Hard News by Russell Brown

Kong's really good

On Sunday afternoon, the family went and saw Kong. And we loved it. I thought it was a tremendous piece of film-making, if one - given the look of a couple of weak CGI sequences - that they didn't quite get to finish. (I should note that there are also many amazing feats of imagery - you'll never see the good old Civic Theatre quite the same way again.) The crowd cheered and applauded after Kong finished off the V Rexes. Naomi Watts (mostly luminous, occasionally earthy) was great. The script was spot-on. And it just didn't feel like a three-hour movie to me.

But not everyone feels the same way. There's something of a fanboy backlash in motion, to judge by the Talkback section at Ain't Cool News (warning: spoilers). Emboldened by a relatively weak Wednesday opening (only the 21st best ever), some movie geeks have been furiously picking nits from Kong's fur.

I suspect Jackson cops this precisely because he is, publicly, a fanboy - just a very successful one, who gets to make the movies he always wanted to make, and loads up on Oscars. It's as if he's gotten above his station or something.

Some of the sillier critiques include the claim that the "bat rescue" scene is preposterous. Dudes, it's a movie about a giant ape that lives on an island with a bunch of dinosaurs and giant insects. That's preposterous. Get over it.

Inevitably, the Kong-is-racist theme comes up in discussions. Someone takes issue with the portrayal of the Skull Islanders: "They have these amazing people in New Zealand called the Maori, who are real Pacific islanders ... why not make a small community of them?" Oh yes, that would have been clever. Not. Look, the natives of Skull Island are a bunch of tricked-out blue-black zombie people. They're not meant to resemble any real "community" of Pacific Islanders. That would have been offensive.

Another guy criticised Peter Jackson for not casting Samuel L. Jackson in the Carl Denham role (which would have been a truly shitty piece of casting) before offering: "Peter Jackson is just insensitive to race issues, probably because he is from New Zealand." Uh, what? Turns out that apparently the problem was that, not being an American, Jackson couldn't possibly understand racism in an American context, and therefore his film is, er, racist.

Actually, I think Jackson has handled and re-interpreted the non-PC elements of the original remarkably well, most notably in the shift to a less sympathetic portrayal of the Denham character. He's done it and still made a great modern matinee picture. The idea that someone could wet themselves over the last three turgid Star Wars films and not have fun at this movie just defeats me.

Sunday was otherwise quiet, because on Saturday I had all the Public Address bloggers (apart from Jolisa and Keith, who were offshore), CactusLab and their significant others over for a huge Christmas lunch - free-range turkey, barbecued butterflied leg of lamb and home-smoked salmon fillets, plus salads from 5 Loaves and 2 Fish and a large and decadent chocolate-cherry-marscapone thing from Rocket Kitchen. And plenty of wine. Fabbo.

Paul and Morgan came over later on to bring the gayness and several of us ventured out to a party at the Musket Room put on by Johnny from Il Buco, which turned out to be a fine finish to a long day. Dick Johnson and the Professor DJd, and I had a lickle dance. I also chatted to Milan from Pluto and asked him what 'Long White Cross' was about. (He said it was a personal thing.) There's a lot to be said for a party that (a) doesn't make you wait till 2am for anything to happen, and (b) does not require you to travel further west than Ponsonby Road. Yowsa.

Anyway, it's a nice day out there - and there are no neo-Nazis with petrol bombs, or Lebanese gangsters with petrol bombs, or police (justifiably, but regrettably) boarding buses and going through everyone's text messages, or the prospect of the beaches going into lockdown for the whole summer - and I've got to take all the hire stuff back. So, later …