From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: King Kong (2005)

Welcome back to the third update in our Kaiju Month series. This time around we will once more be taking a look at my personal favorite Kaiju, Titan, Giant Movie Monster or whatever you want to call him, and of course I am talking about King Kong! Since I was a very young lad, I have been a fan of the giant monster movies that I would watch on TV, mostly station TBS, and would also later always rent and or buy on VHS, and at the top of my list was always King Kong! Don’t get me wrong, I am a massive fan of Godzilla as well and will always cheer him on as he stomps around fighting off other Kaiju or the pesky army…but Kong has always been my top guy. So if you are ready for some Kaiju destruction, let’s get running to this From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: King Kong (2005) update!

Let’s first take a moment to take a look at 2005’s King Kong and his strength, weaknesses and ways he can deal with people and things that get in his mighty way. King Kong stands around 25 feet tall and is a powerhouse of muscle and pride and will stand his ground against any enemy that dares to get in his way. King Kong uses his bare hands to smash and crush man and monster alike and as well can use his massive size to stomp the life away from his target. King Kong is also very smart and can think of ways to win fights as well as plan attacks when not in a full rage. Kong can also use his sharp teeth to shred flesh! King Kong’s never back down attitude is both a strength and a weakness as it can lead to his downfall as he does not have any instinct to flee even when he should. Another weakness is his love for Ann Darrow, a stunning human with blonde hair that he would do anything to protect. King Kong can also be hurt with lots of bullets from military grade weapons as well as can suffer injuries from sharp objects like other Kaiju’s teeth and claws. He can also be dazed with blunt force as well as with gas leaving him open for attacks. Just like any living thing, King Kong can be hurt, but I feel sorry for anything foolish enough to try and do so. King Kong might not have the most fancy of powers, but one thing is for sure, he is one massive beast that is smart and powerful.

So as you can see, King Kong is a true force of nature, and while in 2005, he might not have been the biggest Kaiju on the block, he still was one that made an impact in all those who encountered him. So now that we know what King Kong can do when it comes to destruction, we now need to take a look at the film this version of Kong is from. As always, our friends at IMDB will supply the films plot and I will talk about the films production as well as my thoughts on the film. So if you are ready, let’s talk about Kong and is 2005 film adventure.

King Kong (2005)

“Carl Denham needs to finish his movie and has the perfect location; Skull Island. But he still needs to find a leading lady. This ‘soon-to-be-unfortunate’ soul is Ann Darrow. No one knows what they will encounter on this island and why it is so mysterious, but once they reach it, they will soon find out. Living on this hidden island is a giant gorilla and this beast now has Ann is its grasps. Carl and Ann’s new love, Jack Driscoll must travel through the jungle looking for Kong and Ann, whilst avoiding all sorts of creatures and beasts. But Carl has another plan in mind.”

Director Peter Jackson grew up a mega fan of the 1933 film King Kong, and he has always credited it as one of his biggest influence in becoming a film director. After the major success of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy he was able to get Universal to work alongside him to make a modern remake, but a little known fact is that his King Kong contract with Universal started before Lord Of The Rings! That’s right, Universal who worked with Jackson on “The Frightners” was so impressed with what they saw, they offered him first to remake “Creature From The Black Lagoon” and after he said no, they offered him “King Kong” and at first he said no…but gave in. And did I mention these original talks took place in 1996 and after getting cold feet, Universal pulled out of the film at the last minute due to the 1998 Godzilla film being on the horizon. So Peter Jackson moved onto making Lord Of the Rings films The Fellowship Of The Ring and The Two Towers for New Line Cinema and with them both being box office hits, Universal once more came sniffing around and wanted him to make King Kong…and once again he agreed to do so and brought on writer Philippa Boyens to spice up his old script/rewrite it and got a budget of $175 million from Universal. Production of the film started in September 6, 2004 and filming was set in New Zealand and actors like Naomi Watts, Adrien Brody, Jack Black, Colin Hanks, Lobo Chan and Andy Serkis did the motion capture of King Kong himself. The production was a crazy one and was a long and crazy shoot of green screen effects as well other stunts and visual effects. They would bring composer James Newton Howard on to do the film’s score. The film would be released in New York on December 5, 2005 and would go wide on the 14th of December.

The film was meet with positive reviews from fans and critics and even Roger Ebert gave it a glowing review. The film did amazing for Universal at the US Box Office bringing in $218,080,025.00 with foreign did $332,437,332.00 on the final budget of $207 million. It was the 5th grossing film that year at the box office and beat out other Sci-Fi, Horror and Cult films like Batman Begins, Fantastic Four, Saw II, The Ring Two, Exorcism Of Emily Rose, Sin City, The Amityville Horror, Corpse Bride, Legend Of Zorro, House Of Wax, The Fog, Doom, Land Of The Dead and Kung Fu Hustle to name a few. So as you can see, King Kong was a big hit in 2005 and showed that this classic movie monster had lots to offer to moviegoers.

When I heard that King Kong was being remade I was very hyped to watch it as I have always been a mega fan…but when I saw that Peter Jackson was doing it off the heels of his overly long Lord Of The Ring films and this one as well was going to be super long…the hyped died a little as I had a bad feeling that Jackson would over bloat the story and production. And while he did do this, when I finally got off my high horse and gave the film a chance, I found that while over done, it was still an enjoyable film that helped keep the King Kong character and story alive for a new generation. Much of the film worked for me as I found all the human characters very likable and all of them had interesting backstories as well as interactions with each other. Naomi Watts plays Ann, and she is fantastic and is one of the most beautiful actresses in Hollywood. The stuff on Skull Island as well is very awesome with Kong fight off two massive T-Rexes as well as the crew searching around to save Ann as they encounter all the strange animals that inhabit the island. Not to mention King Kong in this movie is as massive and protective as ever. The downside is some of the overly cheesy moments like Kong and Ann on the ice in New York…so cheesy. Over all, while this 2005 is not my favorite King Kong film, it’s still an enjoyable film that brought the world’s favorite giant New York stomping gorilla back to the big screen.

Like all blockbuster movies, 2005’s King Kong had its fair share of merchandise that treated fans to some amazing stuff like novels, comic books, t-shirts, posters, trading cards, action figures, Halloween costumes, plush dolls, score soundtrack, video games among many other items. I myself enjoyed the video game for the PS2 as I found it lots of fun to play as both man and beast, and I also really enjoy the soundtrack CD as I find that James Newton Howard did a fantastic job of capturing the epic nature of the film and is one that I play on WYSO from time to time. I also have one of the massive action figures of Kong that I bought at a thrift store shortly after the film was released on home video. So if you like Peter Jackson’s King Kong, there are so many cool items for you to collect.

Did you know that Peter Jackson’s films King Kong and Dead-Alive are connected? Well they are! That’s right, the unrated gory cult film Dead Alive about reanimated zombies and the Hollywood massive budget film King Kong take place in the same world as in the belly of the ship Venture is a crate that holds the one and only Sumatran Rat-Monkey!! Imagine what would have happened if the Rat-Money would have been on board gotten free and bit King Kong turning him into a massive zombie primate that would have been almost impossible to stop. Just wanted to share this connection as I find it very cool and something I feel many people know, but not all. Oh and if you remember in Dead-Alive the zombie plagued even started on Skull Island, showing these two films are linked!

So as you can see, King Kong truly is a force of nature and is one of the strongest and smartest Kaiju Monsters to grace a movie screen in 2005 and every version to hit the big screen. Well we are at the point now that we will take a look at the comic based on the film and I will be grading it on a scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I want to thank Game Swap Kettering for having this comic in stock and making this update possible. So if you are ready, let’s travel to Skull Island along with Dark Horse Comics and see what this comic adaptation has to offer.

King Kong # 1  ***
Released in 2005     Cover Price $3.99     Dark Horse     #1 of 3

Ann Darrow is an actress who very much wants to make it big on the stage in New York, but does not have the name value to get the parts she is perfect for. Filmmaker Carl Denham is working on his next epic jungle picture, and the movie execs are not happy with the footage or the fact he is asking for more money in order to shoot the film at an uncharted island, and when he over hears them talking about canceling the production he steals the reels and goes on the run. Denham on his way to the ship Venture finds Ann Darrow and convenes her to be his leading actress and along with his assistant Preston, scriptwriter Jack Driscoll, actor Bruce Baxter and the rest of the filmmaker crew set out to sea and toward an island they don’t know about. While filming on the ship, Ann and Jack start to fall in love with each other and soon the dock at Skull Island! Denham takes his film crew to the shore, and they start looking for places to film. They notice a massive wall built around the land and this sends shivers down many spines. As Denham and the film crew walk further, they are surrounded by spear caring natives who have taken an interest in Ann and as they are about to grab her Captain Englehorn and his crew fire gunshots into the air scaring them away. That evening while back on the ship a massive storm rages on as both film crew and ship crew prepare the ship for sea in the dangerous weather and Jack takes notice that Ann is gone and they find two dead shipmates with spears in them they head off to the native village with guns in hand and to their horror they find Ann tied to an alter and a massive gorilla that’s called Kong about to nab her.

This first issue’s plot builds up our film crew as well as builds the romance between actress Ann Darrow and writer Jack Driscoll and teases the wild land that is Skull Island with a peek at King Kong at the very end. Ann Darrow is our main character as she is a down on her luck stage actress who wants to get her one big break and thinks she has found it in this new jungle film from goofy conman director Carl Denham who is the main person who causes all the heartbreak and drama this tale has coming. Denham really is a scummy person who is even making this film with stolen equipment. Jack Driscoll is a good man who loves writing and seeing his work come alive on stage and screen, and he falls for Ann super fast and clearly would do anything to keep her safe. The rest of our characters are just around and had not been fully developed in this first issue. The Natives of Skull Island in this issue come off as savages in nature as they kill as well as kidnap in order to please their “God” known as Kong. Sadly we only get a small glimpse at King Kong in this issue, and it’s clear he is massive and pissed and wants to claim his prize of a beautiful blonde woman. I do wish we got a little more action of Kong but it was just not meant to be. This issue does have some horror adventure moments like the Natives attacking as well as the appearance of Kong, it packs some none gruesome deaths in with the spearing deaths of two ship workers. The one thing I am sure you noticed is that this comic series was suppose to be a three issue mini series with only one issue ever being released, and later they would just put the whole comic out as a graphic novel…this stinks as it would have been great to have all three issues in hand and made for this Kaiju Month update but Dark Horse dropped the ball. The cover for this issue is ok and showcases a production still from the movie and has King Kong looking very annoyed, it is eye catching for fans of the film and character. The interior art is done by Dustin Weaver and is solid and captures the mood and feel of the film very well. Over all this comic is a great read and does the film justice…it’s just a shame that Dark Horse only delivered the first issue to readers of a three issue mini series. If you love the movie, make sure to check out this comic as I feel you will love it as well. Take a look at the art below to see the style of art Weaver used in this issue.

King Kong truly is my favorite Kaiju, and I do feel like he not only makes for great movies but also comics and even this issue proves that. But Kaiju Month comes to an end with our next update and the next subject is the only other Kaiju who rivals Kong and is his top opponent ever and I am talking about the one and only Godzilla! So until next time, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Kaiju film or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next time for some quality time with the King Of The Monsters.

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