Thursday, March 30, 2006

Bad Blogger -- No Cookie

So there was no post from me yesterday, which I'm sure was a heartbreaking event in human history. I spent the afternoon at work moving my office one flight down in the same building (and the morning getting ready to move and trying to do a day's worth of work), which was a thrill.

My new office is better than my old office because: it's closer to the people I work with, it's not in a dead zone, the usable space is larger, it's all my own and has a door only I control.

My new office is worse than my old office because: there is no window (which I could actually open and close), it is one floor lower, I don't have a second desk to use as an extended outbox, and the hooks on the back of the door aren't as big.

All in all, I like the new digs. And it only took an hour or so to move, which was nice.

I had no time to blog in the evening because The Wife and I spent the time watching King Kong. (We had it in our Netflix queue, and I guess we just got lucky -- I don't know why else we would have gotten it first.) My, that's a long movie.

It's also, sadly, a lousy movie. The mixed reviews really didn't do justice to just how deeply lousy it is. The camera does every trick in the book in a failed attempt to keep the viewer's interest. Lots of characters explain their motivation to each other, or directly to the audience, in dialogue that isn't precisely bad so much as vastly boring. Every single scene runs on too long, several of them (the great Dinosaur Avalanche and the Kong-T. Rex battle) ludicrously so. The CGI is laughably bad in spots, especially during the stampede scene. The action runs entirely at the speed of plot, speeding up where necessary and disappearing (like those biplanes at the end, who take very long turns in between strafing runs) where the poignancy meter needs to be jacked up. And Peter Jackson insists on trying to wring huge pockets of tension out of situations where we already know the outcome. (Will Ann take the job? Will Jack get off the ship? Will the ship be smashed? Will Ann die? Will Jack die? Will Ann die? Will Carl die? Will Ann die? Will Ann die? Will Ann die? Will anyone at all die in any way we feel the slightest emotion about?)

The Wife and I gave up taking it seriously and started making fun of it about forty-five minutes in, which made it pleasant to watch for a while. It's quite suitable for the MST3K treatment, especially during the long, long scenes where all you can hear are various sound effects and Naomi Watts running repeatedly through the phonetic alphabet. Still, The Wife was going to give up on the movie during the interminable capturing-Kong sequence, and I could only convince her to stay by reminding her that she couldn't miss Kong on the Empire State Building after already watching for more than two damn hours. We found it particularly fun to make up our own dialogue for the Ann-Kong scenes, where they're clearly trying to talk about the relationship entirely in pantomime.

It's a nice-looking movie (except for the unconvincing CGI), and Jack Black engagingly chews on the scenery, but King Kong either lost something very large when it left the big screen or all of those critics were just being extraordinarily kind. It is a big mess, and it should have been edited down to under two hours.

Not that Peter Jackson would take my advice about anything, but, Peter, baby? For your next movie, pick an existing, original script, about 90-100 pages long, using a single set, no special effects, and no more than five actors. Maybe do a Dogma 95 thing. Big is not your friend right now, Peter; big is killing you. It's time to get small.

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