In which I dwell on the flaws in King Kong

In Peter Jackson’s Return of the King, there was a spectacular scene in which the elf Legolas single-handedly takes out a giant war elephant, first dispatching the entire crew riding its back, then firing a couple of arrows into its skull. Finally, with cool aplomb, he slides down the dying beast’s trunk, looking like a skateboarder doing a simple skid. He isn’t just a superlative shot with a bow, he has a semi-automatic bow and arrow and can take out entire platoons and mega-monsters without breaking a sweat.

I hate that scene.

It represents the worst of fanboy juvenilia—the hero inflated to god-like status, his actions no longer tethered by mere physics but become an exercise in supernatural wish fulfillment. It’s how comic book series die; not by closure of a good story, but by the steady pumping up of the central character until it becomes so central to the meaning of the entire universe that the only conflict is between the demiurge’s desires and the believability of the story’s reality. It’s damned boring stuff.

Peter Jackson showed some painful signs of susceptibility to that fanboy disease in the Lord of the Rings, and now having seen King Kong, I can say that he almost ruins the whole movie with ridiculous excess. Almost. There’s a great movie in the beginning and end of the story, and a ridiculous Dungeons & Dragons monster hunt with an indulgent Dungeon Master in the middle. The ending was so good I walked out of the theater feeling terrific about the whole show, but after thinking about it, there was an awful lot of crap going down through most of the movie.

A good science fiction story usually postulates one important novelty, and explores how that difference from the real world ramifies and causes complex consequences. There’s a wonderful, simple story in King Kong: that amazing giant ape, the interactions between him and a girl, and the disastrous collision with civilization. It’s Tarzan rewritten as a tragedy. That part is beautifully done in the movie, and Kong is a sympathetic and heroic figure, while Anne Darrow is empathy personified. That story works well.

Unfortunately, in the middle, Jackson translates a childhood fondness for the original King Kong into a kiddie cartoon. The whole Skull Island scenario is a botch.

He had to bring in the whole old bone-in-the-nose naked racism of the original; he did a great job of reveling in the wholly cruel and brutal savagery of a strangely prolific people somehow living on the rocky barren edge of an island full of monsters, in a stony city whose most common architectural features are the bones and corpses of its inhabitants. It made no sense, and was a distraction from the Kong story.

These entirely unsympathetic people are terrifying and murderous, and have the useful property of vanishing completely when the good guys fire a few guns. They are a caricature and a plot device, easily plucked off the game board whenever their presence might hamper the introduction of a new monster. They are also too easily dismissed. There is an entire city of these people, the small team of good guys have walked right into their midst, and have been completely surprised…they should have been dead. But no, the deus ex machine gun, which appears several times on Skull Island, makes the awkwardness of a massacre vanish.

“They should be dead” is a thought that ran through my mind several times. When they encounter the dinosaurs (which I thought were great, if unrealistic—they had the look of old-time Charles Knight illustrations, and their movements were beautifully slithery), they first get involved in an absurd stampede in a narrow defile. Everyone should have been dead, but instead credibility is strained overmuch with people darting in and out between legs and dancing along the edges of crumbling cliffs and bouncing off of and between and out from under tons of rubbery flesh.

There is a scene with giant bugs and some very cool sluglike beasties that were a cross between a giant leech and a chaetognath (heads full of spines, everting probosces, etc.—I want to go on record for having said “These guys have a lot of potential to be great horror movie stars” way back when. Peter, have your lawyer call my lawyer, we’ll talk). Once again, with a whole island full of giant hungry invertebrates, everyone should have been dead. But no, some survive, conveniently. (By the way, normal-sized fanged and envenomed invertebrates would have been just as lethal and scary, and far less prone to being trivially blown away with a gun.)

Once we were at the scene with the T. rex trapeze artists, my suspension of disbelief was gone completely. Laws of physics don’t matter anymore, all that mattered was how many giant flesh eaters could be squeezed onto the screen at once, and how many incredible positions and actions the CGI could render. Everyone should have been dead—people, flying and bouncing dinosaurs, gnawed-upon giant ape. Anne Darrow’s neck should have been snapped over and over again as she was tossed about like a rag doll.

The entire Skull Island sequence was like an overdone Warner Bros. cartoon, with cartoon physics, irrelevant consequences, and random rescues. It got in the way of the story. I think Jackson got so carried away with the horror monster special effects that he probably threw away most of the human parts of the tale, too…for instance, whatever happened with that subthread of James, the kid with the troubled past who was reading Heart of Darkness? Dropped and chopped to make room for more pointless creature wrestling, no doubt.

You know, Jackson could have simplified this part of the story. Forget the ghastly primitive natives; have the island contain only abandoned ruins. Drop the stupid battles between the people and dinosaurs and giant slugs; keep a few of the fights between Kong and T. rex (but having him fight 3 at a time was a bit much), since that’s part of the character’s development as an embattled loner. The capture of Kong was well done, I thought, as were the scenes with Anne and Kong, but everything with the crew and Wandering Monsters was a waste of screen time. Except, maybe, for hardcore geek fanboys.

Still, though, the last act of the movie was magnificent. It switched focus to Kong and the girl, where all the talent was any way, and although we all knew exactly what was going to happen, it was still wrenchingly done. Kong’s final torture was heartbreaking (Passion of the Ape, anyone?). The big gorilla’s character as a tragic figure was vivid, and saved the whole movie from being little more than a gussied up Friday night Sci-Fi Channel creature feature. It’s just too bad Jackson didn’t think on a slightly smaller scale for the rest.

(crossposted to The American Street)


  1. MikeN says

    Great review!- meaning it is exactly what was going through my mind while I watched.
    However,I think that in homage to the original he pretty well had to include the maiden sacrifice – though I cringed in disbelief all the way through the native scenes. How anyone could be so blindly unaware of the impressions surrounding the “evil black savages” is beyond me. At least show them some sympathy- after all, they are trapped on an island populated by horrendous monsters- maybe Jared Diamond could have stepped in somewhere and done a bit of Basil Exposition?

  2. PenetratingShaftOfTruthAndSemen says

    Well, for me, it was the greatest movie since Revenge of the Sith. Simply loved it. Movies are about complete suspension of belief. I had no problem with any of it.

  3. says

    Hmmm. I haven’s see it yet. But I think that after reading this I want to see it even more.

    The 1976 version was my favourite because there were no extra monsters. Just Kong. And a plot.

  4. MarkCC says

    Not to be too much of a nitpicker, but I just had to comment on the very first
    line of your post :-)

    Have you ever actually watched a seriously skilled bowman?

    I’ve had friends from the SCA who are very into target-shooting with medieval-style wooden shortbows. A good bowman can fire off about three shots in a second at a
    relatively close target. It’s an incredible thing to watch. It looks impossible even as you
    see it. They can’t keep it up for long – I think 5 in a row is the most I’ve seen anyone
    shoot. But five arrows in less than two seconds – that’s a truly amazing thing. Given
    that in Tolkein, an Elf *is* supposed to be faster than a human being, the bow-work done by Legolas is not so unreasonable.

    Of course, the skateboarding down the dying elephants trunk is just stupid – as was that awful bit in “The Two Towers” where they had him skateboarding on a shield. (Of course, I hated nearly everything about TTT; I think he pretty much blew the entire _point_ of the middle part of the story.) I don’t know what’s with Peter Jackson and faux skateboarding :-)

    Jackson’s not a bad director, but he’s no genius either. He definitely tends to over-focus on the flashy action scenes at the expense of story; and he often lacks the subtlety to do justice to his subject material.


  5. C. Schuyler says

    I’d say this is all basically right. The LORD OF THE RINGS movies had an annoying penchant for what I call Hollywooditis (implausible, over the top action scenes) that made me cringe more than once. Another example is the preposterous cliff-hanger scene (literally) at Mount Doom, where Frodo of course must almost fall into the bubbling magma and be pulled back as if he doesn’t weigh a thing. Serious flaws, which nonetheless didn’t completely ruin the films.

    Maybe there is a glimmer of misgiving: the black first mate may have been added as a palliative.
    You don’t make explicit mention of what’s most bothersome about the episode with the natives. Jackson retains without even a glimmer of misgiving the racist premise of the original KONG: only a white woman can appeal to the great beast. I’m less bothered by the natives being unsympathetic and murderous: massacres of western explorers have been by no means uncommon in the history of western exploration and invasion.

  6. C. Schuyler says

    Argghh. My sentence about the black first mate should have been inserted at the end of the post!

  7. says

    OK, first: I am no Tolkien fan. And maybe that’s why I LOVED the Legolas-kills the-elephant scene. (I too hated the skateboarding-down-Helms-Deep scene, though.)

    Anyway, Kong. Sorry, but I loved Skull Island, esp. its proteostomic denizens. You’re right, there’s no way anybody should have survived that trench full of arachnids and pseudochaetognaths and carnivorous hoppers — that Our Heroes did survive, we can put down to anthropocentric bias. (BTW, is it only me, or did anybody else think it cool that Jackson eschewed the obvious spiders when casting his arachnids and instead went for something that looked like amblyopygids? Not very accurately portrayed, of course; but then Shelob in LOTR made it unfortunately clear that Jackson arachnids are not true-to-life.)

    But the single best and scariest Skull Island invertebrates were those that were exaggerated to the least degree: the two scolopendra that clattered over Anne Darrow in the hollow log. They were only a little bigger than the biggest Real World centipedes; and the biggest Real World centipedes are scary enough!

  8. says

    I’m perfectly willing to suspend disbelief — I let the impossible ecology and the abuses of allometry slide, after all. What offended me is that the monster hunt in the middle stomped all over the story.

    Same with the natives. I think Jackson was trying to make some point, that I couldn’t quite get. The natives were extremely savage, and there was some hint of a contrast with the blackfaced minstrel show at the end, but it was a muddle…and it also got in the way of the story.

  9. says

    Oh, as a fantasy zoo exhibit, the Skull Island stuff was fun. It just didn’t belong there in a love story about a tragic island king and a beautiful woman with a heart of gold.

  10. RainbowSerpent says

    I couldn’t agree more with this post — “Kong” was overlong, overblown, and way too far over the top.

    As a life-long “fan” of the Mesozoic Era, I gotta say that the dinosaurs looked absolutely terrible. For God’s sake, all you have to do is go on-line or open up a contemporary dinosaur book to find a perfectly adequate set of visual references, but oh no! Evidently, WETA decided to just wing it. All I can say is, if you’re not going to work on the plot, dialogue, acting, etc., then you could, at the very least, get the damned dinosaurs to look right. The Allosaurs (I’m assuming they were Allosaurs…) looked like they had Down Syndrome! Corky the Allosaur…? And what’s the story with those sauropods? That whole sequence was an abomination. As far as the “Tyrannosaurs” go, they get a pass simply because I kind of liked their anachronistic, snaggle-toothed, Harryhausen-esque rendering.

    I *did* like the ceratopsian, though. I’m a sucker for horned dinosaurs…

  11. says

    I agree that the dinosaurs weren’t at all accurate scientifically — but I don’t think they pulled that look out of their butt. They very much had the look of old school dinosaur illustrations, going with that 1930s theme that was expressed throughout the movie.

    I thought the sauropods owed more to Gertie the animated dinosaur than anything else.

  12. Karl the Doofus says

    Maybe there is a glimmer of misgiving: the black first mate may have been added as a palliative.

    Yeah. But that’s a problem too. From my comment over at Berube’s post about Kong (a post and thread that is far superior to what I present here)

    Lo and behold, a black first mate. So noble! So perfect he’s goddamn porcelain. That’s how you do it. Put a lotta black people in positions of authority.

    Except then they got to the island, and, ooooo, the natives aren’t African. They’re Polynesian. I guess. So if the First Mate’s meant to counterbalance the friggin scary natives (and they were friggin scary), it’s just reinscribing white people at the center who get to balance out brown people against each other, Charles Murray-style.

    Oookay, that’s a bit over the top.

    Not qualified to comment on the science stuff. But case in point for the discussion here: the transformation of the hypocritical action actor into an actual action guy was way too much to take. I know excess is a joke with Jackson, and I’ve come to expect it: but that was too much.

  13. ivy privy says

    Over the top? Sure. The primary goal of the movie, sheer spectable, was openly stated within (in comments about the movie within the movie).

    What I want to know is, in the Kong vs. Tyrannosaurs scene, and other canyon shots, how did all those conveniently placed vines manage to grow across canyons like that?

    BTW, there’s an exhibit of Charles R. Knight work at the Museum of the Earth through 2006-04-30.

  14. TTT says

    I hated this movie. I knew walking into the theater that it couldn’t be as great as the hype said, and also that frankly the time period is way too late for it to have been very good at all: the original conceit of Kong was that it is to have been surprising and emotionally moving to discover that a gorilla can have human-like feelings. Since gorillas were only discovered in the 1850s and the original movie came out 80 years later, that would indeed have been a big “whoah!” moment at the time. But we are now post- “Koko,” post- “Mist,” and everybody knows gorillas are nice. They might as well have used an 80-foot PANDA BEAR, it would have had about the same threat level with a modern audience. So the real emotional leap of faith that the original movie forced you to take, is gone. And with it, the whole point of the story.

    The Skull Island sequences were awful. Pointless and sadistic. “Jurassic Park” was based just as much around creepy monsters eating people, but always kept it tastefully obscured or implied. Here, tho’, PJ is so proud of his graphics studio that he thinks we really want to watch Andy Serkis drank alive by giant leeches for 15 seconds. Which I for one did NOT want.

  15. says

    I agree that it would have been a better movie if the action scenes had been less overblown. He did a great job of introducing these characters then blew away the drama value of their predicament on cheap comicbook stuff.

    I was very surprised that a blast from a submachine gun was able to down allosaurs. I will point out that they are anti-personnel weapons, not anti-dinosaur weapons. Sure the bullets might kill them, but probably only after they have finished tearing you to pieces.

    What is up with the ecology on that island? Is the place rich in phosphurous or something? I guess humans must contain some sort of trace element that is vital for dinosaur health, otherwise they wouldn’t go through so much effort to eat them. I mean, would you fight a big chimpanzee to the death over a chicken McNugget?

    And finally, to get really picky, how fuzzy must Kong’s vision be with pupils that big? Don’t see how he could recognise a human face.

  16. says

    Re: Tolkien, and the “Elf Surfing Elephant Nose” Scene:

    First, as a lifetime Tolkien fan and an avid roleplayer, let me just say: f’ing elves. Think they’re so damn cool. Pffft.

    Second, couldn’t enjoy the elephant scene, no matter how much fun it was. Want to know why? Because as Legolas slid down the elephant’s trunk, you know what I was humming? The theme song to the Flintstones cartoon. Because what did Fred do in the intro to the cartoon when the whistle blew and he got off work? Hopped off his stupid dinosaur and slid down the neck — in exactly the same way as Legolas surfed down the elephant trunk. Watch the cartoon sometime and tell me there isn’t a simularity. Ruined the whole scene. *grumps*

  17. uri says

    I agree with your review except for the part about the end of the movie being good.

    The lengthy preamble, in which it is ploddingly explained to us who all the characters are, was accomplished with one, short, scene in the original. There was no need to see Ann Darrow in her Vaudeville act. No need see why Denham was running from the studio executives and the police. Jackson was afraid that his audience wouldn’t know enough history to understand that the movie was set during the great depression, but more than that, he doesn’t trust audiences to be able work anything out for themselves. The Dungeon Master metaphor is apt. He may as well have appeared on screen, reading each character’s capabilities and motivations from the script notes directly into the camera.

    Like the degenerate natives, subplots are introduced, then vanish. Not only the kleptomaniac but courageous cabin boy, not only the wise old black sailor. Why do we see the redemption of the Action Hero movie star?

    The “message” of the movie is delivered like a ransom note wrapped around a brick. Can you remember one thing about the dinosaur-eaten character whom Denham eulogizes with his call to make the “mystery left in the world” available for the price of admission? Did he even appear in the film before he was needed as dinosaur fodder?

    And the T-rex fight was lifted from a Honk Kong kung-fu movie. Not just in its disregard for newtonian physics; some of Kong’s moves were virtual quotes from Jackie Chan movies — where the protagonist throws some valuable and fragile object up into the air to free his hands (or, in this case, prehensile feet) to deal with an attacker, catching it again just before it hits the ground. Of course, in a Jackie Chan fight, they’d use that gag just once or twice, and the object being tossed around is never in any danger of having her neck snapped, her ribs broken, her brain sheared from her spinal cord, or her arms and legs dislocated.

    And the idea that Ann would feel anything for Kong, other than abject terror is just insulting. Kong killed people that she knew. Kong killed all of those (dark skinned, therefore less plucky and resourceful) prior sacrifices — and showed her their bones. The badly pantomimed CGI juggling and completely unfunny face plants and prat falls on the cliff, and the bit where she is touched that Kong is comparing her beauty to a sunset (argh!), were bad enough, but when the man of her dreams shows up to rescue her and she HESITATES — I tried to walk out of the theater, but was restrained by my SO.

    The ending of the movie was a disaster. The Kong live show, where the message is delivered — directly into the camera twice more (I swear, it reminded me of the scene in Fahrenheit 451, where Susan Montag “appears” in a TV movie. I could almost hear Adrian Brody saying” “What would you do Susan?” Instead of delivering what must have been an unintentional summation of Jackson’s attempt to remake Kong as an homage to the original; “He destroys the things he loves…”)

    Kong on Ice was amazingly stupid. Fay Wray got it right. When you are carried to the top of the empire state building by a giant monkey-moster that you have personally seen kill many people, and are in peril of being dropped or hit by bullets fired from fighter planes, the reasonable thing to do is scream at the top of your lungs until the ordeal is over.

    Plus which, the effects really weren’t all that good. Seriously, the scenes where the sailors are running from dinosaurs were badly chromakeyed and less convincing than the rear-projection composites from the original. And the Ann Darrow figure in the CGI fight sequences DOES look like a rag doll, rather than a human being who’s limbs only bend so far, and only in one direction.

  18. says

    I agree that the middle third of the movie, the Skull Island sequence, was overblown. Nonetheless, I loved the part where Kong battled not one, but three, T. rex‘s. It’s something called “willing suspension of disbelief.”

    Must be the residual fanboy in me.

    However, I agree that the last segment, with Kong escaping in a beautifully recreated circa 1933 New York City was a fantastical and moving sequence, particularly the all-too-brief segment where Kong and Ann played on the frozen pond in Central Park, which was surprisingly moving.

    I still can’t figure out, however, how Ann avoided freezing to death spending most of the night in the winter cold in nothing but a rather flimsy dress or slip. I couldn’t help but think during the entire last half hour of the movie that her teeth should be chattering and she should be freezing to death, especially standing over 1,000 feet above the streets of Manhattan on top of the Empire State Building.

  19. says

    I can understand PZ’s wish that the plot of King Kong didn’t occasionally get back-burnered for the sake of action. I don’t share that wish — perhaps because I apparently enjoyed the action a great deal more than he did — but I can understand it. I don’t think there is anything wrong, in principle, with a film trying to provide both a good story and some good action sequences. Ideally, every action sequence would also serve the story, though, and I will concede that at least some of the action in this film wasn’t narratively neccesary.

    The swinging-in-vines fight was one of my favorite parts of the film. Yes, it *was* over the top and ridiculous. I thought it was a riot. It was funny, and still managed to be exhilerating (for me, at least) even though it was ridiculous.

    My biggest, and perhaps only, disappointment with this movie was the way all the surviving crew of the Venture completely vanished after Kong was captured. Like PZ says, what was with all that stuff about the troubled kid? It was just dropped, with never even an attempt to wrap it up. I suspect there is cut footage about some of the crew that will end up on the DVD, with Jackson saying he cut it out because the film was already so long, and that wrapping up the crew’s story would just slow down the Kong/Anne stuff. And he would be right. But… that begs the question of why all the setup wasn’t cut along with the resolution.

    Oh, and I was also a little annoyed with how violently Anne was constantly being jerked around without suffering severe or fatal neck injuries. I think that was a little overdone.

    Regarding the savages: Yes, that portrayal of native peoples is very out of whack with today’s social context. I never for an instant doubted that Jackson was aware of that, nor did I doubt that he was portraying them that way because that’s what they were like in the original, and because everything about Skull Island is supposed to be terrifying. Having those natives be perplexing and scary is exactly the point and serves the story.

    Regarding the dinosaurs: No, those weren’t Tyrannosaurs or Allosaurs. They were Vastatosaurus Rex. Never heard of them? Of course not. They’re modern-day descendants of the Mezozoic’s large theropods. All of the dinosaurs on the island have changed in the millions of years that have passed. And, also as PZ says, they are in the style of “old school” dinosaur art in order to keep the creature art design contemporary with the setting of the film.

  20. says

    These entirely unsympathetic people are terrifying and murderous, and have the useful property of vanishing completely when the good guys fire a few guns

    I have not seen the movie. That said .. what you describe has at least one historical antecedent. Hernan Cortez was able to conquer the Aztec nation with a handful of conquistadors. Not a perfect match, granted.

  21. Torbjorn Larsson says

    There are problems with the increasing use of fantastic plot devices of any kind, not least in action movies. The problems goes outside the cinema too, so it could be discussed in some length. Almost everything I was going to write has been covered by Steve-o except for some nitpicks:

    I didn’t like the description of Legolas either, but for different reasons. Tolkien imbued his intelligent species with different characteristics, and the elfs were connected with the earth and possesed inhuman agility, strength, speed and lightness (running on snow, for example). So Jackson didn’t inflate Legolas character, at least not his abilities.

    What he did IMO was to forget to do that for some other characters. Gimli was dwarfishly strong, resilient and good with stoneworls. Nothing of that was presented in the movie. That made the lost story thread about the uncommon friendship between the elf Legolas and the dwarf Gimli almost inevitable. Pity too, since it was a reminder of the new era that the War of the Ring brought, another lost thread.

    “how fuzzy must Kong’s vision be with pupils that big?”

    Eh? The vertebrate eye isn’t a hole camera, at least usually. The pupil (usually) regulates the amount of light into the eye. PZ darlings the squids have better vision than we do. Have you seen the size of the pupil on those giant squids? “They are giant, man!”

    The resolution of the vertebrate eye is partly set by focal length and the size of lightsensitive cells (rods and all that), partly on integration and scan times, partly on eye movement and image processing. The biologists on this site will hopefully know more. I did some quick web searches but no clear picture was resolved. :-)

  22. Torbjorn Larsson says

    Umm… I realise I made more than the usual amount of errors. Let’s see:

    “stoneworls” – stonework.

    “the new era that the War of the Ring brought, another lost thread” – almost lost thread, there was some exposition in the boat scene in the end IIRC. But it should have been in the main themes IMO.

    “partly on” – partly by.

  23. mothworm says

    Oh man, I’m so glad I’m not the only one who had serious problems with this movie. “Overblown” doesn’t even begin to describe it. It suffers tragically from the “more is never enough” school of filmmaking. One or two giant bugs–scary. Five hundred of them–just a buzzing mess. If you pack every corner of the screen with a monster (or dinosaurs, or zombie people), the viewer can’t focus on any one, and so there’s no impact. It’s just visual white noise.

    And besides the fact that Anne should be dead from all that tossing around, Kong should be dead, or at least seriously disabled after the Rex fight. How many times did one of them bite his arm? I counted at least three. And yet they never tear away huge chunks of skin and muscle, and his bones never get broken. Come on! I couldn’t stand it. (Good point about the “retro” look of the dinosaurs. I thought the one that the first Rex eats looked a lot like the old drawings of Iguanodon, before they figured out what it really looked like.)

    What really bugged me about the story is that all of the tragedy is transferred from the “clash of worlds” of the original, to the failed romance between Kong and Anne. But Jackson completely undercuts any resonance that had by having Anne fall into a manufactured love interest’s arms right after Kong’s death.

  24. C. Schuyler says

    In case there was any misunderstanding (probably there wasn’t), I didn’t intend to say that adding a black first mate SUCCEEDED as a counter-balance to the old racist theme (or made any sense as a counter-balance).

    With regard to one commenter’s remarks on Tolkien’s elve: I remember very well that elves were light on their feet and had superior senses, but I can’t for the life of me recall any indication that they enjoyed superhuman strength. The “enhancing” of Legolas in Jackson’s epic remains, for me, one of the most irritating things about the film. (Tolkien’s elves are annoying enough already, with their assured air of superiority to mortals. Tolkien had the difficult task of portraying beings who are human-like but better than human; and it all fell flat; they just come off as insufferably smug.)

  25. Anonymous says

    These entirely unsympathetic people are terrifying and murderous, and have the useful property of vanishing completely when the good guys fire a few guns

    It wasn’t so much that they ran away from the guns, but that Jackson seems to completely forget they existed by the time of Kong’s capture (and for that matter, how the hell did they get the unconscious Kong out to the boat?). Every other time they enter the city, it’s deserted.

    Perhaps they went off to wherever the plots following the cabin boy and the rest of the crew disappeared to.

  26. Hank Fox says

    Argh. You people.

    I’m wondering what this crowd would say when presented with a new roller coaster.

    (whiny, nasal voice) “Well, *I* thought the fourth inverted loop was WAY overdone, and the sink-drop near the end was just too way too fanboyish for me! And the ill-dressed fat man who sold me the tickets — well!”

    As William Shatner said (something like) “Move out of your parents’ basement and get a life!”

    This movie was a deliberate thrill ride, with lots and lots of overblown, overdone scenes and effects, aimed at a roller-coaster-fannish audience. If you expected anything else, you wasted your time going to this movie. And you’re continuing to waste time blathering about it.

    For instance, note that the natives on the island were deliberately pushed WAY over the top with added horrific elements — malformations, diseases — to show that they were not the black people in your life, but Avatars of Terror … and deliberately outside any common experience or comparison.

    Yeah, yeah, let’s all be picky: On some sub-level even I was studying the physics of Kong, and noting that he could not have moved the way he did, nor could he have climbed up the outside of a building, subjecting decorative exterior trim to his ten-ton (?) weight. BUT … I was there for the Spectacle, and not for the physics. Hell, I watch Smallville, and love it. It’s not physics; it’s TV. Ditto for King Kong: it was a MOVIE.

    The only flaws I found in the movie AS A MOVIE were: 1) the T-rex fight scene went on too long to maintain its intended effect, and 2) the love story between Kong and the woman should NOT have ended with her throwing herself into the arms of the much-less-interesting crooked-nosed Other Man the instant Kong was dead. It cheapened the depth of feeling the story had built up between Kong and Fay.

    As for LOTR, I was personally more bothered by the torment and deaths of the Oliphants than the ways in which they happened.

    And PZ, my gosh, OF COURSE the heroes lived through all those rolling catastrophes.

    That’s what Heroes do.

  27. says

    PZ, a note on posting here:

    I composed that last piece in Microsoft Word, and pasted it into the Comment window. I had to go back and change ALL the apostrophes from question marks, which they had mysteriously transformed into during the paste.

    I previewed the comment a time or two to make sure everything was okay, and then posted it, only to find that in the final post my m-dashes had turned into a three-character hash (like here: “… elements — malformations, diseases — to show …”) which did NOT show up during the preview phase.

    (And now when I preview THIS post, they’re showing up as m-dashes, so I’m not sure whether the three characters will show up in the final post or whether they’ll be regular m-dashes.)

  28. says

    I think I liked the middle a bit more than you did, but do agree that it was seriously overdone. Kong would’ve been a better movie if Jackson had cut about half an hour — and basically all from the middle. Two big problems that you didn’t identify in your review:

    1)the Skull Island portion is so long that it actually makes the third act in New York seem rushed in comparison, which is a shame given the huge strengths of that portion.

    2)All that dinosaur stuff — I don’t mind the unbelievability factor so much as that Jackson strains the technology a bit too far — the stampede scene, say, shows breakdowns in the effects so that it is bloody obvious that these are actors running in front of a green screen. Jackson likes to push the envelope on CGI. Sometimes he pushes waaay too far.

  29. alexc says

    Hmm. Maybe if when the cabin boy was talking about Heart of Darkness’ someone had said something like “Oh you like that? You should try reading some stuff about Jungian archetypes. I have some in my locker” things might have been clearer. Or maybe not.

    I’m probably biased for the totally irrational reason that I live about 200M from Jacksons studio, but I thought the movie was quite good. A little overdone in parts certainly. But what colour should have the savages been? If he had of removed them completely the criticisms would have been of ‘outrageous disrespect for the original’ and ‘political correctness gone mad’.

    “BTW, is it only me, or did anybody else think it cool that Jackson eschewed the obvious spiders when casting his arachnids and instead went for something that looked like amblyopygids”

    It’s cooler than you may realise, (but if you dont like puns probably less cool)…

    Meet the “god of ugly things”…

    from which weta digital takes it’s name.

    Anyway, love the blog, read it daily.

  30. NelC says

    I can’t buy into the “It’s all just spectacle” argument. To entertain me, a movie has to engage my intellect, not just push the gee-whiz buttons in my brain. At least there should be a nod towards the difficult realities. If visual spectacle is all there is to a movie, then I may as well look at strobe lights through a kaleidoscope.

    And I think it’s entirely legitimate to criticise a entertainment for failing to entertain. Even if no-one else is listening, it’s part of the process we all use to figure out what it is we like.

    And, besides, nobody tells me to switch off the critical areas of my mind just on their say-so. No presidents, no bishops, no bosses, no film directors. Once you get into that habit, it can only end in tears.

  31. catherine says

    “They should be dead.” Just as everyone, and I do mean everyone of the human persuasion, in the Jurassic Park films should be dead. Dead and eaten. Dead and turned into bones. Guns? Hah! Shelters? Hah! Planes? Hah.

    Dead, all of them.

    Great review. Thanks.

  32. says

    Ditto for King Kong: it was a MOVIE.

    See, that’s the whole problem I had with King Kong. It wasn’t a movie–it was a two-hour chase/fight scene with a dull introduction tacked on, and brief interludes and bad dialogue stuffed in. Pretty much everything that has been said here I complained bitterly about in my own private rant on the movie, but honestly, I noticed most all of that only in hind-sight. What killed the movie for me was that the fight/chase scenes were absolutely interminable. They escape from one threat only to have another pop up, and then another, and then another, and then another…. Whenever this happened, I would just silently sigh “Again?!”

    And all of this was done to the deteriment of everything else that could have been used to make this movie truly great: plot, characterization, the tying of loose ends, etc.

    This movie was a deliberate thrill ride, with lots and lots of overblown, overdone scenes and effects, aimed at a roller-coaster-fannish audience. If you expected anything else, you wasted your time going to this movie.

    Right–because when one thinks King Kong, they think epic action-flick. Please.

  33. says

    When people starting dying on Skull Island, I turned to my buddy that I was watching the film with, and we both looked at each other and said, “The black dude so gonna die next.” Next thing we knew, he was knocked off. So predictable.

  34. noahpoah says

    No one else noticed that the natives were straight out of Dead Alive (in which they were more or less straight out of the original King Kong, of course)?

    Dead Alive is the real Peter Jackson’s King Kong, by gum.

  35. Torbjorn Larsson says


    “I remember very well that elves were light on their feet and had superior senses, but I can’t for the life of me recall any indication that they enjoyed superhuman strength.”

    That is the impression I got, admittedly perhaps because of Silmarillion, where elves are descendants from angellike characters. It doesn’t figure in Jackson’s movie, though, and I don’t feel that Legolas was enhanced above the abilities Tolkien gave elves.

    “they just come off as insufferably smug”

    Quite right!

  36. says

    FYI: In LOTR the large beasts are referred to as Oliphaunts, not elephants. Apparently, they don’t exist in our world. Go figure.

    Perhaps Jackson was chasing his childhood (the original King Kong having made an enormous impression upon him when he was a lad) and the fantasy elements of Skull Island were more or less what an eight year-old would be wowed by. His version struck me as a “Movie, Movie” a kind of Saturday matinee adventure film, Raiders of the Lost Ark meets Love Story. The Hollywood audience I was with laughed with gusto when Jack Black says “Trust me: I’m a producer.” And many cried when a CGI simian, hopelessly in love and emotionally bound to a struggling film starlet, loses his grip and falls to a death that never actually happened. Perhaps the PZ joke about The Passion of the Ape carries more profundity, and more truth, than we can objectively measure. Maybe that’s why big, crazy films, awkward and imperfect and beyond belief, still put bodies in the seats. Show Biz attracts a lot of moths to its flames, but not all of them get burned.

    p.s. Jackson’s best film, in my humble estimation, was and is Heavenly Creatures.


  37. Jaime Headden says

    PZ, An interesting review, but there are a few aspects you have left out in the premise of describing these films in your incredulity.

    1) Legolas did not shoot the arrows into the mumak’s (plural, mumakil) skull, but rather fired several into the base of the skull, where the spinalcord exits the foramen magnum, essentially paralyzing the animal if not outright killing it. Any other issue of incredulity is from the original books, in which these giant war oliphants were regularly used in combat, and should we have come against such “normal” war elephants in north Africa or India, the attempt to kill them would have been the same, and to Jackson’s credit, the tripping and entagling of the mumakil and the elf slaying one by arrow to the brainstem would have largely the same effect. But then again … it IS fantasy, not just Hollywood. And the last part of that, of course … Jackson is not a Hollywood director, as his films might show, but styles them according to his own vision, just as many before him have kicked the establishment and norms for their own vision. I can name Kubrick…

    2) Kong is based in the 30’s … what vision of the Pacific Islanders would you have expected on an island supposedly crawling with giant versions of everything, including priapulids and dinosaurs? What attitudes from 1930’s New Yorkers would you have expected in this?

    3) Peter Jackson’s film was intended, in the utmost, to be a revitalization, not a revision, of the original Cooper film, and was made, in Jackson’s own words, as an “homage”. What would anyone have expected of the film in this light when it’s not a rewrite of the story, but a retelling of it with modern technology? In many cases, the vision of the dinosaurs was based on the sense of the 30’s, but more attention was paid to a gigantic, if slightly physics defying, ape, because that’s more on the lines of the movie’s title than the reptiles were. And if we want to complain about those ape-physics, note that the movie is about a 25-foot-tall ape, not some revisionist perspective on giant primates with the proper racial attitudes we should have today.

  38. roberto says

    um…so why would a giant primate exist in the same space as dinosaurs????????? primates are social animals, where was the rest of the troop?

    why would grazing dinosaurs evolve in such a densely forested region?

    why were oversized invertabrates only on the floor of the canyon?

    no water dwelling dinosaurs in the sea around the island?

    it all looked pretty cool visually though

  39. gmanedit says

    Like *Brokeback Mountain,* *King Kong* is a tragic love story. It should have ended with bullets riddling her body, crimson blossoming across her thin dress, and her falling down to the street—to show the violence inherent in the system.

    P.S. The writer did not deserve her. In the Kong capture scene, she wanted to do something (go to Kong? something) and after she expressed her wish he countermanded and restrained her. She deserves better.

  40. Ick of the East says

    Take a breath dammit!

    And when you let it out on top of the Empire State Building in below freezing weather, I want to see some vapor!

    The CG wizards were able to make chloroform fumes but not breath vapor?

    Or did they just spend too much time on the second hour of that dinosaur chase scene?

    And another thing. We all saw the bones of the ancestral Kongs. So what happened to the Kongish breeding population? Was that why he was so turned on by a skinny white chick? The last bit of Kong skirt had died out and his balls were more blue than the Stone of Galveston?

  41. says

    I loved the movie.

    Sure, it wasn’t believable, but I liked it for the same reason I like James Bond and Mission Impossible movies. The point of the action fantasy genre is to tell you an exciting story, not convince you that the story could actually happen. And some movies are designed to engage your emotions (not only drama, but also awe and adrenaline) rather than your intellect. In movies (unlike politics and religion) that’s okay. I can find intellectual stimulation in the world without demanding it from every movie I see.

    Also, you’re taking the Lord of the Rings physics too seriously. The antagonist is a giant eye made of fire with evil magical powers, so I don’t see why anyone should be bothered by an uncannily nimble elf.

  42. says

    The Countess and I have been fanbois of Peter Jackson and Wingnut Films (his production company) since Dead Alive. As a matter of fact, and a bit tongue-in-cheek, Dead Alive was the test The Countess administered to see if I was “worthy” of her attentions. From our perspective, any movie that has two amputations and a decapitation in the first minute is “OK!!!” by us.

    But to get back on point, if you have seen any of his movies you’ll see that his work (even Heavenly Creatures, for that genre) always goes over the top and always stretches the suspension of disbelief. A case in point is Dead Alive itself, where Lionel (the hero) kills of a house full of zombies (40 to 50?) with a lawn mower. He walks in, fires it up, holds it spinning blade forward, and charges. If you have not seen it, what you’re probably imagining isn’t the half of it. Jokingly, I always figured that Dead Alive was his dissertation on prosthetics makeup.

    On the other hand, all his movies have touching and heartfelt moments, including Dead Alive.

    This is what he does and you’ll see it in any other movie he makes in the future. He’s a director with a particular signature, and if you don’t agree with it, you won’t, and if you do, you will… that simple.

  43. Dick Durata says

    I haven’t seen Kong, but as for the LOTR films, what I find obnoxious is the obvious tie in to video games. The Gandalf vs. Saruman wizard/kung-fu scene was particularly bad.
    I suspect that many action movies have scenes dedicated to promoting video game sales.

  44. Jaime Headden says

    The video game/movie tie in is probably wholly in Dick Durata’s head. In Tolkein’s notes, the two did, in fact, fight, and their combat was part of the wizardly thingie that was required in the film’s adaptation of it. Of course, he could have left the whole piece out, since in the original novel, Tolkein only mentioned the encounter in passing as we hear Gandalf recount his attendance at Isengard. But… since we want to make points about the Hollywood effect, we will ignore that Jackson is not a Hollywood director and that the EA games made from the film were made after the films and without his stamp of approval. On the other hand, Jackson DID work on the Kong game, and even offered the makers a script to consider, which is why it’s the “OFFICIAL” game of the movie. Let this not escape those who wish to consider the issues of the films with non sequituurs.

  45. says

    Torbjorn Larrson, thanks for correcting me on the eyes. I thought that a big opening would mean less resolution, but I’m too tired at the moment to work out why I thought that. Thanks.

  46. trexmaster says

    I think this was one of 2005’s better movies, though it’s a bit long (“too much of a good thing”, really). I liked the Skull Island sequences, so perhaps I am better at suspending my belief than PZ or some of these other folks. Or maybe it’s my inferior layperson taste.

  47. says

    Well after reading the review I’ve got to see the movie. I never found the plot and the King Kong-theme attractive but many reviewers seem to like the film. I heard the ending resembles that of Titanic where Leo DiCaprio slowly sinks into the ocean:)

  48. says

    yeah, i thought there were two or three too many chase/escape scense, too. but i liked them; i could barely watch the bug scene – ugh, intense squick.

    but my biggest complaint was the dialogue. it was just soooo forced and heavyhanded. too much of it sounded like patronizing narration for the dim-witted viewer; it stopped me from seeing the characters as people, and left me thinking of them as anamatronic Virtues, Vices and Prophets. even the final line “Twas beauty killed the beast” (or whatever) coming from Jack Black, of all people, made me wince.

    because everybody in the LOTR books sounds like Prince Valiant – every sentence is a profound statement full of weight and portent, delivered as a little sermon or battle cry – i assumed Jackson was just staying true to the book and genre. i could forgive him for making everybody sound the same, beause in the book, they do.

    but mere minutes into KK, it became obvious to me that Jackson just can’t do dialog. it’s almost as bad as Lucas’ dialogue in the last 3 Star Wars movies…

    and the way every scene ends with a huge blast of music because what we just saw was just bursting with foreshadowing and meaning… tah-DUM! [sweeping panaramic or zooming close-up].. gack

  49. Walter says

    As I was watching the new King Kong, I kept thinking how much better the Skull Island sequence was in the original movie. It was fantastic, yes, but still felt grounded in our real, physical universe. The T.rex fight scene was much more exciting, partly because I could actually follow what was going on, unlike in Jackson’s take with the shakey cameras and nutty swinging dinosaurs. The best fantasies don’t bend the physical laws of reality too much, or if they do, they set their own rules that the characters must abide by. That was the clever part about the first Matrix movie: Even though its characters could perform superhuman feats, they were grounded by certain limitations in the virtual world in which they lived.

    Just the other day I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark again for the first time in a couple years, and realized how much better it is than most blockbusters coming out these days. Much of the reason was Indiana Jones is a guy I can believe. He seems a normal guy in an extraordinary situation — although, granted, a guy who can take on a truck full of nazis. And there was real stuntwork in it — whereas today most action sequences overuse computer-generated imagery.

  50. Randy says

    I loved the movie as well. I actually thought that the first part of the movie dragged a little, but I thought that the sequences on Skull Island were great. I’m not sure what you call the planning of a special effects scene (choreographing?), but the scene where Kong was fighting the three T-Rexs while simultaneously falling down a vine-filled canyon was the best choreographed special effects scene that I have ever seen. There was one close call followed by another and then followed closely by yet another.

    Would everything have been dead if it had happened for real? Or course.

    But it’s a movie.

  51. Federico Contreras says

    I can see why scientists are not in charge of making movies, we’d have to forget any kind of space travel (since faster than light travel is impossible), no teleportation (I loved the fly), no Aliens (since we can’t really explain how their metabolism works), no superhero movies, because they violate the laws of physics all the time (Fantastic 4 – Xmen, forget about it) … etc.

    We’d all be watching school science documentaries at the movies (not that there’s anything wrong with that)

    It’s called suspension of disbelief guys. I thought the stampede scene was a bit over the top, but in a story about 25 foot tall apes living in an impossible ecosystem… I’m not going to complain.

    It IS possible to enjoy a movie without overanalyzing every little bit. Complaining about things like this give me the impression that you have successfully strangled the child inside you.

  52. Flex says

    Sounds like a good case can be made for several director’s cuts rather than a single one.

    I mean, use up all the footage by assembling it into three or four movies directed at diffrent audiences.

    One version can be the tale of the monster and his love. Another could focus on the action-packed battles on Skull Island. A third could explore the sub-plots lost in the final editing including the cabin boy, cameraman, natives and first mate (that didn’t come out right, it sounds like a porno film).

    Hey, why not?


  53. jrochest says

    Okay, cross another movie off the ‘must see that sometime’ list.

    But one thing: lots of people seem upset that PZ is nit-picking about the movie not following the laws of physics or biology. That’s not what he’s complaining about, if you go back and take a look. He’s complaining that the action sequences have taken over the narrative — that is, there’s no story, just a series of CGI based fight and chase scenes bracketed by “in the beginning” and “the end”.

    That most people’s rebuttals to this begin “You’re crazy, the fight scenes ROCKED” suggests he might be right.

  54. says

    After 40 years of sympathetic gorillas in popular media, anybody can get sappy at the end of King Kong. The real sign of an appreciation for the strange and wonderful in nature is getting teary-eyed at the end of Alien, when the only interesting character in the whole film other than the cat gets blown out the airlock.

  55. Federico Contreras says

    Paul Riddle (Voldemort? No wonder you’re rooting for the 300lb parasite):

    If it’s any consolation, I got choked up when brundlefly takes the shotgun that his girlfriend is holding and aims it at his own head…

    My girlfriend got all teary when robocop gets verbally blasted in robocop 2 (the scene where they make him admit he’s a machine… she was really gushing, and when I asked why, she explained that they were being mean to him).

    I got choked up at the end of KK and I thought the movie rocked. My only complaint was that there was not ENOUGH scenes in the jungle showing off all sorts of strange CGI beasties.

    By the time they got KK into the city, my heart was already broken.

    I never saw the original, but PZ makes it sound like it was Casablanca with monkeys instead of a comic book romp with _REALLY_ cheezy stop motion animation. I would watch the original for camp value, but comparing the two is like comparing a ford model T and a ford GT40 and saying that they got it right the first time.

  56. says

    Good news everybody! I just discovered that Kong’s tyranosaurus like but oddly six fingered foes are actually Venatosaurs, or Hunter-lizards, according to the toy box I saw in the supermarket today. On the back of the box it proclaimed that the toy had razor sharp teeth that really bite. I think if they had done more market research the toy manufacturer may have discovered that most parents don’t want their children to have toys that have razor sharp teeth and which really bite, but who knows? Maybe parents are sick of kids breaking their toys and want to buy ones that can defend themselves. Electric shock Elmo could be the next big thing.

  57. Gillie says

    This is the first review of the movie I’ve seen that mentions the racism, which is amazing to me. The original is all about racism, which is why I was so disapointed to hear Jackson was remaking it. I was hoping he was going to redeem it somehow, but it seems he didn’t.

    By the way, the Maori were considered very scary, they fought back and were quite good at it, which of course the English thought was manly and civilised of them. Not that it helped them in the end.

  58. says

    A great piece of movie criticism. Meaning, it catches pretty much all the points that occurred to me, or didn’t quite occur to me, and makes much better sense of them than one’s own random maunderings do.

    Funny thing about those dropped plot lines: I don’t usually pick up on those things, but here it was so flagrant that I couldn’t miss it, which indicates really feeble movie-making.

    Ar least two commenters have noted that “it’s called suspension of disbelief.” Well, if we’re going to be patronizing about it: as every schoolboy knows, Aristotle talked about the willing suspension of disbelief. [italics added] This is about emotion and not intellect, as we’re also informed; so if you provide interminable sequences of thrills, chills, and spills, with the necessary gross-out sequences not overlooked, then you can force people to suspend their disbelief. Nope. Some of us just lose interest and it gets booooring; and we start thinking about what’s wrong.

    Actually, I didn’t mind the Legolas-oliphaunt thing; a dozen things not much worse than that wouldn’t have kept LOTR from being a fine movie, if that had been the worst of it; how sad that it wasn’t. My only problem with that scene was that I kept wondering why he didn’t fly around and around its legs, entangling them in a cable so that it would go crashing to the ground in time for him to get back to the base and blast out of there with Princess Leia.

    But, you know, this just means that I’m not the audience for these movies; likewise, a bunch of other people, it appears. These opinions are not likely to bother Jackson much on his way to the bank. But it’s good to clarify one’s thoughts about why it’s the wrong movie or one is the wrong audience, not only for the practical purpose of avoiding future dogs, but because clarifying ideas is good in itself.

    My rationale for the crit biz, offered free of charge.

  59. hamletta says

    …even the final line “Twas beauty killed the beast” (or whatever) coming from Jack Black, of all people, made me wince.

    Oh, dear. You’ve never seen the original, have you? That’s the big line at the end of the ’33 version. Not including it would have been the real travesty.

    I loved it. I saw it as Jackson asking himself, “What would Merian C. Cooper have done with a jillion dollars’ worth of CGI toys at his disposal?” The original was the special effects extravaganza of its day, pulling out all the stops with rear projection, stop-motion animation, and even the use of music, which was the first time a real score as we know it was used. (If you watch a lot of old movies, you begin to notice the only time you hear music is if there’s a scene in a nightclub or something.)

    The racism issue is tricky. Cooper had been all over the world, and had shot two documentaries about “other” cultures, Grass and Chang. He went to places no white people had been and lived with these tribes for a year or more, treating them and their cultures with the utmost respect. So Cooper’s portrayal of the Skull Islanders as “standard ’30s ooga-booga natives” is odd, and Jackson’s relegating it to Carl Denham’s show is a good decision.

    But after 75 years of National Geographic, Margaret Mead, the Civil Rights movement, and efforts to understand and respect other cultures and traditions, how do you portray a culture so alien as to not just frighten the characters, most of whom don’t know this stuff, but the audience, which does? And without coming off as racist or ethnocentric? To me, Jackson’s Skull Islanders are as warped-human as the underworld dwellers in the ’60s Time Machine, monkey fur, LEDs and all. But, as one commenter at Pandagon noted, the eyes-rolled-back ecstasy occurs in many cultures, and is not unfamiliar to anyone who’s seen Pentacostal Christians speaking in tongues.

    Don’t forget that Skull Island exists in some Bermuda Triangle-like corner/otherworld in absolute isolation, where compasses cease to function. If you lived your whole life on an island with a bunch of creatures who looked at you as an hors d’oeuvre, you’d have a hard time developing your culture beyond the lower rungs of Maslow’s Hierarchy, too.

  60. BG says

    Remember that scene in “Rushmore” when Jason S’s character has to go to public high school and he continues to wear his old private school uniform? He never gets his ass beat! How unrealistic is that! I mean, talk about heroification. That ruined the movie for me.

    Next time I want to be entertained I’m turning on reality tv. But ONLY the shows that don’t have any tricky editing. If there’s nothing on I guess i’ll go look out the window.

  61. says

    I’ve just realised that through the magic of the internets it is possible that Peter Jackson will actually read this. Now I wish I had been more positive in my first comment. Out of politeness to a fellow antipodean of course and not because I have this great script about an elf raised by dinosaurs who must vine wrestle for the woman he loves…

  62. Finback says

    A few side notes:

    1. The worm-things in the crevasse are called “Carnictis”, and are a form of evolved tapeworm.

    2. The V-rex were meant to look not-like-a-T.rex. They’ve had an extra 65 million years. They’ve gone from long legged sprinters with teeth designed for neat, shearing bites, to forest-dwelling grapplers, with snaggleteeth. The rib cage is shortened to allow them more flexibility.

    3. As to the location of the rest of Kong’s tribe.. that’s what all those giant ape skeletons in the cage were, beneath the nested Terapusmordax.

  63. Annalee Husband says

    Aw, ths ws rlly qlty pst. In thry I’d lk t wrt lk ths t – tkng tm nd rl ffrt t mk gd rtcl… bt wht cn I sy… I prcrstnt lt nd nvr sm t gt smthng dn.