King Kong (2005 novelization)
With vaudeville in its death throes, actress Ann Darrow finds herself out of a job in Depression-era New York. But her luck changes when she meets Carl Denham -entrepreneur, raconteur, adventurer, and filmmaker- a man struggling to make a name for himself in the entertainment industry. Bold, ebullient, and charismatic, Denham leads Ann, along with famed playwright Jack Driscoll and the crew of the tramp steamer Venture, on a faraway filmmaking expedition, to the Indian Ocean and the legendary, primordial jungles of Skull Island. It is here that Denham hopes to capture on film the waning undiscovered wonders of the world - wonders available to anyone for the price of admission.
In the depths of the Great Depression, New York is an unforgiving place. Vaudeville performer Ann Darrow finds solace on the stage at the Lyric Theater until it is shut down without notice. With encouragement from her friend and fellow performer Manny, and nothing left to lose, Ann sends an audition resume to the producer of the play Isolation by Jack Driscoll. Opting to buy food instead of paying rent, she finds herself hopeless when her letter is returned unopened. She tracks down the producer, who reveals the play had already been cast, and out of guilt or compassion, he directs her to a burlesque theater for work. Elsewhere, struggling filmmaker Carl Denham is silently outraged by his unappreciative financiers. On learning that they plan to scrap his film for stock footage, he and his assistant Preston make arrangements to escape with their footage, and a map to a legendary island. However, Preston informs him that they have lost their lead actress, and Denham is forced to search for a new one. No casting agency can produce an actress on such short notice, and he is forced to search for looks alone. During his search he is enticed by Ann, whom he sees storming away from the burlesque theater. Ann steals an apple from a street vendor, having no money and nothing to eat, and when she is caught Denham buys her way out of the situation and buys her dinner. He attempts to get her to sign on, and she intends to accept his charity and to refuse. However, Denham reveals that Driscoll was the film's writer, and she accepts. They hurry to the Venture, where Preston informs Denham that the police were coming for them, and Denham is able to convince Captain Englehorn to leave the port early. However, Denham's lifelong friend Driscoll has come aboard to deliver his unfinished script. Denham tricks him into staying aboard too long, and the ship sets sail. Over the next few days, the sailors and film crew get comfortable in their surroundings as Driscoll and Darrow attempt to cope with their growing feelings for one another. Jack continues writing a comedy play titled Cry Havoc for Ann in his enamored state, and shows it to her. This discussion results in the two of them sharing a kiss. However, Preston discovers Denham's map to Skull Island, and tells the sailors, who head him off in the mess hall. Sailors Hayes and Lumpy tell of a sailor they rescued seven years back who warned them of a fog-covered island on which there was an ancient wall built to keep out the vicious god "Kong". Before they could get more information from him, they found he had committed suicide. Despite their attempts to warn of the dangers of Skull Island, Denham remains unimpressed, and the ship presses forward. Denham and Preston share heated words regarding his refusal to tell the film crew about their true destination before Captain Englehorn turns the ship around after receiving word from the bank that Denham's check was not going to be honored. Denham goes to confront the captain, who remains planted in his decision to turn Denham in at port in Rangoon. However, as Hayes tries to navigate, they find their compass is acting up, and when he tries to check the stars, the fog is too thick to see them through. Englehorn orders a lead line to check the depth as he turns the ship around, only to find that they are shallowing. From up in the crow's nest, Jimmy cries out that he sees a giant wall. As the crew tries to maneuver their way out of the rocks appearing on all sides of the ship, it becomes stuck on a hidden reef with a tear in the hull. The crew tried to repair the ship while Denham brought his filming crew to shore. As they sailed, Ann was chilled by the atmosphere presented by the wall and the sunken idols under their whaler boats. However, when they began filming, Baxter once again began improvising, and tried to kiss Ann, to Jack's ire. The two argued for a moment before Denham got angry and told him to leave the set, which made him complain about his shrinking part. However, when Denham asked Ann to scream, something in the jungle screamed back, both of which could be heard from the ship. Denham then found a tunnel to lead the crew up into the village. As they explore the ornate stone tombs, they see a shantytown erected in the alleyways. Growing more uneasy, the crew come across a little girl, whom Denham tries to befriend with a bar of chocolate. The child attacks him, but Denham breaks free before the crew notices the rest of the villagers, all women and children. However, Mike the sound man is struck in the back with a spear, and the male warriors attack from behind. One of the sailors is killed, and Ann's screams bring more calls back from the jungle, and bring the enraged chanting of the local "sha-woman", who accuses Ann of summoning the beasts on the other side of the wall. Luckily, Englehorn and Hayes arrive with machine guns and rescue the party. Back on board, Englehorn orders the crew to toss everything overboard to lighten the ship enough to get it out of the rocks in the narrow window of good weather. When Jack awakes, he begins searching for Ann, only to find a native's necklace and two dead sailors. He went to inform the captain that she had been kidnapped. The crew then begin to get their guns and head for the shore while Ann is prepared for sacrifice. She is passed through the wall and anointed with oil and bone jewelry. The drums stop as Kong appears and grabs her. Denham barely gets a glimpse of the beast before Englehorn gives him 24 hours and 15 men to get her back. Frightened in the nighttime jungle, the sailors pushed through until moans from around them caused them to fire wildly into the bush before Hayes ordered them to stop, revealing the carcass of a dinosaur, just before another wounded one came running at them, just before meeting its end. Despite their fears, they move on as Darrow is taken by Kong to a clearing strewn with the bones of previous sacrifices. He begins to shake her, and she slips free of him before running toward the sound of gunshots in the distance. Jack hears her calling his name, and charges in her direction before being swept up by Kong again. On finding the boneyard, the sailors follow the path of destruction Kong had left, now sure that Darrow was alive. They continue through the jungle until they reach a steep cliff into a narrow valley. There they discover Kong's massive footprint while Denham tries to film a herd of Brontosaurus, just as they begin stampeding to escape a pack of hunting Venatosaurus. Elsewhere, Ann performs her vaudeville routine to try and prevent Kong from killing her, but he becomes confused by his feelings and leaves her behind. Three more men are lost in the stampede, including Denham's cameraman. They escape by scrambling up the cliffside and traveling through crevices in the surface that lead them to a swamp, where Baxter and Lumpy attempted to abandon the search, but were unsuccessful. The men then build rafts to float across the swamp to follow Kong, but were attacked by a Piranhadon, who kills two more sailors before they finally get across. On seeing a plume of smoke, Ann ran toward it, and began to search for Jack, but her search is cut short by an 8-foot-tall predator blocking her path. She tries to escape it, only to run into a Vastatosaurus rex. Kong rescues her, and allows her to travel with him again before hearing gunshots and running to investigate. He sees the sailors crossing a log bridge before attacking them, sending them plummeting to the bottom, killing Hayes, Lumpy, and Choy in the process. Luckily, Englehorn comes to save them, and all of the party except for Jack turn back for the ship as Denham plots to capture Kong alive. Up on the mountain, Kong is frightened by a statue of another giant gorilla, and Ann sees the skeleton of one of his ancestors. This makes her realize that he is more complex than a simple monstrous animal. That night, Jack climbs up the mountain where Kong lives to rescue her. He manages to save her, but not without waking Kong, who tries his best to keep them there, but has to fight a swarm of Terapusmordax to protect Ann, allowing her and Driscoll enough time to escape despite his attempts to stop them. The two then run toward the wall, where Preston lowers the bridge for them just before Kong begins to smash the gate. He breaks through and is assaulted by sailors as they get Ann back to the ship despite her protests. However, as Kong pursues her, they finally fell him, and Denham revels in the promise of riches that the beast would bring them as Kong: The Eighth Wonder of the World.
When Kong appears onstage, he is utterly defeated until the woman playing the part of Ann is offered to him as part of the show. Enraged at this deceit, Kong breaks out of his chains and out of the theater and begins searching for Ann in the city. Jack then takes a taxi and tries to get Kong to chase him to get him away from Times Square, but Ann, who had seen the carnage and guessed what had happened, comes to calm him. Kong then takes her in his hand and climbs the Empire State Building, sustaining fire from the military. Jack then climbs up the stairway to get to her as Kong shows an understanding of beauty while watching the sunrise before trying to protect her from gunfire. At the top of the tower, he smashes three planes before succumbing to his wounds and falling to the street below, where media, police, and onlookers discuss his death, commenting that the airplanes had killed him, but Denham, approaching from the crowd, proclaimed that Beauty had killed the Beast.
Weapons, vehicles, and races
Differences from the film
- The opening musical number "Sittin' on Top of the World" is incorporated into the novel through a line describing a street performer singing the song.
- The novel expands greatly on the characters' backgrounds, and fills in much of the time spent en-route to Skull Island.
- In line with the prequel novel, Denham's cameraman has a prosthetic leg which is not mentioned in the film.
- Lumpy is explained to hold many positions on the Venture beyond just the cook, including being the ship's barber, physician, veterinarian, and dentist.
- The scene where Carl is filming Ann screaming that was used in the first trailer appears in the novel. This scene is excluded from both the theatrical and extended cuts of the film.
- The Ferrucutus is replaced by a herd of Ligocristuses.
- It is clarified that Ann was chosen as a sacrifice due to the natives' belief that her screams of fear were summoning monsters from beyond the wall.
- The bar of Nestlé chocolate that Denham gives to the native girl in the film is a Hershey's bar in the novelization.
- When the cameraman Herb is killed, he does not hand the camera to Denham like he does in the film, as he was already carrying it.
- The log scene takes place after Kong's fight with the V-rexes instead of before.
- Kong's fight with the V-rexes takes place in a single area and does not spill into a vine-covered canyon like in the film.
- Unlike the film, the scene where Bruce Baxter reveals that he is not a hero takes place after the Venatosaurus attack, before an unsuccessful attempt to leave rather than a successful attempt after the rescue from the pit.
- Instead of being eaten alive by Carnictises, Lumpy is eaten alive by Arachno-claws.
- While the scene was altogether cut from the theatrical release, the novelization lacks the Scorpio-pedes that are present in the Piranhadon attack from the extended cut of the film.
- As opposed to being menaced in the jungles by Foetodons and Megapedes, the novelization uses an unnamed eight-foot-tall predator that seems to have more use of its forelimbs, and a large spider.
- Like the comic adaptation of the film, King Kong: The 8th Wonder of the World, the novelization sees Kong kill the first V-rex by driving a tree trunk through its head.
- In this version of the story, Ann is snapped up by the last V-rex, which inspires Kong to force open its jaws to rescue her, which leads to their iconic breakage.
- Jack prevents Jimmy from endangering himself in Hayes' absence in the novel, while they have little interaction in the film.
- Not only is Kong much bloodier from the bullet wounds he sustained in his final battle, but in the novel, Kong breaks off the mooring mast from the top of the building, taking it with him in his fall.
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