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King Kong (2005 film)

What’s the next project you tackle after you make one of the most successful film trilogies of all time, making billions of dollars and winning multiple Oscars in the process? If you’re Peter Jackson, you do a remake of a movie about a monkey that already had another remake. He could have done anything he wanted after the Lord of the Rings and he chose to spend $207 million making a movie that everybody’s already seen. And it made $550.5 million. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.

Naomi Watts and Adrien Brody are the main characters, an unsuccessful actress and a published playwright respectively, who are duped into working for a shady filmmaker played by a miscast Jack Black. They head out to Skull Island to film a movie with a ragtag cast and crew. Skull Island is a place that time forgot about, inhabited by dinosaurs, gigantic insects, and, of course, King Kong.

Kong takes a fancy to Naomi Watts and kidnaps her. Adrien Brody has to save her because he’s the hero and it’s in the script. There are lots of cool sequences on the island, and eventually Kong is chloroformed and captured and Jack Black takes him back to New York City where he opens a show with an enslaved Kong as the star.

Kong escapes and tries to find the sexy blonde woman that stole his heart and destroys a city in the process before he climbs the Empire State Building and gets shot by fighter planes. Then Jack Black says, “It wasn’t the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast.” But you know that’s not true. You fucking see the fucking planes kill fucking Kong. Maybe he was speaking metaphorically, but you clearly see the planes murder the monkey.

King Kong drags on a bit in the beginning. It’s more than an hour before you see Kong for the first time. It’s called King Kong. Bring on the main attraction already. Once he shows up the movie takes off. There are a couple of cool creature sequences, highlighted by the fight between Kong and three wannabe T-rexes.  There’s also an ambitious scene with stampeding dinosaurs and shoddy CG work. It could have been cool, but it looks stupid.

Jack Black is miscast. Adrien Brody has a big fucking nose. Naomi Watts is sexy. Colin Hanks has a part in this movie because he has a famous dad. There is a stupid subplot between the Captain and a young cabin boy. Andy Serkis plays King Kong and has a role as the ship’s cook. He plays CG creatures better than he plays people. The less you see his face, the better.

Peter Jackson’s King Kong is both an homage to old Hollywood films and a current reminder that people will pay money to see unoriginal movies again and again and again. It has its moments, but it’s a bloated and unnecessary production. The world did not need another King Kong movie. But we got one.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Saving Silverman

Saving Silverman is a comedy about two friends trying to rescue their friend from a miserable relationship. Steve Zahn and Jack Black play Wayne and J.D. and Jason Biggs plays the titular Darren Silverman. Amanda Peet plays the succubus, Amanda Detmer plays Darren’s long lost love, and R. Lee Ermey plays their old football coach. Dennis Dugan (Big Daddy, Happy Gilmore) is in the director’s chair. It’s a stupid movie about stupid people, but it’s funny and that’s what a comedy should be.

Darren, Wayne, and J.D. are best friends since the fifth grade. They share a common obsession with Neil Diamond and are in a Neil Diamond tribute band. They spend their days drinking beers and hanging out and having fun. That all changes when Darren meets Judith (Amanda Peet). Judith is a controlling, manipulative psychologist who has Darren wrapped around her finger. She can’t stand J.D. and Wayne and forbids Darren from hanging out with them anymore.

Wayne and J.D. want their friend back and decide they have to save Darren at any cost. The best and most logical thing to do is to kidnap Judith and set up Darren with Sandy, his long lost love from high school. The two friends capture Judith and lock her up in their garage, leaving a fake note for Darren saying that she ran away and doesn’t want to marry him. Darren is distraught and misses her, but Wayne convinces him to go out with Sandy. He’s relieved to know that Sandy is preparing to take her final vows to become a nun, and he relaxes around her. They catch up on old times, they share laughs, they have a moment, and sparks fly.

Wayne and J.D. have their hands full with their cunning captive. She outsmarts them and escapes a few times. She analyzes J.D. and makes him realize his homosexuality. While his two best friends are holding his kidnapped fiancée hostage, Darren and Sandy are falling in love. She even decides to leave the convent for him. And Darren is finally happy again.

But of course Judith escapes, Darren goes back to her, Sandy goes back to the convent, and Wayne and J.D. go to jail. Darren and Judith are about to get married and Sandy is about to become a nun, but Wayne and J.D. escape from jail with the help of their old football coach. They save Sandy from her nun vows, then they kidnap Neil Diamond, then they all go to stop the wedding. Darren ends up with Sandy, Judith ends up with Wayne, and J.D. ends up with their old football coach.

This is a stupid movie. But it’s a cult classic now. Jack Black and Steve Zahn have a lot of great moments and quotable lines. They are also eight and ten years older than Jason Biggs. Jason Biggs looked too young to be their friend, he was a little miscast. His role isn’t that important either. Wayne is the main character, he is the one who calls all the shots, he opens the movie, and he’s the one trying to save Silverman.

If you weren’t a Neil Diamond fan going in to this movie, you will be when you come out. Be prepared for that.

Critically Rated at 10/17

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Kung Fu Panda 2

Kung Fu Panda was a surprisingly good film, and this sequel takes everything good about the first one, and expands it. It is a deeper and more complex film but is just as entertaining as the first one. Director Jennifer Yuh Nelson directs and Jack Black reprises his role as Po the Kung Fu Panda. It’s a cool CG movie with lots of action, comedy, and heart.

Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, David Cross, Seth Rogan, Lucy Liu, and Dustin Hoffman all return for the sequel, and Gary Oldman, Michelle Yeoh, Danny McBride, Dennis Haysbert, and Jean-Claude Van Damme join the voice cast as well. Props must be given to Jennifer Yuh Nelson for directing the highest grossing movie ever for a woman. Being a Korean American, she respects Asian culture and it shows on screen.

The main villain of this movie is an evil peacock tyrant named Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) who fears that a panda will one day defeat him. So he kills off all the pandas in China, except for one… the one who would grow up to be Po the Dragon Warrior (Jack Black). Po is living with his goose dad, Mr. Ping, and he begins to question his origins. Ping explains that he found Po in a radish crate when he was a baby, and he adopted him.

Po’s teacher, Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) continues training Po, saying that he still has to achieve inner peace. Shifu soon finds out that Lord Shen has returned to power. Shen has a powerful new weapon that is capable of wiping out Kung Fu. It’s up to Po and his animal posse to stop him.

They have a few battles with Shen, and they lose when Po’s past catches up with him. Shen and Po fight and it looks like Shen kills Po. But Po is the Kung Fu Panda and the franchise wouldn’t work without him, and so Po comes back and saves the day, having finally achieved inner peace. Inner peace makes you a more violent and efficient fighter. The movie ends on a cliffhanger, setting things up for a third chapter.

Kung Fu Panda was a fun movie. Kung Fu Panda 2 is a fun movie that is about self-discovery. Po is questioning who he is. His past comes into play. It references the first film while preparing you for the next one. It is the perfect second act in a trilogy. I have high hopes for the next one.

The animation is pretty good. It’s not as impressive as Pixar’s animation, but it serves the story well. The story is improved over the first one. It explores more themes and delves into more complex issues than the first movie.

Jack Black pretty much plays Jack Black in all his movies. When you hear Jack Black but see a fat panda, it is more enjoyable. He has a face made for voiceover.

Kung Fu Panda 2 is on par or perhaps exceeds the original. DreamWorks will never be Pixar, but they still know how to entertain.

Critically Rated at 13/17

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Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Will Ferrell makes Will Ferrell movies, and Anchorman is his best. Adam McKay (Talladega Nights, Eastbound & Down) directs and co-wrote the script with Will Ferrell, who stars as stars as Ron Burgundy, the best anchorman in San Diego. Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, and Christina Applegate costar, and Judd Apatow produces.

Ron Burgundy is the best damn anchorman in San Diego. He’s number one and isn’t afraid to let everyone know it. His Channel 4 News team is made up of meteorologist Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), sportscaster Champ Kind (David Koechner), and field reporter Brian Fontana (Paul Rudd). Brick is legally retarded, Champ has man crush on Ron Burgundy, and Brian fancies himself a ladies man, but doesn’t have much luck. It’s a happier and lighter style of reporting, showcased by the ongoing reports on Ling-Wong the pregnant panda.

Things are going great for a while, but it’s the ‘70s and times are changing. Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) is the first female reporter hired at the station, and she has to deal with the immature men and blatant sexism as she battles for respect. Her and Ron get together and start a relationship, but it’s doomed because she’s looking forward to the future and Ron is stuck in the past.

One day Ron has a run-in with an angry biker who kicks Ron’s dog Baxter off a bridge. Ron is too distraught to report the news, so Veronica fills in and nails it. Ron is hurt and betrayed that Veronica would read his news and ends their relationship. There’s no denying Veronica’s talent and she is promoted to co-anchor.

Ron and his news team try to get rid of her in various ways, but Veronica sabotages Ron’s teleprompter so that he says, “Go fuck yourself San Diego”. You generally can’t say shit like that on TV, so Ron gets fired and Veronica becomes the lead anchor.

After a few months, Ron is just a drunk, but Veronica is more famous and successful than Ron ever was. One day Ling-Wong the pregnant panda finally starts to give birth, so the all of San Diego’s media shows up for the story of the year. Veronica gets shoved into a bear pit by a rival anchor that wants a good shot of Ling-Wong giving birth. When nobody can find Veronica, Ron Burgundy gets a chance to report once again.

Ron cleans himself up and shows up at the zoo to do some anchoring, but when he sees Veronica is in trouble, he jumps into the bear pit too. And just for good measure the rest of the news team jumps in too. Just when it seems like they are completely fucked, Baxter the dog shows up again. After he got kicked off the bridge by an angry biker, he had a fantastic journey to get back to Ron. He met a bear named Katow-jo, who coincidently happens to be the bear’s cousin, and so Ron and Veronica and the Channel 4 news team is safe. Talk about deus ex machine.

Will Ferrell is hysterical but he plays the same character in every single movie. Anchorman was before he wore his shtick into the ground. But there’s no denying he is funny as hell. Anchorman would not have worked without Will Ferrell, but Paul Rudd, Steve Carell and David Koechner deserve a lot of the credit for making the movie one of the best comedies of that decade. Sex Panther… 60% of the time, it works every time. There are a lot of cameos: Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, Jack Black, Seth Rogan, Tim Robbins, and a few other celebs make appearances. The news team showdown is one of the highlights of the movie.

Judd Apatow movies are usually always good. He track record is almost as good as Pixar’s. Drillbit Taylor sucked but Cars 2 was no gem either. This is Will Ferrell’s best movie. I can’t wait for the sequel.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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