Old vs New King Kong
April 28th, 2010
Nostalgic Critic: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it, so you don't have to! And welcome to another edition of Old vs New.
The title card is shown, featuring an old man crossing his cane with a little boy's baseball bat, as dramatic music plays and lightning strikes.
NC: Who would have thought a story about a... giant monkey who falls in love with a woman, climbs buildings and smashes dinosaurs could be considered as classic?
Footage of original King Kong is shown along with the main theme of it
NC (Voiceover): Well, King Kong certainly was. When it was released in 1933, it captured the world's interest with its groundbreaking effects and a timeless story about what happened when two threatening natures collide. Since then there has been several remakes but they're such donkeys. And none of them has been considered on part with the original. That is, until 2005, when Peter Jackson took a shot of telling the story. This is the only version that people say it's not only as good as the original but possibly better. But can it truly outdo the classic? Is there really enough there to keep it fresh and new while staying true to the original?
NC: Well, let's find out! I.. never thought I'd be putting the position to say this but it's monkey versus money here on Nostalgia Critic! This is Old versus New King Kong!
The opening sequence plays as we see pictures of the main characters from both movies fly into the jungle, while the theme songs of both movies play side by side.
NC: Well, we can't tell this beauty and the beast story without our beauty!
Picture of Kong is shown.
NC (Voiceover): That is not the beauty. For most of us.
NC: I'm talking about our main actress who happens to play... the main actress. This is our Best Leading Lady.
Round 1 - Best Leading Lady
Footage of the leading lady from both movies are shown.
NC (Voiceover): Now both of these films have good charismatic actresses. Each has to have her charming personality and good looks to match in order to tame the beast. They are certainly different though. In the original, the character Ann Darrow is played by Fay Wray, who is constantly told that she doesn't belong on board.
Ann Darrow (1933): I wish you wouldn't keep harping on that. It's very mean of you.
Driscoll (1993): Woman, women can't help being a bother. They're made that way I guess.
The scene pauses and bright red word, Douche appears on Driscoll along with the voiceover of NC saying the word.
NC (Voiceover): Despite that though, she still keeps her optimistic point of view.
Ann Darrow (1933): Don't you think the Skipper is a sweet old lamb?
Driscoll (1933) (Laughing): I'd hate to have him hear me say so.
NC (Voiceover): In the newer version she's played by Naomi Watts, who's a little more welcomed down the ship.so she doesn't have to defend herself as much.
Herb: I say what a lovely dress.
Ann Darrow (2005): Oh! This old thing! I just threw it on.
NC (Voiceover): Both have to play the classic screaming damsel in distress and in terms of traditional screamers, Fay Wray is probably a little bit closer. But what portray has a little bit more edge to it? In the original, King Kong just sort of likes Darrow. And even though they make her very positive and energenic, all she does around Kong is screaming.
Clips of Fay Wray as Ann Darrow screaming is played.
NC (Voiceover): Granted we don't want to see anything bad happen to her but she doesn't do anything that would make Kong really like her. The newer one has to work for her to survive. It's indicated that Kong has killed dozens of sacrifices in the past, but because of her performance training, she's able to actually entertain Kong.
Jackson Version: Kong pushes Ann over and over. Ann resists.
NC (Voiceover): But even she has her limits.
Ann Darrow (2005): No! I said no! That's all there is.
NC (Voiceover): She's standing up to a ten story gorilla! That takes BALLS!...or ovaries, i don't know, but it takes a lot of them! Because of this, the newer version truly does have a better lead. She is just more interesting and takes more chances. The original is good too. You really do like her and don't wanna see her in danger but the scream just gets a little old after a while.
More clips of Fay Wray as Ann Darrow screaming is shown.
NC: Yeah, Scream some more. Maybe they'll finally go away.
Another clip of Fay Wray and Ann Darrow screaming. A clip of a comedy show where two men scream is shown.
NC: Point goes to the new.
Ann Darrow (1933): Oh dear. I thought everything was going so nicely.
Round 1 Winner - King Kong 2005 Version
NC: But what about the supporting casts? Do they match up just as well as the lead? Well, here's the little people who literally got stepped on to make it to the top.
Round 2 - Best Supporting Cast
NC (Voiceover): Let's start with the romantic one. In the original he's played by Bruce Cabot. A rough and gruff sailor who doesn't like the idea of women being on board his ship. Now why would that be?
A clip of African American sailors singing is shown.
NC (Voiceover): No, that's not it. In fact he actually ends up falling in love with her. Even if it is pretty... sporadic.
Driscoll (1933): if anything happened to you.
Ann Darrow (1933): Why then you wouldn't be bothered with a woman on board.
Driscoll (1933): Ann, I guess I love you.
NC: I've only known you for five minutes, but... if a giant gorilla comes from the trees and steals you away, I think you're the one.
NC (Voiceover): And granted some of the dialogue is a little hopy too. In fact they even make fun of them in the remake. The lines they shoot from the movie are actually identical to the ones they say in the original. Except in the original, that was supposed to be the real dialogue.
Ann Darrow (1933): I think this is awfully exciting. I've never been on a ship before.
Driscoll (1933): I’ve never been on one with a woman before.
Clip from new version is shown.
Ann Darrow (2005): I think this is awfully exciting! I’ve never been on a ship before.
Bruce Baxter (2005): I’ve never been on one with a woman before.
NC (Voiceover): But for all the stereotypical machoness, he actually is pretty likable. Sort of a tough guy with a soft heart sort of thing.
Ann Darrow (1933): Well, I was a little scared.
Driscoll (1933): Huh! I guess you weren't the only one.
NC (Voiceover): In the new one, we get Adrien Brody, who is STRAIGHT UP BORING.
Jack Driscoll (2005): It was pure effluence.
Bruce Baxter (2005): I beefed up the banter...
Jack Driscoll (2005): Try to resist that impulse.
NC (Voiceover): I'm sorry but he's just not interesting. I know they're trying to downplay the hero aspect and make him look like a normal boring guy, but you can still make him an interesting boring guy... if that makes any sense.
Jack Driscoll (2005): Why would I write a play for you? Isn’t it obvious? Well, it’s in the sub-text.
NC: My god, you're dull.
NC (Voiceover): What about the crazy director who takes them on his voyage? Again I prefer the original one played by Robert Armstrong. Mostly because if you looked at him, you wouldn't guess that he is an eccentric thrill seeker. He's very professional, and sort of keeps to himself which produces a character a lot more mystery.
Weston (1933): But you've got a reputation for recklessness that can't be glossed over. And then you're so secretive.
Carl Denham (1933): Good lord, you talk as if I never brought anybody back alive!
NC (Voiceover): When you see him, you think sort of a mad genius. A guy who can convince you to jump off the cliff if it would make the shot look good.
Ann Darrow (1933): What do I have to do?
Carl Denham (1933): Just trust me. And keep your chin up.
NC (Voiceover): He's very smooth, even if he is batshit insane. Jack Black, on the other hand is a little too obvious. He always has his eyes bugging out and always seems to talk in an intense manner.
Preston (2005): No Carl, you can’t do this!
Carl Denham (2005): Tell ‘em the studio’s pressured us into an early departure.
Preston (2005): It’s not ethical!
Carl Denham (2005): What are they gonna do - sue me? Huh?
NC (Voiceover): Now granted a lot of directors do act like that.
A clip from Lost in Translation is shown.
Director (in Japanese): Cut! Cut! What difference does it make! Makes no difference! Don't have time for that! Got it, Bob-san? Just psych yourself up, and quick! Look straight at the camera. At the camera. And slowly. With passion. Straight at the camera. And in your eyes there's... passion. Got it?
Translator: More intensively.
Director (in Japanese): *Suntory* time.
NC (Voiceover): Before avoiding this crazy, you have to have the ability to convince people and make them trust you. But I don't get there from Black. I don't think anyone would go with him on a crazy voyage. I don't know. Maybe I just can't trust anyone who is in Biodome. That would take anybody's reliability from me. The rest of the crew in the new version though are pretty memorable. I liked Andy Serkis' cut though cook.
Lumpy (2005): The castaway - he spoke of a creature, neither beast nor man.
A clip of Popeye cartoon is shown.
Popeye: Yeah. Like uh, I can hardly wakes!
NC (Voiceover): I thought that Hayes guy was pretty mysterious too. The rest of the crew in the original is pretty forgettable. You know, outside the obvious racial stereotypes.
Chinese Sailor: My not see Missy one, two hour. Look sir! My found on deck.
Englehorn: A native bracelet!
Chinese Sailor: Crazy black man's been here!
NC laughs awkwardly.
NC (Voiceover): Speaking of which, that tribe is pretty silly looking nowadays, isn't it? I'm sure it was impressive back then but now it just looks silly. You come across more realistic natives in Halloween. The ones in the newer version are just fucking crazy. And a lot more intimidating.
Carl Denham (2005): Look chocolate ... you like chocolate?
Right after the scene we see furious native mob yelling, fighting and attacking the Carl and his group.
NC writes something on his palm.
NC: "Note to self: Chocolate means war."
NC (Voiceover): Sort of a toss up but I am going to with the original. Mostly because the romantic lead in the film directing. They're just bigger roles so they suck up a lot more credit. And in this comparison, that adds up to a lot.
NC: Point goes to the old.
Carl Denham (2005): What are you - an idiot?
Round 2 Winner - King Kong 1933 Version
NC: And now we come to the effects!
Offscreen choir: New version!
NC: Oh, shut up! You know it's gonna be the new version, I mean remember. The effects back then with the original were groundbreaking -
Offscreen choir: New version!
NC: Ok. Just take a look!
Round 3 - Best Visual effect
NC (Voiceover): Now I know what you're thinking. How can the effects in the original beat anything compared to the new? Well, to be honest, these were still very impressive effects for that time. And not only that, they had to get really creative to make them happen. Obviously King Kong is stop motion but for the people, sometimes they have to take still pictures and animate them along with Kong. Other times they would use a green screen. Other times they use forced perspective. Other times they would literally just build a giant Kong. That's a lot of creativity and a lot of hard work. The newer one is mostly computer. I mean everything is computers nowadays. And don't get me wrong, that doesn't mean there's not a hard work put into it, but it just gets a little bit tiring seeing CG effects over and over and over. And to be honest, they're not that spectacular. When I think of good CG effects, I think of something that looks either realistic like Gollum of The Headless Horseman of something stylized like Sin City of Across the Universe. Here, I can always tell that's computers. Sometimes there's models but it's mostly computers. But, let's be honest. Yeah. It does look a lot more realistic. Granted I never really thought the creatures were there in the new one, but then again, I really never thought they were there in the original. I guess that's not really the idea of either film, though. We're not there to admire the effects, the effects are there to help the story. We don't have to believe the characters are really there, we just have to feel what they're going through. And those films do a very good job of that. But it is sort of obvious who the winner is. The newer version. Though I still really admire the original for its creativity. And in my opinion, they're still pretty damn impressive.
NC: Point goes to the new.
Carl Denham (1933): Well, there's a good reason.
Round 3 Winner - King Kong 2005 Version
NC: And now we come down to the Eight Wonder of the World himself. Which one had the better Kong? Which one did you feel more sorry for and which one had more heart and soul?
A long pause
NC: I don't know. But I don't think either of them can't compared to Amy. Nobody was more compassionate and heartfelt than her.
Amy: Tickle me.
Round 4 - Best Kong
NC (Voiceover): Now for me, this is the hardest part because I really like both Kongs. And again, you think it's only effects then but it's really not. It's just that they are really both well portrayed. They both had the big heart and both fall in love with our main lead but there are definitely some major differences. In the original, Kong is much more animalistic. The way he moves and the way he acts is much more like an actual ape. Ok. The movements aren't as quite as realistic but the actions are. Look at the scene where he is trying to get this guy. You can the the wheel in his head are turning as he's trying to figure out how to manage.
NC (Voiceover): This Kong also has a very blank expression. You can't always tell when he is happy or sad. Again, much like a real animal. In fact the way a lot of of these creatures move seems very animalistic. Again, it's not totally realistic but you sense the survival technique these creatures have. They react like predators who would stop at nothing until they stop their prey. Because of this, they're a lot more threatening and a lot more unpredictable. The new on is a little bit different. Actually model Kong is after all a real actor: Andy Serkis. So you can fairly easily tell that what emotions he's feeling at that time. For no dialogue, they get a cross a lot of with this character. And you really get the idea about what he's going though and when he's on screen. In a sense, they're sort of developed a little bit more, making him little bit more humanistic. The only downside is that it's not fairly animal like. Not that animals don't feel anything. I know they do, but the creatures are instinct purpose. Plus, when you look at an animal, it's very hard to figure out what they're feeling of thinking. That's why so many of them are unpredictable. Because of this, it's the blank expressions of the original Kong that I surprisingly have more emotion for. He just seems much more like a creature that was stolen from his natural environment. I guess it's because we don't know what his thinking and he's probably not super-smart but we feel even more sorry for. Look at that naive, dumbass smile. I feel so sorry for that chimp even before the bad things happen to him. And again, the new one is VERY good. But it seems like little bit more like a performance than an actual animal. It moves more like an animal, but doesn't act as much as an animal. And even though I feel sorry for him, I feel more sorry for the original. He just seems more helpless to me in some way. At the end, you'll always gonna feel more sorry for the poor helpless creature.
NC: Point goes to the old.
Bruce Baxter (2005): What are you, a Bolshevik or something?
Round 4 Winner - King Kong 1933 Version
NC: Once again the big deciding point is story. Which one told the tale of... ape meets girl better? This is Best Story!
Round 5 - Best Story
NC (Voiceover): Both of these films have very similar stories but the newer one seems to go until a lot more detail. In the original, everything is sort of frail, which I guess it's the idea; surrounding everything about the adventure and mystery. In the new one, though, we get a lot more background. We see the deciding point from where the director goes to the island. We see Darrow's job before she tags along with him. And we spend quite a bit of a time on the boat before we even get the the giant ape. TOO LONG! I became so fucking sick of this boat and this damn people on it. I know what they're trying to do. They're trying to hold themselves to that rule Jaws where you wait an hour to show the monster but this is way too fucking long! And half the people on that ship aren't that interesting anyway so you're just kind of stuck there! I mean who's gonna entertain me? Adrien Brody?
NC: Look. I loved you in the Pianist but you are BORING!
NC (Voiceover): The original was much quicker into the point. There was certainly build up but not to the point where you got annoyed and tedious. However in the new one we do get a better connection between Darrow and Kong. There's actually a few silent moments where you really see them make sort of an actually strange connection together. In the original it's a bit more primal. It's a little bit more harsh and core. The newer one seems to have a lot more heart than the original but even that seems to go a little too far. Like when she visits him in the city. Ok. I know she's trying to tame him and keep him uner control but then they go ICE SKATING! That's just weird! How can I take that seriously? It's Kong on ICE! I expect Mickey Mouse to pop out at any moment!
Picture of Mickey Mouse in ice-skating outfit is pasted to the scene where Darrow and Kong play on ice.
NC (Voiceover): Plus, there are just some all around strange scenes in the new one. Like how about when the director tells writer exactly where they're going. This is one of the oddest scenes ever. It's totally over-the-top for no reason.
Carl Denham (2005): It has a local name, but I’m warning you, Jack, it doesn’t sound good.
Jimmy eavesdrops on the conversation.
Jack Driscoll (2005) (Typing): S ... k ... u ...
Close On: Denham looks up in time to see Jimmy listening. Scary and dramatic music is played. NC's face is also closed on as he is becoming curious and afraid at the same time.
Jack Driscoll (2005) (Typing): l ... l ... Island.
NC is shocked.
NC: Skull? Skull? You mean like the thing in my head? My god.
Another scary and dramatic music is played.
A man: Oh, no!
A man: Santa Maria!
Luke Skywalker: NOOOO!
NC: NO! This can't be a secret any longer! All people must know!
NC bursts through the door of his house and starts to scream and wave his arms as he runs across the street where he lives.
NC: SKULL! SKULL! SKUUUUUUUL!
A scene from <"Twilight Zone" To serve Man> (1962) is played. People panic and become frantic as Patty tries to grab anyone to tell them about the situation.
NC is now running across his street from another direction, still waving his arms.
NC (Hige-pitched): SKUUUUUUUUUUUUL!
Patty: It's a cookbook! It's a cookbook!
NC (Voiceover): So yeah. There's quite a few over the top scenes like that. But to be fair, there's a lot of over the top scenes in the original too. But here's the difference. The original was made in the 30's. At that time this was not considered that corny. This was made just a few years ago. And the corny scenes were corny even then. Like how about that guy who falls in slo-mo where everyone else moves regularly.
The scene where Ann Darrow and her group is struggling is shown where a native man falls in slow motion.
NC (Voiceover): Why was his fall such a big deal? Was he the director's brother of something? How about some quirky over the top performances?
Ann Darrow (2005): Mr Driscoll, if you don’t mind me saying - you don’t look at all like your photograph ... You see, I was afraid you might be one of those self obsessed literary types. You know - the tweedy twerp with his nose in a book and his head up his -
Jack Driscoll snaps his book closed. Ann turns around and her face drops.
NC (Voiceover): Or how about that cutting frames trick that's never been fucking cool? Little stuff like that really adds up in the long run. And even though there's a lot of really good things about the newer version, the original just tells the story better. There's no trick, there's no Avant-garde of artsy way of showing things. It's just the straightforward story. So when everything is added up, it really does seem like the original King Kong is the superior film.
NC: Point goes to the old! The better movie!
Luke Skywalker: NOOOO!
Round 4 Winner - King Kong 1933 Version
NC: So that's my Old vs New on King Kong. Stay tuned next week when I review <Drop Dead Fred>.(Sneers) It's a movie so bad that will make you flip out of your skull. Oops! I said "skull".
The scene from <"Twilight Zone" To serve Man> (1962) is played again. People panic.
NC: I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it, so you don't have to!
Patty (Voiceover): It's a cookbook! It's a cookbook!
Note: CHANNEL AWESOME TAG
Chinese Sailor: Crazy black man's been here!