This week is 'Animal Week' as far as the movie releases are concerned so let's crack on with the biggest animal of them all: King Kong.
We'll start with the Times, where their (strangely anonymous) reviewer awards the big monkey four stars.
"A visceral nightmare with scenery to match, concludes the Times, "Jackson’s set pieces put every adventure film you’ve ever seen in the shade while poaching rides from the best." Which is all well and good but what about the story? This thing is three hours long after all.
"The film, of course, is a humungous dollop of corn. " Oh right. Good corn we presume, as you've seen fit to give it four stars.
It's another four stars from the Independent where we're treated to a slightly better analysis of what actually makes this film work.
This King Kong is a barnstorming epic and, at over three hours, its attack feels occasionally stretched; it takes a while to catch fire and then a little too long to end. Yet in counterbalance it has intimacy, comedy and even a touch of humility, the more welcome for being so unexpected.
As for the performances Anthony Quinn thinks that Naomi Watts "hasn't been this affecting since her entranced ingenue in Mulholland Drive, and given that most of the time she's acting against technology, it's doubly impressive," and Jack Black gets a mention too. But it's Andy Serkis of course who gets a special mention as "his motion-capture performance as Kong [is] almost the expressive equal of his magnificent Gollum in LOTR."
No real mention of Adrien Brody though... is Quinn trying to tell us something?
Finally it's over to the Guardian where Peter Bradshaw gives the maximum five stars to Peter Jackson and his pet primate.
Now Bradders doesn't give out full marks to just any film, so he must have really been impressed by this one:
This new Kong Kong is a folie de grandeur with real grandeur; in its power, its spectacle, and its spine-tinglingly beautiful vision of 1930s New York, it is a thing of wonder. It certainly equals, and even exceeds, anything Jackson did in Lord of the Rings. I admit that when I heard that Jackson proposed to revive the original in its Depression period setting, I thought it a failure of nerve. The first Kong was set in 1933, but made in 1933. It was fiercely contemporary. Was the idea of a modern destructive force endangering Manhattan's buildings in 2005 too uncomfortable for obvious reasons - especially considering that the very substandard 1976 remake had the ape shinning up the Twin Towers? Maybe. And yet Jackson brings such brio, such crystalline perfection to every detail of his 1930s city, that the proper reaction is not to cavil but to swoon.
Wow, Peter Bradshaw is about to swoon! Someone fetch the smelling salts quick.
We could have done without the monkey analogy at the end of the review though: "There's no cage strong enough for the sheer brute strength of Jackson's movie, a muscularity matched by its ingenuous love for the great beast himself. Like his tiny blonde worshipper, you will be in the palm of his hand."
And so from King Kong... to Lassie (we couldn't find the official movie site, and to be honest we couldn't be bothered looking for more than three minutes).
Now normally we wouldn't bother looking at the reviews for this, mainly because it's just not something we'd even consider going to see. But there is one main reason for our interest... and that's Pete Bradshaw's review.
Pete gives it one star but that's pretty much by the by because the ENTIRE REVIEW is written in the style of a Lassy film.
Here's the first paragraph:
What? What's that? What is it, girl? ... Oh love, look - it's our preternaturally intelligent collie! I was just having my tea and she keeps barking, pulling at my sleeve, running to the back door, barking in the direction of the old disused mine shaft, running back, pulling at my sleeve, barking, and running to the back door and barking again! She's done it about 15 times! D'you think she wants us to follow her? ...
And it goes on like that for five more paragraphs. We think PB might have finally cracked.
Over in the Times it's much "mawkish stuff [which] just about takes the dog biscuit for clunkiness."
Of course, as well as being animal week in filmword, it's also that weird Xmas period where nothing decent gets released (and of course no one wants to have to contend with the monkey). Which means all we're left with is Sarah Jessica Parker in The Family Stone.
God help us.
God help Anthony Quinn too it seems, who gives the film what can only be a seasonally adjusted two stars despite his claim that "as a tribute to touchy-feely family values. only Cameron Crowe's recent Elizabethtown could top this for sheer falseness and vacuity."
Thankfully Pete Bradshaw does not disappoint and gives this film the single starit only just deserves. But only just , because Claire Danes is in it, and PB loves Claire Danes:
Usually any film with Danes in it is all right in my book. She is at any rate the only one here who looks like a recognisable human being. But even she can't improve this grisly, manipulative, mawkish, and thoroughly phoney film.
It's The Times though which wins the award for the most downright vitriolic and contemptuous review of the week. Their assessment is just one long upchuck of disgust and misery... so here's an excerpt (it's a one starrer by the way):
What sinks this Christmas turkey from the outset is the fact that all the characters are such horrible, judgmental people that it’s difficult to have sympathy for anyone. The film plays the cancer card — and chucks in a couple of babies for good measure — and we still don’t give a fig for their festive angst. It’s a disingenuous piece of film-making, which, while it paints its characters as realistically flawed and complex people, cops out with a preposterously upbeat fantasy ending, with every loose end tied and every character neatly paired off.
In film news this week, it looks like Bruce Willis is going to make a movie that sounds an awful lot like the old TV series Midnight Caller.
While in the section marked 'genuinely interesting stuff' the good news is that Simon Pegg's Hot Fuzz has got the proverbial green light from Working Title.
By the way this is the 50th ever Friday Film News...doesn't really mean anything just thought we'd point it out.