King Kong

It would be easy to list the faults in Jack Buchanan’s fan film King Kong, which is why various YouTube users have decided to pile on.

After its exclusive premiere at the Gem Theatre in Keswick, ON, Buchanan uploaded his labour of love on his production company’s YouTube account for worldwide movie goers to watch.  By doing so, I suppose the Queensville filmmaker understands the inevitable level of anonymous scrutiny and how each comment should be taken with a grain of salt.  But, do these jaded users have to be so nitpicky?  What’s the point?  To pour salt on the film’s wounds?  Even the positive reception is preempted by variations of “hey, you tried your best”.

There were a few times in King Kong’s ungainly two-and-a-half-hour runtime when I realized that my grading rubric had to change.  That’s not to dismiss six-years worth of effort Buchanan’s epic shows on screen, but it obviously belongs in a league of DIY projects where enthusiastic ingenuity is greater than overall presentation.

In that respect, King Kong could inspire young, patient viewers to make movies of their own.  Buchanan utilizes different styles of filmmaking that are easy to identify, but he’s also able to display how far imagination can push those limits.  For those grown-ups who have made amateur home movies, King Kong blends their nostalgia with sincere creativity.  The movie’s use of homemade stop-motion animation mixed with elements of live-action footage is a great example of both appreciations.  The replica prop of King Kong’s massive arm is also a nice touch.

I also admired how game the production was.  Leading actors Brett Charles, James C. Robson, and Sylvana Boonstra find their own charisma within their roles and use it to gain memorability.  The other actors who fill out supporting roles and add to the busy background are also dedicated.  No one – not even for a second – wears a shade of pessimism.  Cosplaying personality Sean Ward also appears briefly, while James Rolfe (Angry Video Game Nerd) and Doug Walker (The Nostalgia Critic) have disguised voiceovers.

Jack Buchanan is an intelligent amateur.  Introductory title cards make it clear that he’s aware of the film’s glaring audio flaws.  He intends to fix them, although he’ll have to use subtitles over those windy clips – he has no other choice.  This acknowledgment, however, signals to me that he wants to give an audience his best work, but he also knows he can always do better.  Some tenured filmmakers still have yet to make that epiphany.


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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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