peddler), Evan Parke (whose Hayes is a wary figure of tragic wisdom), Adrien Brody (whose Jack Driscoll is a brilliant commentary on the struggle of creative artists amidst commercial booshwah) and Naomi Watts (whose Ann Darrow does the renowned ingénue played by Fay Wray proud, while adding layers of wit and depth all her own) Too, Andy Serkis (who stunned us as Gollum in the RING trilogy) delivers a Chaplin-worthy tour de force of thespian body language as the Great Ape. Between the insightful pantomime of Serkis, and the equally inspired Broadway trouping of Watts, the story is centered not on lust misplaced, but haunted travelers striking a deep, ill-fated bond. Get the 2 disc special edition if you want a deeper look into the art of filmmaking. Whatever you choose, pick up this film, and enjoy its absorbing, enchanted tale.

    Comment by King Kong — April 1, 2006 @ 8:27 pm - April 1, 2006

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