Directed by Peter Jackson, starring Naomi Watts, Adrian Brody, Jack Black, Andy Serkis and Jamie Bell.
The word blockbuster is used to describe so many average movie releases these days that we could be forgiven for forgetting what a truly classic Hollywood action movie entails. Peter Jackson's 'King Kong' will remind us all of what we felt the first time we stared, wide-eyed, at films like 'Jaws' and 'Jurassic Park'.
The three hours of jaw-dropping, seat-squirming suspense and action on offer here will be sure to leave everyone feeling rather exhausted by the time the final credits roll.
The plot is true to the original. Dubious director Karl Denham (Black) embarks on a seemingly wild goose chase in search of the mythical 'Skull Island' where he has chosen to film his latest movie, despite the best wishes of his financiers.
He persuades out of work comic actress Anna Darrow (Watts) to travel as his lead and practically kidnaps renowned playwright Jack Driscoll (Brody) to write the story. Driscoll and Darrow fall for each other as they journey further on the unknown oceans towards the island.
Upon reaching the island they have a run-in with a band of natives who kidnap Darrow to use as an offering to the giant ape they call Kong. Kong makes off with the girl and the crew of the ship, led by the now smitten Driscoll, chase after the giant ape to rescue the fair maiden.
However, they have not counted on the various dinosaurs and giant insects that inhabit Skull Island and have much difficulty in making ground on the super simian.
With the niceties of the plot done away with Jackson turns on the style to explain the tragic love story that develops between Darrow and her captor. Darrow provides the lonely creature with laughter and entertainment in a bid to gain his trust and enable her to make her escape.
When Darrow finally flees from Kong's lair she finds herself as the prize in a game of chase between three hungry Tyrannosaurus Rexes. Kong comes to the rescue and Darrow, now obviously suffering from the effects of Stockholm Syndrome, gives her heart to the ape that has plucked her, literally, from the jaws of death.
Driscoll ruins the prospective relationship (God only knows what the children would have looked like) when he finally catches up with the duo following a run-in with the meanest bunch of giant creepy crawlies this side of a B-movie. However, he fails to realise that Denham has been using him as bait to capture the ape and put him on show in New York.
Cue the location switch to the Big Apple with the ensuing escape and chase up the Empire State Building that we have all been waiting over two-and-a-half hours for.
Jackson seems to have a natural ability for making longer than average movies hold your attention more than a 30-minute sitcom would. Either the man has shares in a cushion company or he needs a new watch.
Visually the movie is so perfect that there are times that you wish the characters had no dialogue to trouble them. This is especially true of the chase between the ape and dinosaurs where we have almost 10 minutes where not a single coherent word is uttered by anyone. The special effects and CGI are on a par with those we witnessed in 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy.
The only flaw is the sometimes-terrible dialogue which reaches the point of corniness when the subject of beauty is discussed by Darrow or Denham. Though the extent of this annoyance is probably related to the fact that it happens on the rare occasions when you get a chance to catch your breath.
Black is at home playing the dodgy producer/director while Brody and Watts are also excellent. Of the supporting cast Serkis excels, but the character played by Jamie Bell, star of 'Billy Elliot', seems to have been a pointless addition with little or no impact on proceedings.
With 'King Kong', Peter Jackson has become the most bankable director since Spielberg of the 1980s/90s. The only problem for him now is finding movies as colossal as 'LOTR' and 'King Kong' to cast his brush over (Maybe 'The Ten Commandments' could do with a reworking?).
'King Kong' will appeal to everyone and is the ideal choice for everyone aged over ten to see over Christmas. The child in me couldn't have been any happier sitting (relatively) still for three hours.