Directed by: Peter Jackson
Written by:Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
Starring: Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Andy Serkis, Jamie Bell, Kyle Chandler, Colin Hanks, Thomas Kretschmann, Lobo Chan
Released: December 14, 2005
Grade: A

If you want value for money, King Kong is the true movie experience.  I was initially sceptical as to how this film was going to hold my attention for over three hours?  My doubts have been answered with a phenomenal mix of adventure, suspense, action, comedy, drama and romance.  My only sufferance was a sore butt.

In the misery of the Great Depression, film director Carl Denham (Black) has come into the possession of a map.  It shows the way to Skull Island, a place “that was thought to exist only in myth”.  The self-absorbed Denham sees this map as his ticket to stardom.  If he can find this island, it will be the perfect setting for his latest motion picture.  People will come from everywhere to see it.

Few would be interested in such a risky movie and Denham misleads his cast his crew by telling them it will be filmed in Singapore.  He also forgets to tell them that the studio has withdrawn their funding.  With only Denham and his assistant Preston (Hanks) knowing the true destination, they set sail from New York.

Joining them is a last minute inclusion to the cast, theatre actress Ann Darrow (Watts).  Having just lost her job in a small theatrical company, Darrow had no choice but to accept Denham’s sudden offer.  She isn’t interested in movies but needs the money to survive.

Denham finds Skull Island but it won’t be the setting for his epic motion picture.  Instead, it will be a battleground.  The cast and crew will come face-to-face with tribal warriors, giant insects, vicious dinosaurs and a 25-foot ape.  When Ann is kidnapped by the ape, a rescue team led by writer Jack Driscoll (Brody) set out on a dangerous quest to steal her back.

Peter Jackson has longed to remake this movie since he was a teenager.  The success of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy has created the opportunity and what a fantastic job he has done.  Like Rings, the action sequences of King Kong are gripping and unrelenting.  Just when you think a situation can’t possibly become more perilous, Jackson turns it up a notch.  The level of suspense is amazing and on many occasions, I my fists were tightly clenched.

Jackson’s finest achievement though is the emotion he creates between Kong and Ann Darrow.  When we first meet Kong, he is a horrifying, scary beast.  By the end, we feel sorry for him and understand the loneliness he has endured for so long.  It famously ends atop New York’s Empire State Building and the heartbreaking, final look in Kong’s eyes says it all.  What a brilliant finale.

Australian Naomi Watts (Mulholland Drive) is beautifully delicate in the role of Ann Darrow.  Equally good is Jack Black (School Of Rock) who as Carl Denham, looks eerily similar to the legendary Orson Wells.  Others you may recognise include Adrien Brody (the Oscar winner actor from The Pianist), Colin Hanks (son of Tom and star of Orange County) and Jamie Bell (the gifted ballet dancer we remember from Billy Elliot).

The seamless visual effects also deserve recognition but it’s the captivating story and its heart which make this film one to cherish.