King Kong Poster

King Kong: Reviews for Andy Serkis

What the Critics said about
Andy Serkis as "Kong"

Review Writer
[King Kong] presents the interspecies love story between Kong (Andy Serkis, who also plays a shipboard cook named Lumpy) and Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) with touching sincerity. . . . The rapport between Watts and Serkis is extraordinary, even though it is mediated by fur, latex, optical illusions and complicated effects. Serkis, who also played Gollum in the "Lord of the Rings" movies, is redefining screen acting for the digital age. A.O. Scott,
New York Times
The true breakout star of this holiday season's $207 million mega-blockbuster is the guy behind the 8,000-pound gorilla - special-effects pseudo-simian Andy Serkis.  The actor who brought Gollum to life in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy is the man behind the CG'd (computer-generated) ape face, and it's his heartsick grunts and lovestruck gazes at palm-sized gal pal Ann Darrow that creates audience empathy for the good-at-heart gorilla. M.K., WTOP Radio Network
"King Kong" looks to have the right stuff for an Oscar nom. Here, predictions are that the big deal won't be the big ape, but the little guy playing the big ape: thesp Andy Serkis working his performance-capture magic. David S. Cohen, Variety
Actor Andy Serkis, who "played" Gollum, is also back for more, taking on Kong this time. Once again, he puts a big, thumping heart inside a digital body. Devin Gordon, Newsweek
Kong doesn't put in an appearance until the 70-minute mark, but he lives up to his billing. Jackson's go-to guy for live performance capture, Andy Serkis -- he played Gollum in "Rings" -- "acts" the Kong role, bringing a welter of emotions to his facial expressions and body contortions while encased in a gorilla muscle suit. Kirk Honeycutt, Hollywood Reporter
The film's climactic centerpiece and the best reason to see it on a big screen, is Kong's battle with the T-Rexes, an absolutely astounding piece of cinema and computer technology that you can't help but applaud.  But that's still not the best part of the movie, which would be the quieter scenes between Naomi Watts and the computer animated Kong. Andy Serkis, the actor that provided Kong's movements and facial expressions, much like he did the Rings' Gollum, brings so much credible humanity to the creature that you can see why Anne is taken with him. The nicest moment between them is the transition where Ann entertains Kong, convincing him to keep her alive. At that point, he becomes little more than a pet to her, while she becomes a very lively pet toy. Edward Douglas, ComingSoon.net
Kong turns in the most moving performance of the year, even if it's against the rules to give an Oscar to something that's equal parts CGI, movie wizardry and the facial expressions of Andy Serkis, the actor who made "Lord of the Rings'" Gollum so devilishly complex.
[Webmaster's note: Academy rules do not exclude Andy's performance as "Kong" from being nominated for Academy Awards in the "Best Actor" or "Best Supporting Actor" categories.]
Jami Bernard, New York Daily News
Save a roar for Andy Serkis, whose movements served as a model for Kong, just as they did for Gollum in The Lord of the Rings. Watts and Serkis make you believe -- not in an erotic fantasy, but in tenderness and longing. In the film's last hour, you'll bawl like a baby when Ann follows Kong to the top of the Empire State Building as he swats away the biplanes out to stop him from sharing one more sunrise with his lady. Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
Jackson reassembled his crack "LOTR" visual-effects teams and recruited Andy Serkis, the actor who played Gollum, to work his motion-capture magic again with the Great Ape. The effects deserve and will undoubtedly receive all the glory, but Serkis should get some gold, too. He nails the monkey's movements and gives the beast a recognizable soul. Glenn Whipp,
Los Angeles Daily News
Over a series of lovingly detailed and perfectly paced exchanges that would not have been possible without the casting of Serkis and Watts, Kong and Darrow transcend their pulp origins -- or rather, they ascend to the highest plateau of pulp. Michael Phillips,
Chicago Tribune
Then there is Kong: not so much an animated hearthrug, more a silverback gorilla the size of Bloomingdales. Everything works here: the fur, the eyes, the - well, the humanity. This digi-Kong, whose motions and grimaces were modelled for Jackson by Andy Serkis (who performed Gollum's movements in Lord of the Rings), runs the spectrum from anger to sadness, from lechery to love, from doting to playing hard-to-get. His "not talking to you" look when the captive Watts realises, late in a dinosaur-ridden day, that Kong is her last, best hope, is a thing of beauty all its own. Nigel Andrews, Financial Times
The third humanizing performance isn't even human: It's Kong, a magically expressive performance by the giant ape, based in part on studies of real silverback gorillas, re-created for the computer by actor Andy Serkis (who inspired the computer geniuses to bring Gollum to life for "The Lord of the Rings"). Serkis also plays Lumpy, the colorful ship's cook. Jack Garner,
Gannett News Service
Andy Serkis lends his talents to the CGI Kong, and manages to make the giant ape into a creature we come to care for, rather than fear, and that is to his credit. Jim Pappas,
The Trades
It's here where the valuable services of actor Andy Serkis come into play. Serkis (who also shines in a smaller role as Lumpy, the ship's cook) was hired by Jackson to perform the movements for Kong, and much like he did for Gollum in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, Serkis breathes life into the character.  Displaying a wide range of physical movements (his chest-thumping rocks) and emotions, Serkis not only gives a body to the beast -- his expressions and eyes give it soul. It's amazing to see the interaction that Jackson created between Watts (who's stunning throughout) and Serkis' Kong -- which as fantastical as the premise may seem, almost always comes off as real. In the end, Jackson, Serkis, and Watts not only make "King Kong" a wildly entertaining action-adventure film, but a classic -- albiet tragic -- "Beauty and the Beast" love story as well. Tim Lammers, IBS
Once again, Jackson owes a debt to his motion-capture muse Andy Serkis—who portrayed Gollum, and here modeled Kong’s movements—but he creates a relationship here through brilliantly efficient nonverbal storytelling. Every chuffing snort and wounded shrug conveys feeling. We get to see a machine of destruction understand amusement, natural beauty and respect for Ann’s spirit. Scott Renshaw, Salt Lake City Weekly
The CGI Kong himself is truly astounding. He is a credit not only to the masterful digital rendering of a giant ape with a caring soul, but also thanks to the motion capture performance of actor Andy Serkis (LORD OF THE RINGS). Serkis gives Kong his facial expressions and mannerisms that make us actually shed a tear or two at the end of the film. Sean Elliot,
iFMagazine
I must say Andy Serkis has a memorable performance in this film. Doubling is a talent that I've only seen Serkis master (first with Smeagol/Gollum in LotR) and his crazy Lumpy the Cook character along with King Kong himself just shows you what a marvel this guy is. Kit-Kat,
CountingDown
The whole concept of Kong, as Jackson designs it, is provocative. The role is actually "acted" by Andy Serkis, who played Gollum in the "Ring" films -- which is to say that Serkis physically performed the stunts and moves, which were recorded on computer disk by sensors attached to his body, and those data were in turn decoded into images (don't ask me how and I don't really care). Clearly he studied gorilla movement. He's also a uniquely physically expressive man, almost a dancer, who communicates eloquently with his body. Stephen Hunter,
The Washington Post
If there is some justice in Hollywood, Andrew Serkis (Gollum in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy) should be nominated for an Oscar. He is delightful as the ship's cook but his contribution in helping create a vivid Kong Kong is the work of legend. Arthur J Pais,
Rediff
The greatest flaw I can detect is in the film's publicity posters, which list Watts, Brody and Black, but omit Andy Serkis, the actor whose motion-captured facial expressions and body language were the foundation for Kong. Serkis' contribution truly is something we've never seen, an entirely new category of computer-enhanced acting. With not a word of dialogue, he brings to life a close cousin to man with whom we can empathize, yet is never too human-like. Colin Covert,
Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune
The film's best performance belongs to Kong himself, an amalgam of computer-generated imagery and an assured performance by Andy Serkis, who brought Gollum to life in the LOTR films. David Walker,
Wilamette Week
The invaluable Serkis, who gives King Kong his personality, can also be seen in human form as Lumpy the cook. Charlie Cox,
The Advocate-Messenger
Director Jackson also scores with the casting of Andy Serkis, previous seen as Gollum in LOTR, in dual roles. Serkis is first seen in human form, as the ship's one eyed cook "Lumpy;" and, in CGI form, as the very expressive title character.  In fact, Serkis' performance as Kong is so realistic, one can't help but to cheer him on as he fights dinosaurs, and biplanes atop of the newly built Empire State Building, as several audience members did during the screening this reviewer attended. Lowell C. Johnson,
Syfy
The overall effect of Andy Serkis’ body writhing Kong contortions perfectly synchronized with those perfect model dinosaurs we saw in Jurassic Park is truly remarkable. Ron Wilkinson,
M&C Movies
Jackson favorite Andy Serkis (who created Gollum in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy) is the human playing Kong. You'll need to get the DVD on the making of "King Kong" to know how Serkis did it, but there is no doubt this King Kong is a living, breathing creature who became a victim of his own oversized heart. Chuck Graham,
Tucson Citizen
Actor Andy Serkis provided the same actorly basis for Kong as he did for Gollum in Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” films; their work here, along with the visual-effects crew, sets an unmatchable standard for the medium that demands to be seen on the largest screen possible. Nick Rogers,
Springfield State Journal-Register
If Jackson is gambling on Kong's heart, largely brought to life by Andy Serkis (who did the same for the Rings' Gollum), he appears to be on to a winner in every regard. Lesley O'Toole,
The Independent
King Kong is a magnificent creature, a majestic ape with a repertoire of fine wrestling-holds and expressive eyes. Andy Serkis (Gollum from Lord Of The Rings) who also plays Lumpy, a one-eyed cook in the film, grunts emphatically enough to make King Kong breathe, giving him soul. From anger to indignation, surprise to ecstasy, we are soon empathising, totally bowled over by the mammoth monkey. A scene on a frozen lake is indescribably beautiful, and pure movie magic. Raja Sen,
Rediff
Special props go out to Andy Serkis, who played Gollum in the Rings trilogy, and here provides the gorilla movement for Kong. Though his work will largely go by unnoticed, his studied ape subtleties work on the audience’s collective subconscious throughout the film. Patrick Gavin,
DiamondBack
Kong himself, created by combining CGI with a motion-capture performance by Andy Serkis, is an absolute masterpiece of special effects. Undoubtedly the greatest ever CGI character put to screen (besting even Gollum), he never ceases to appear totally real or engage the audience as a fully formed character. Dominic Corry,
TVNZ
Kong's soul is provided by actor Andy Serkis, who expertly performs (as he did for Gollum in "The Lord of the Rings") the body movement that was then translated into computer animation. Sean P. Means,
The Salt Lake City Tribune
See it twice, initially for the superb computer-enhanced portrayal of Kong by Andy Serkis, who used similar motion-capture animation techniques to play Gollum in Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy. Steve Persall,
St. Petersburg Times
If the Academy weren’t so damn conservative, he’d be in with a fighting chance of earning Andy Serkis (who provided the motion-captured moves) an acting gong, too. Dan Jolin,
Empire
Serkis makes Kong remarkably fluid in his emotions: This is the first giant gorilla with an actor's subtext. He even has spells of depression, staring out from his cliff-throne at the sunset—a lonely monarch, indeed. David Edelstein,
Slate
Andy Serkis -- the body under Gollum's digital skin in ''The Lord of the Rings" -- gives Kong enough personality, enough soul, to make you believe he'd tumble for Watts's Ann Darrow, and the director works overtime to create a love story between the two that's substantially deeper than anything offered by the original or the misbegotten 1976 remake. Ty Burr,
Boston Globe
The giant computer-generated Kong (acted on the set by the inimitable Andy Serkis, a.k.a. Gollum) is extraordinary. It may even be the screen’s most emotionally satisfying animal attraction since Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête. In particular, the final scenes in New York, atop the Empire State Building, are devastating in a way that the original Kong didn’t even attempt Scott Foundas,
LA Weekly
Like Warner Brothers cartoon voice Mel Blanc, Serkis may be doomed to never quite getting the praise he deserves. But there is no question that his work goes a long way to creating our sense of a real personality behind Kong’s huge CGI exterior. Andy Klein,
LA City Beat
Kong himself—man. Just as he performed Gollum in Jackson's The Lord of the Rings, Andy Serkis provides "on-set reference and motion-capture performance" for the CG Kong—and, as with Gollum, it's a startlingly organic performance. Watching Kong furiously fight dinosaurs and gracefully swing from colossal trees is impressive; more so is watching the subtle movements of his lips, the sad glimmer behind his eyes, the earth-shaking rage that erupts when his fists slam into the earth. Erik Henrikson-Henrikson,
The Stranger

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