Saturday, April 1, 2017

King Kong (2005)

I think I first heard that this movie was coming in October of 2003, when I saw an episode of a mini-series on Bravo called Creature Features, which talked about various horror and monster movies. During this particular episode, which was titled, The Beasts, one of the many films they covered was the original 1933 King Kong and during the segment on it, there was a scroll along the bottom of the screen that announced that Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, whose name I didn't know at the time, was going to do his own version of the film once he was done with the trilogy (which I knew was going to be soon since The Return of the King was due out that December). I was quite surprised by that announcement, with my initial thought being, "They already did a remake of King Kong in the 70's, and now they're going to do another one?" I'd never heard of a movie being remade twice before, with the only comparable thing being all of the various incarnations of classic horror stories like Dracula and Frankenstein, but when I read about it again a few months later in an issue of Entertainment Weekly that was lying around in my high school's library, I knew for sure that it was a real thing and I started to get excited about the prospect of it for a number of reasons. One, this would be the first King Kong movie released during my lifetime, which already made it special for me. Two, while I was never interested in seeing the Lord of the Rings movies, which, aside from watching The Fellowship of the Ring dubbed in Spanish for my language class, I still haven't (I'm not big into fantasy movies like that), and I knew nothing about Jackson other than those movies, his enthusiasm and love for the original assured me that it was in safe hands. And third, I was really eager to see what they would do with it through the use of cutting-edge digital technology and computer graphics, which I had been wowed by in recent movies like Hulk (and yes, I still enjoy that movie). My mom was also excited when I told her about it, as she loves King Kong as well, and we both eagerly awaited its release in the next couple of years. I don't usually keep up with movie news except in a passing manner but this was a film whose stories I kept up with, from the casting of the main actors (I was quite surprised when I heard that Jack Black was going to be playing Carl Denham) to the big wrap party that Jackson threw for it, which I heard was basically a carnival, with a Ferris wheel and everything, and the replacement of composer Howard Shore with James Newton Howard just a couple of months before the film's release, and so on. When I went to Orlando in the spring of 2005 with my mother and grandmother, we got our first image for the film when we grabbed a little newsletter that talked about anticipated, upcoming movies and while it was just a drawing, the image of Kong fighting the three T-Rexes did its job in further whetting our appetites. They were whetted even more so when NBC aired the trailer on June 27th and we got our first look at the CGI Kong at the end of it, which we didn't think we would, given how trailers tend to go, making it even more of a pleasant surprise. We were more pumped than ever and weren't the only ones, as it seemed like Kong-Mania was building up across the country as it got closer and closer to the release date, with awesome TV spots, primetime news specials, and the release of the two-disc special edition DVD of the original, as well as video game tie-in, both of which I got for Christmas.

I finally saw it the week after it opened, with both my mom and a cousin of mine, and it couldn't have been better timing, as I had just gotten out for Christmas break during my first year of college (after having done really well on my tests, I might add). So, I was ready to start it off with a bang with this movie that I knew would be awesome... and I was absolutely right. This movie was everything I wanted it to be and more and, to this day, watching it in that theater in Tullahoma that cold but sunny afternoon just a few days before Christmas is one of the greatest memories of going that I have. When I go to the theater, I do typically get up to use the bathroom at least once and, knowing that this was going to be a three-hour sit, I was expecting to have to take three or more pit-stops but, amazingly, I didn't have to use the bathroom once. Not once. My mom went one time and my cousin went three times but I was so captivated by this incredible movie that I just sat there for the entire running time and never took my eyes off the screen. It was nothing less than a love affair between myself and this movie, to the point where I was happy that, while it started out slow, it eventually did become a big hit, especially in DVD sales, and even more so when it won three of the four Academy Awards that it was nominated for. Speaking of the DVD, I bought it the week it came out, which I rarely ever do, and was so happy to relive it again that I watched it that very night, which I also don't usually do. Yeah, I loved this movie to death and still do to this day. It's one that, if I were to make a list of my 100 favorite movies period, would most certainly be on there, along with the original. All of that gushing aside, though, it's not completely perfect. Over the years, as I've come down from all the euphoria and hype, I've been able to see some of the seams and, while they don't ruin the movie at all, I can't deny that they are there. But, as we'll see when we get into the meat of it, they're very, very minor flaws in what is otherwise an epic, larger-than-life, thrilling escapist fantasy and, like the original, is the kind of stuff I think movies are all about.

He's holding the last surviving stop-motion
armature created for the original King Kong.
I may not have known him for anything other than the Lord of the Rings movies at the time but, during the lead-up to King Kong's release and the years since, I've come to regard Peter Jackson as one of the most inspirational filmmakers of his or, for that matter, any generation. When I was looking through this book I bought in early 2002 called The Horror Movie Survival Guide, one of the many movies that it mentioned was Bad Taste and when I looked it up on IMDB out of curiosity, I was quite surprised to see that Jackson was the director. At first, I thought maybe it was just another director with that name but, when I looked up the filmography, I learned that it was indeed the same man and I then learned of his other early films like Meet the Feebles and the ultimate splatterfest that is Dead Alive. When I saw where he started and tracked his career to where it was then, directing gigantic, mega-hits like the Lord of the Rings trilogy and winning Oscars for it, I thought, "Wow, talk about a success story!" For me, he is proof positive that, through a lot of hard work and determination, you can make your dreams come true. (He is similar to Sam Raimi in that regard but, even though the only other films of his that I've seen are Dead Alive and The Frighteners, I can safely say that I'm a much bigger fan of him.) I also like that he seems like somebody who has never compromised who he is, in that he still lives in New Zealand and films most of his movies there, and continues to do it simply because he loves making movies rather than for money (not that he'd need it, by this point). One thing that really surprised when it got close to the release of King Kong was how drastically his appearance had changed. When I was in Pigeon Forge around Thanksgiving that year, I picked up a magazine with him and Naomi Watts on the cover and my jaw dropped when I saw how thin he'd become. He said that he simply cut back on what and how much he ate, and said it was also due to how stressful editing the film was, and it was just... wow. It didn't even look like the same person!

If you're at all into Jackson, one thing you learn very early on is that the original King Kong is his favorite movie and was what inspired him to become a filmmaker when he saw it on TV when he was nine. More significantly, he is obsessed with it and has collected an insane amount of research material, photos, and even props from the film, such as some of the original stop-motion models. When he was twelve, he tried to do his own Super 8 remake and got as far as building a little Kong model and the top of the Empire State Building before realizing it was never going to be the way he imagined and gave up on it. I think it was when I got Ray Morton's book, King Kong: The History of a Movie Icon, that Jackson had also remade the film in the mid-90's when Universal approached him with the idea while he was making The Frighteners. He said that he initially turned it down but then realized the potential of using modern computer technology in telling the story of King Kong, as well as contemplated what would happen if someone else took the job and made a really bad movie out of it, and agreed to do it. They got pretty far along in pre-production, writing two drafts of the script (which then had a jokey, tongue-in-cheek tone similar to Stephen Sommers' The Mummy), doing concept drawings, and designing armatures and maquettes of the creatures, when Universal pulled the plug due to competition from the TriStar Godzilla film and Disney's remake of Mighty Joe Young, both of which were released in 1998, the same year King Kong would've come out. Fortunately for him, Jackson was able to secure the rights to The Lord of the Rings and had something to fall back on but it was very disappointing for him and he said, all throughout production of those films, he would come in and see the drawings and model that were done for King Kong, reminding him of the movie that never was. So, imagine his elation when, during post-production of The Return of the King, Universal approached him about restarting development. In hindsight, it was probably good fortune that the movie was initially cancelled because, while I'm sure it would've made for an entertaining flick, the 1996 script probably wouldn't have had the same sense of wonder and heart that the final film does. Also, by this point, I think Jackson had grown and matured enough as a filmmaker to give it that feeling.


Naomi Watts' rendition of Ann Darrow in this film is, by far, my favorite female lead in any movie featuring King Kong. Watts manages to make her both as innocent and likable as Fay Wray was in the original and as compassionate towards Kong as Dwan was in the 1976 version while, at the same time, getting around those characters' individual sets of faults. Unlike Wray, Watts' Ann is a much more complex, strong-willed, and self-reliant person. She's a Vaudeville actor whose specialty is making people laugh but she's fallen on very hard times, as the theater she's been working at has closed down, leaving her unemployed and penniless. As her mentor and close friend, Manny, mentions, this is the latest in a long line of struggles she's had to endure since her childhood and it doesn't get any better when she attempts to audition for a play written by Jack Driscoll, who she's a great admirer of, only to be told Weston, the theatrical agent, that every role has been cast. Despite needing money badly, Ann keeps her dignity and decides not to try out for a burlesque show that Weston suggests. although it forces her to try to steal an apple from a street vendor, an act she later tells Carl Denham she regrets doing. In fact, she's so committed to her self-respect and sense of pride, that she initially refuses Denham's offer to be in the film, telling him after he says that she's going to make the audience cry their eyes out, "See, that's where you're wrong, Mr. Denham. I make people laugh, that's what I do." However, when she hears that Driscoll is the one who's writing the movie's script, she decides to take it and embark on the voyage, despite her initial reservations when Captain Englehorn hints that it may be more dangerous than Denham originally let on. The part of the film where this Ann feels like Dwan to me is when she's practicing for when she meets Driscoll and mistakes Mike, the soundman, for him, unintentionally making a bad first impression when she tells him that he looks much better than his "photograph" and isn't how she imagined he'd be, not realizing that the real Driscoll is right across from her. That, along with the way she introduces herself to the crew beforehand, is the most airheaded she comes across, although it's not taken to the extreme that Jessica Lange did in Kong '76. The innocence of Wray's Ann can also be seen with how nervous and self-conscious she gets around Jack for a couple of scenes afterward, although it's done in a more naturalistic way and doesn't stick around for long when the two of them become lovers. And speaking of Wray, another marked improvement that Watts has over her is that, when they reach Skull Island, she doesn't spend the majority of the rest of the film screaming her head off, save when something frightening happens or when she's in danger.


That leads us into her relationship with King Kong which, as much as Peter Jackson dislikes the 1976 film, is one of the aspects of that movie that seems to have influenced this one. Like Dwan in that film, Ann is understandably terrified when she first meets Kong and he grabs her and runs off into the jungle with her, especially when she sees the remains of his past sacrifices. She tries to slip away from him when he sets her down afterward but when he corners her and tries to stop her from escaping, instead of panicking and screaming, she uses her head and decides to make use of her penchant for comedy to entertain him... which works! But then, he forces her into slapstick when he starts pushing her down and picking her up to do it again, which makes he reach her limit and she then has the guts to tell him, "No!" Kong, obviously not being used to someone or something standing up to him, becomes enraged and tries to scare her into complying but when she stands her ground, all he can do is throw a tantrum, which doesn't accomplish anything except embarrass him more. Having never experienced anything like this, Kong becomes sheepish and wanders off, leaving Ann to fend for herself. She tries to meet up with the search party by following the sounds of their gunfire but ends up getting into predicament after another with the island's other creatures and her screams attract Kong, who goes through hell to save her from three V-Rexes (that is what these dinosaurs are officially called). It's after this that Ann realizes that he's not going to hurt her but rather is going to act as her guardian, and when he takes her back to his lair and she sees the skeletons of his family, that appears to be when she becomes sympathetic towards her, realizing that he's completely alone. She tries to amuse him again but when that doesn't work, all she can do is be there for him as company, telling him that the sunset in the distance is beautiful, which he later shows that he understood. They become close enough to where she's torn about what to do when Jack shows up to "save" her and Kong chases them all across the island, to the Great Wall, to get her back. She's absolutely horrified when she and Jack make it through the wall and she sees that she's inadvertently lured Kong into a trap. Fighting against Jack and everyone else, she tries to save him and prays that he goes back when he follows them to the shore but, in the end, he's knocked out with chloroform and all she can do is tearfully watch, no doubt feeling horribly guilty over it.


Kong's capture drives a wedge between Ann and both Denham, who refuses to be a part of the show and exhibition that he builds around him, despite being offered a lot of money, and Jack, whom she's angry at for his part in preventing her from helping Kong and has refused to star in the play he wrote for her. Continuing with her overruling notion of self-dignity, she's instead decided to appear as a chorus girl in another production, a decision that she's obviously not happy with when you later see her. When the city is in a panic when she leaves the theater later on, she knows what must have happened and she reaches and calms Kong after he's chased Jack throughout much of the city and caused a lot of damage in the process. The two of them have a nice, poignant reconnection and are able to share a peaceful moment on the frozen lake in Central Park, only for it to be broken when the military attacks. Kong, trying to protect Ann more than anything else, evades them and climbs up the Empire State Building and the two of them are able to share one last moment when Kong gestures about the beautiful sunrises the same way she did about the sunset back on Skull Island. The airplanes then attack and Kong tries to fight them off while Ann does what she can to help, at one point trying to wave them off and make them stop the attack, but he's mortally wounded and she tearfully watches as he slowly dies in front of her and slips off the building. Devastated, she's then reunited with Jack when he climbs up to the top of the building and the two of them embrace, him comforts her over the latest tragedy that she's suffered, although things will hopefully start to turn around for both of them.

Like a lot of people, I wasn't sure about Jack Black being cast as Carl Denham but when I saw the movie, I felt that he did a good job, although his take on the character is markedly different from Robert Armstrong's portrayal. One thing they do have in common, though, is that, as in the original, Denham appears to be in the moviemaking business for the love and thrill of it. Granted, his reason for wanting to find and film on Skull Island could be partially due to the money it'll make from people being enchanted by the notion, and he does tell Jack Driscoll that he's better off writing screenplays because there's no money in theater, but the way he seems uninterested in the two stars he has for his movie during the meeting with the studio executives and is more interested in the allure of finding the island tells me otherwise. Another thing he has in common with Armstrong's Denham is that nothing is going to stop him from making his movie, although he takes this to more of an extreme when he runs off to the ship without the studio's approval and even gets Captain Englehorn to shove off right after the cops show up to arrest him, whereas the original Denham was eager to get going simply to avoid before the law learns how much ammunition he had stockpiled aboard the ship. Where he differs from the original is that he's much more deceitful and manipulative, willing to lie to Ann about them filming in Singapore and using her admiration for Driscoll's writing to get to do the more, stalling Driscoll so he doesn't make it off the ship in time and is forced to stay aboard and finish writing the script, and not being honest with Englehorn and the crew about exactly where they're going. Another difference, and one that makes him akin to King Kong '76's Fred Wilson, is that he hasn't been very successful in his career and this venture is his last chance, which is possibly the bigger motivation for his wanting to make this special, unique movie than just the love of it. Like Wilson, he tells Englehorn at one point that he's risked everything he has on this film and when he's told that they've been ordered to divert to Rangoon due to a warrant out for his arrest, he realizes that it's all over. Fortunately for him, they come across Skull Island right then and, while everyone else is worried about getting the ship off of the rocks it's jammed on, Denham is preoccupied with going ashore and making his movie, even later on when Ann's been taken and he's gotten a sobering look at Kong. In fact, it seems to spur him on even more, as he and his cameraman, Herb, take their equipment with them to film any other incredible creatures they find within the island's interior. That's another parallel between him and the original Denham: he's absolutely fearless and willing to do anything for his movie, like getting close to a bunch of Brontosaurs to film them or approaching a creepy-looking, native kid in the village. And, while he does try to save Herb and is horrified when he's eaten alive, he gets over uncomfortably quickly and says that they'll finish the movie for him and donate the proceeds to his wife and kids... the exact same thing he said after Mike, the soundman, was killed by the natives, which says a lot about the really bad parts of his character.


When Denham's camera and film are destroyed after he and everyone are knocked off into the ravine by Kong, it prompts another similarity between him and Fred Wilson. With his original goal now shattered, the only way Denham can recoup his losses is by trapping Kong and bringing him back to New York. He comes up with this plan when he sees that Jack is going after Ann, knowing that Kong will chase after them when he gets her, and coerces Englehorn into helping him by appealing to his ego about being the best at live animal capture. He also lies to Jack about keeping the gate open, instead keeping it shut and refusing to lower the bridge for them when the time comes until Kong is close enough to where he'll see them run through the gate and attempt to break it down. Denham is undeterred even when their initial attempt to knock Kong out with the chloroform fails, to the point where he's willing to grab a bottle himself and throw it right into the ape's face, knocking him out. When they've brought him back to New York, Denham's success appears assured, although his relationships with everyone else, from Ann to Jack and even Preston, his personal assistant, have been destroyed, as they're all disgusted by how far he went and the farcical show he's built around Kong. As they watch Denham lie to the audience about the truth of what happened, crediting Bruce Baxter as the man who saved Ann from Kong and putting on the show, with him at the center of it, in front of the ape, Preston laments about how Denham once talked about there being some mystery left in the world, which everyone can have a part of for the price of an admission ticket, and Jack says, "That's the thing you come to learn about Carl: his undying ability to destroy the things he loves." Said ability soon proves disastrous when Kong breaks free, goes on a destructive and deadly rampage, and is ultimately shot down off the Empire State Building. As in the original, the film's last line is Denham lamenting, "It wasn't the airplanes. It was beauty killed the beast," and when you look at the expression on his face and the way he sees it, it's clear he finally understands what he's done, that he's destroyed numerous lives through his ambition to get ahead. And as walks back into the crowd afterward, we can only assume that, like the original Denham in The Son of Kong, he'll end up paying for it all dearly.

Opinion is really divided on Adrien Brody's Jack Driscoll, with most saying that he's not that interesting or engaging and was miscast in the role. While he is my least favorite of the film's three human leads, I don't think he's as bad as others think he is. He's certainly different and more complex, especially in his relationship with Ann, than Bruce Cabot's Driscoll. Rather being the Venture's first mate, he's instead a playwright who cares much more about the theater than movies and is tricked into taking part in the journey to Skull Island and finishing the movie's script by Denham. You have to feel even worse for him when he has no choice but to sleep in one of the animal cages in the ship's hold and is forced to eat Lumpy's nauseating cooking. His relationship with Ann gets off to a bumpy start, as she unintentionally insults him when she makes Mike, the soundman, for him, and he later sarcastically makes mention of it when he and Denham are writing the script. He's also not too crazy about the vain and egotistical Bruce Baxter, who disregards the dialogue he wrote and makes up his own, and he doesn't appear to have much high regard for actors in general, commenting, "Actors. They travel the world, all they ever see is a mirror." His and Ann's romance is one of the film's weak spots in my opinion, as it feels more abrupt than it did in the original. There, we got the sense that they got to know each other over the course of the trip and his protectiveness towards her when they reached the island made him realize his feelings for her; here, even though we, ironically, see much more of the voyage, Jack seems to go from not thinking much of her to reassuring her that she doesn't need to be nervous and looking at her lovingly while she's being filmed in what feels like one transition. The scene where he tells her that he wrote a play for her and when she asks why, he says, "Isn't it obvious?... It's in the subtext," feels very forced, not to mention corny. But, hey, it gets them together and makes him very protective over, to where he fights off the savage natives, informs Englehorn that the natives snuck aboard and took her, and heads off into the island's interior to find her, pushing the men really hard about it at one point. One of his best moments is when Baxter decides to forget about Ann and go back to the wall so Englehorn won't leave without him, saying, "I always knew you were nothing like the tough guy you play on the screen. I just never figured you for a coward." He and the others press on, and grows to be a protector and friend to Jimmy, whom he comforts when he's distraught after Hayes, who he was very close to, is killed by Kong. Jack is so determined to save Ann that, even after they're attacked and almost killed by a bunch of disgusting, oversized insects at the bottom of the ravine, he goes on, knowing that Ann's alive, and manages to get her away from Kong, although he definitely didn't expect them to have to formed a bond. While he's not happy when he learns of Denham's plan to trap Kong when he and Ann make it through the wall, he tries to protect her by dragging her away and keeping her from helping the ape, contributing to his capture.

It also led to their relationship falling apart, as they've gone their separate ways by the time the film switches back to New York and Jack is watching the play he wrote for Ann being performed without her. As he does, the dialogue the actors are speaking make him realize that he was stupid for not trying to salvage their relationship, especially since she means so much to him, and he decides to go to Denham's presentation of Kong at Broadway, thinking she'd be there. While there, he and Preston, who are both disgusted by the show built to exploit the magnificent ape, lament about how Denham always unintentionally destroys the things that he loves, and when he sees that Ann isn't there and realizes that Kong is getting out of control, he tries to save everyone's life by telling them to leave but is unable to get anyone to listen before it's too late. He becomes a target for Kong once he breaks loose due to his remembering that he took Ann away from him and uses it to draw him away crowded streets, resulting in a wild chase throughout the city that nearly leads to him getting killed. Fortunately for him, Ann shows up and is able to calm Kong and stop him from killing him. During the climax atop the Empire State Building, Jack pushes his way into the lobby and takes the elevator up to the roof, although by the time he gets there, Kong has died and slipped off, leaving Ann devastated and alone. When he meets up with her on top of the tower, the bridge between them are repaired as he can see how devastated she is and sees through his face that he understands and they embrace. Like I said earlier, there seems to be a light of hope here that things will start looking up for them.

A character who's completely different from his 1933 counterpart is Captain Englehorn (Thomas Kretschmann). While Frank Reicher portrayed him as a respectable captain who went along with Denham's plan and grew to become something of a friend to him in the sequel, here Englehorn is a little more shady and mysterious. He comes across as rather sinister when he asks Ann Darrow if she's ready for the voyage ahead, saying that most people wouldn't take such a risk and giving her the first clue that they're not going to Singapore like Denham said. He's also got a lot of questionable equipment, like big bottles of chloroform and numerous guns, both single-shot and automatics, stockpiled and hidden away on his ship. Since he specializes in capturing big, dangerous animals, you could say that's what it's all for but some of it seems a little excessive for that purpose. Speaking of which, one of his best lines is when Jack is forced to stay in one of the animal cages they've got down in the hold and, when he's trying to choose a cage, he asks him, "What are you, Mr. Driscoll: a lion, or a chimpanzee?" One thing that's certain about Englehorn is that he doesn't like Denham at all, mainly because of how untrustworthy he is, as he forces them to shove off without a manifest or payment, has them go out into the middle of the ocean, into waters that he's unfamiliar with, and is continuously vague about what they're looking for, and is informed very late in the voyage that there's a warrant out for Denham's arrest and he's been ordered to divert to Rangoon. This proves to be the last straw for him, as he tells Denham when he says he's risked everything he has on the movie, "You've risked everything I have," and tells him, "I want you off my ship." He's so fed up with Denham, in fact, that he's willing to leave him and the others with him behind when they row ashore to Skull Island, focusing instead on getting the ship loose from the rocks it's stuck on. While he does lead a party that saves them from the natives and loads everyone up with his stockpile of weapons when they go back to rescue Ann, he gives them only 24 hours to search the island and find her. He's given up on Ann by the time he rescues Denham, Jack, and Jimmy from the insect pit, telling Jack that she's dead when he sees him climbing up on the other side of the chasm to continue the search, which is when Denham comes up with the idea to trap Kong. Englehorn is initially unwilling to go along with this plan but Denham coerces him into it by playing to his ego about being the best at live animal capture. Despite that, though, when things go awry when Kong easily breaks loose of the net they attempt to trap him with, Englehorn is willing to abandon the plan, telling Denham, "It's over, you goddamn lunatic!", and attempts to kill Kong when he chases them down to the shore, which is when Denham knocks him out with a chloroform bottle to the face.


Overall, the crew of the Venture in this film is much more memorable than both the original and the crew of Petrox Explorer in Kong '76. Chief among them are Hayes (Evan Parke), the first mate, and Jimmy (Jamie Bell), the youngest member of the crew. Hayes is a very strict, serious guy (you never see him smile once in the entire movie) who's loyal to Englehorn, to a point, and, significantly, he and Lumpy, the cook, know of Skull Island, as they were aboard a Norwegian ship when they picked up a castaway from the island. His biggest role, though, is as a father figure and mentor towards Jimmy, who he first found in the Venture's hold as a wild, abandoned child and has to reprimand him for his constant stealing. He implores Jimmy to get himself an education and find a better job than the one he now has, but Jimmy is content with the one has, mainly because he likes being around Hayes. Over the course of the story, Jimmy slowly but surely matures when he comes to understand the dark subtext of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, which he's been reading and originally thought it was just an adventure story, and when Ann is kidnapped by the natives, he tries to prove himself to Hayes by sneaking along with the rescue party he leads, ignoring his telling him to stay behind, and persuades Hayes into giving him a gun, against his better judgement. Jimmy is dealt a major blow when Kong kills Hayes right in front of him and is later comforted by Jack about it at the bottom of the pit before the insects attack. There, Jimmy proves to be quite proficient with a gun, shooting off the giant weta that cover Jack without hurting him, and later shows a vindictiveness towards Kong when he's more than willing to shoot him after he breaks free of the net. He's ultimately knocked out of the rowboat by Kong and sent flying against a boulder, although I think he's just unconscious rather than dead (I've read that he can be seen during Kong's Broadway exhibition but I've never noticed him).


Andy Serkis, who did the motion-capture for Kong, also plays Lumpy, the Venture's cook, and while he doesn't have much screentime or dialogue, he leaves an impression and I think he's rather cool. He's like a British Popeye, with his always closed right eye, and I like his voice, his cooking rather disgusting food like sheep's brains with walnut sauce, and his penchant for calling Jack, "Shakespeare." He also has a line that cracked everyone up in the theater: when the search party comes across Kong's big footprint in the mud, Lumpy says, "There's only one creature capable of making a footprint that size... the Abominable Snowman." (I'll ignore the fact that popular interest in the Abominable Snowman didn't reach its peak until the 50's because it is a funny line.) Speaking of which, he's the one who warns Denham of the possible danger of Skull Island and of Kong, both of which he learned about from the castaway he and Hayes met on the Norwegian ship before he ultimately committed suicide. Above everything else, Lumpy is a pretty brave guy and doesn't back down from going ashore to save Ann, although he wastes some of his ammo shooting at the oversized mosquitoes on the island and dies the most disturbing death in the movie when he's devoured by the pit slugs. The last crew member worth mentioning is Choy (Lobo Chan), who mainly serves as this film's version of Charlie the cook from the original, right down to his being a rather un-PC depiction of Asians, which didn't sit well with some critics (I think Jackson only did it because that's how it was in the original movie, which he adores). He's less memorable to me than Charlie, though, and he's most significant in that he's good friends with Lumpy and his death when he's shaken off the log to his death causes Lumpy to lose it and attack the insects that try to devour his corpse, which leads to him getting killed.

Bruce Baxter (Kyle Chandler) is your typical vain, egotistical actor who may play a tough guy onscreen but, in reality, is a complete coward who's only interested in saving his own hide when things get dangerous. He's so full of himself that he covers the wall of his cabin on the Venture with his own movie posters, spending most of the time admiring himself, and changes the dialogue that Jack Driscoll wrote for his character to suit his own opinions on certain things (like how a man should treat a woman he's interested in). This "beefing up the banter" on his part doesn't sit well with Jack and the animosity between them comes to a head when, after the Brontosaur stampede, Baxter decides to head back and leave Ann for dead, crassly saying, "Ms. Darrow was a nice lady, and we're all gonna miss her." When Jack calls him out on his cowardice, Baxter says, "Hey, pal. Hey, wake up. Heroes don't look like me, not in the real world. In the real world, they got bad teeth, a bald spot, and a beer gut. I'm just an actor with a gun, who's lost his motivation." While he does bring back a rescue party that saves Jack, Denham, and Jimmy from the insect pit just in time, and acts like an action hero when he swings on a vine while shooting at the bugs, he does nothing else redeemable and spends the rest of the film selfishly saving his own hide, putting more people in danger during the Brontosaur stampede when he shoots one in the legs, causing a pile-up, and shamelessly taking credit for saving Ann from Kong and performs in the show built around him. But, of course, when Kong starts to break loose, Baxter runs for it and is never seen again.



Like the Venture's crew, Denham has a few memorable people working for him on the movie, most notably his personal assistant, Preston (Colin Hanks). He's a pretty neurotic person at first and often questions Denham's rash actions but goes along with them and does everything he can to provide his boss with what he needs to make his movie, as well as plenty of booze, which Denham tends to guzzle down. However, his relationship with Denham begins to unravel when he displays a very dismissive attitude towards the two other crew members getting killed, giving the same, phony speech about finishing the movie for them and donating the proceeds to their wives and kids. It comes to a head when Denham refuses to lower the bridge for Jack and Ann until Kong is almost on top of them and Preston is the who ends up dropping it for them, receiving a nasty cut on the side of his face in the process (I used to think Denham punched him in anger over it and we never saw it). And as I said earlier, by the time they get back to New York, even though he's attending the show, Preston has lost all respect for Denham, as he and Jack watch the exploitive way he presents Kong to the audience before it goes south. As for the two other members of Denham's crew, his cameraman, Herb (John Sumner), is by far the most loyal, never questioning him and going along with whatever decisions he makes. Unfortunately, he ends up getting killed by the Venatosaurs following the Brontosaurus stampede, sacrificing himself to save Denham's camera, despite the director's attempt to save him as well. In spite of getting over it quickly, Denham is visibly shaken by seeing Herb get mauled to death. And finally, the poor soundman, Mike (Craig Hall), has the distinction of being the first one to get killed, as he's speared by the natives early on. He's also the one who Ann initially mistakes for Jack, being quite flattered when she compliments his work and how he's, "Captured the voice of the common people," only to be put back in his place and shrink down when he learns who she thinks he is.


There are a number of notable cameos in the film, chief among them being the pilots of the fighter planes during the climax. Taking a cue from Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, Peter Jackson is one of the gunners, while the pilot for his plane is none other than makeup effects legend Rick Baker, and the other pilots are played by people who include director Frank Darabont, stop-motion animator Randal William Cook, and Rick Porras, the co-producer of the Lord of the Rings movies. Bob Burns, the legendary movie prop collector and former owner of the King Kong armature from the original film (Jackson himself owns it now), appears, along with his wife, as a shocked New Yorker when Kong bursts out of the Broadway theater, and Howard Shore, the composer for the Lord of the Rings films, is the conductor at said theater, akin to Bernard Herrmann's cameo in the 1956 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much. Jackson wanted Fay Wray to appear at the end and give the line, "It was Beauty killed the Beast," an offer that she initially turned down before apparently changing her mind, but she, sadly, died in August of 2004 at the age of 96. Jackson was devastated by this, as you can tell at one point during the making of documentary on the three-disc edition DVD when he's driving to the set on the day of her death and looks and sounds like he'd either been crying or is about to start crying. If nothing else, at least he got to meet her, which is more than a lot of us, including myself, can ever say.




Jackson's identical cameo to the directors of the original film is one of many ties and references that the movie has to it. You have many lines taken from it, either wholesale, such as, "I am on the level. No funny business," or modified, like Lumpy's description of what the castaway told him and Hayes of Skull Island and Kong, which is similar to Carl Denham's description in the original, the "We're millionaires, boys" speech, and the final "It was Beauty killed the Beast" line; images and shots recreated from it, like Kong's killing the last V-Rex by breaking his jaws, right down to playing with them afterward, the marquee for his Broadway exhibition, his reacting to his bleeding chest wound by touching it and looking at the blood during the climax, and even the same background for the opening and closing credits; and themes from Max Steiner's original score orchestrated for the Broadway show, as well as in other places. One of the most clever references to the original is one that only film buffs would get: early on, when Denham and Preston are trying to come up with a replacement for his movie's female lead, who pulled out at the last minute, you have this exchange: "Fay's a size four." "Yes, she is, but she's doing a picture with RKO." "Cooper, huh? I might've known." And if you listen to the music when Jack Black delivers that latter line, you'll hear a piece from Steiner's score in the far background. I thought that was just brilliant. So, with all of these references, as well as the fact that we're talking about a remake that's a much more faithful retelling of the original story than anything before it, it's undeniable that this movie owes a lot to the 1933 classic. But, is that a bad thing in some regard? I've heard some people, even those who like the movie, suggest that the movie is so intent on emulating on the original that it doesn't become its own film, which is something you can definitely say about King Kong '76. On the one hand, I do agree that, when I watch this movie, it does feel like little more than a major expansion on the original's story, with it being set in the 30's and recreating a number of scenes and moments, but, that said, I'm able to overlook it because of the new stuff it does bring to the table, especially during the section on Skull Island, and the sincere heart and affection for the material that it has. It has to be really tricky to do a remake, because you want to show respect for the original film while doing your own thing but you also don't want to make it so different that you might as well have done something else entirely. I think this one, while inching a little bit too close to the source at points, does manage to strike a nice balance.





In addition to the references and recreations, one way the film brings up the original is how it comments on how unavoidably dated some of the dialogue and scenes from it were. When Denham is filming a scene between Ann Darrow and Bruce Baxter on the deck of the Venture for his movie, the dialogue between them is taken word-for-word, save for when they drop in a line from later on, from an exchange between Fay Wray and Bruce Cabot, where it was the actual dialogue. In addition, you have the notion that Baxter changed what Jack Driscoll had originally written to suit his own he-man beliefs that, as Ann later tells Jack, when a man is in love with a woman, he should ignore her. It's interesting how Peter Jackson uses material from the original to remark on how old-hat and dated it is at points and how it was made in a completely different time and world. Plus, the Broadway show that's built around Kong's exhibition is based on the ceremony from the original movie, with the same altar and costumes for the natives, which are nothing like when this scene happened in reality, as if they're saying this is how filmmakers back then would've portrayed and how they did in the original film. It's an interesting, sort of meta aesthetic but, the thing, it's kind of hampered by how the movie itself has its fair share of corny lines and moments. Some of the dialogue is written in that over-explained manner where they spell out the themes and meanings behind everything in the words, like when Ann's friend and mentor, Manny (William Johnson), tells her, "Oh, I know what you're thinking. Whenever you reach out for something you care about, fate steps in and takes it away," the exchange between her and Jack when he says that the reason why he would write a comedic play for her is in the subtext, leading to them inexplicably kissing, and Hayes explaining the meaning behind Marlowe's actions in Heart of Darkness to Jimmy, leading into him reciting passages from the book over a montage of Denham, Jack, Ann, and others rowing ashore to Skull Island. I liken it to how Christopher Nolan's films are often written (incidentally, I think Nolan is awesome; please, don't flame me for what I just said). Plus, there are overdramatic, slow-motion sections, like when Jack is typing the name "Skull Island" into the script and his voice echoes as he spells it out, all while Jimmy overhears it, and during the scene where they're looking around the village and are then attacked by the natives. Sometimes, it adds weight to what's going on, but other times, like in the former, it's unintentionally silly. And finally, it's odd how Jackson plays up the Asian stereotype of Charlie from the original with the character of Choy while he's commenting on the datedness of some of its other aspects. In the end, it was an interesting choice, but it's hurt by how the film, ironically, has shades of modern movie corniness.



Going back to how I earlier described the movie as an expansion on the original, I'll now address how some people feel it's a little too expanded: namely, they feel the movie is too long. It didn't feel that way when I first saw it in the theater because I was so caught up in it but, since I've seen it on DVD many times since, I do feel that there are some things that could've been cut. I don't mean cut any of the stuff on Skull Island, the last act in New York, or even at the very beginning when they're establishing the period, because I think that's all great, but rather trim some of the fat during the voyage to the island. I understand that Jackson wanted to establish all of the characters and their backstories before they got to the island and started getting killed but there are moments that, ultimately, aren't important in the long run. For instance, you have the moment where Jimmy draws moustaches on all of the movie posters Bruce Baxter has in his cabin and while he's initially horrified by this, he decides to see if he looks good with a moustache by using a comb while looking at himself in a mirror. It's a cute moment but it feels like a scene that belongs in the deleted scene section. Some parts of the montage of them traveling to the island and Ann becoming friendly with the crew while Jack becomes inspired and writes for her, could've been trimmed as well, like the shots of her dancing on the deck with Jimmy. And speaking of Jimmy, I don't the Heart of Darkness aspect was needed. I think it would've been fine to keep the part where he first shows Hayes the book to show that he is trying to get educated and is na├»ve to think it's a simple adventure story, but the moment where it comes back around when they reach the island and he understands the darker meaning behind it could've been cut. Not only do I think Hayes' explanation and recitation are really corny and overdone and whatever tie it has to the story is lost on me but, while I understand it meant a little bit of a coming of age for Jimmy, it still could've been deleted, as I think Hayes' death is a suitable enough harsh lesson in life for him. (Plus, I hate that book, because I had to read it in high school and I didn't understand half of what Conrad was talking about.) As it is, the movie is three hours and eight minutes long, so these deletions wouldn't have made it much shorter but it would've at least allowed us to get the island quicker, which is where the movie really picks up.


One last bit of criticism I'll level at the movie is that, while Jackson spent too much time on certain aspects of the movie, there are others that I feel like he either rushed through or didn't expand upon enough. It's like he realized how long the movie was getting and decided that he needed let some other things slide. For instance, the natives' interest in sacrificing Ann to Kong, to the extent where they would sneak aboard the Venture to kidnap her, comes up randomly when he roars upon hearing her scream and it doesn't feel as cool as it was before when they were already planning the ceremony and figured she'd be better than the native girl they'd already picked for it. I would've also liked to see Kong destroying more stuff when he breaks through the wall, trying to reclaim Ann (in fact, I would've liked his struggle to get through it to have had more impact), and when he rampages through New York, which is instead centered around his chasing Jack in the taxi and is a great sequence, to be sure, but, like Godzilla, I love seeing Kong smash architecture. Finally, there's nothing special about him reaching and climbing the Empire State Building. In the original, you had that great, distant wide-shot of him scaling up the side of it, and when he climbed the World Trade Center in 1976, they gave you everything from why he went towards it in the first place to his reaching the plaza and his entire climb; here, he's just running to escape the military and simply happens across the Empire State Building, which he gets to the top of pretty quickly. The building is still shown to be magnificent and the climax atop it is excellent but the climbing could've had more majesty to it.



Okay, enough criticizing; it's time to start praising this film again, because it gets a lot of things right. Deciding to set the film in the 1930's was going to make for quite a challenge in recreating the period, especially the sections in New York, but boy, if Peter Jackson and his crew didn't rise to the challenge! When I watch this movie, I absolutely believe that I'm in the early 30's during the Great Depression: the clothes, the vehicles, the weapons, the film equipment, and especially the recreation of New York in the period, which was done through a combination of the backlot and extending the sets through green screen (which they also did with Skull Island), conveys that illusion to a T. More importantly, they manage to set up the notion that this is taking place during the Depression, with shots during the opening montage of people out of work, having to scrounge around for food, along with plot-points of the theater Ann Darrow works at closing down and her being forced to steal from a street vendor to keep her stomach full. In addition, you see the portrayal of other events like Prohibition when you see people being tossed out of bars and beer kegs getting smashed up, as well as men working on one of New York's skyscrapers. One of the coolest things is that you get to see some vaudeville acts during the opening sequence, like a guy juggling apples while taking bites out of them at the same time, another guy playing a guitar while bending over completely, looking between his legs, and Ann dancing around while dressed like Charlie Chaplin. This simply has to be one of the most well-executed and believable period pieces ever.



The film is very well-shot, with a grayish sheen to it, particularly during the New York scenes and some of the scenes aboard the Venture (even the scenes in the jungles of Skull Island, which are a little more lush with the color, have this feel to them), that goes along well with the 1930's setting while still managing to be in color, and Peter Jackson manages to create some images that I think are iconic in their own right like the original. One of my favorite shots in the movie is when Ann is being filmed standing on the deck of the Venture and you can see the ocean and the sunset behind her. It's an incredibly beautiful piece of film and, like 1930's New York, the green screen is so good that you'd swear they were really on a ship out in the middle of the ocean rather than filming in a studio backlot. I also really like the nighttime shots of Times Square, which is covered in a lovely blanket of snow, during the final act, and that's to say nothing of the way Central Park looks during the scene on the ice pond, which is nothing short of magical and fairy tale. And several images that often come to mind whenever I think of this movie are Kong and Ann watching the sunset from the cliff on Skull Island, when they're standing in the middle of the empty street as he looks down at her, and when he's holding her in his hand while he's sitting at the top of the Empire State Building, right before the climactic airplane battle. In short, the movie is nothing less than a visual tour-de-force, in more ways than one.



You definitely get to know the Venture a lot more than you did in the original, and while I still think the first act on it lasts a little too long, at least they gave it a memorable look and feel. It's basically a battered, old steamer that you can tell has been through a lot and has seen better days but it still gets you there, so they haven't retired it yet. The parts of it you spend the most time on are the deck, the galley, and especially the hold, which is a rundown, dungeon-like place full of cages for holding wild animals and big bottles of chloroform. It really makes you feel bad for Jack when he's forced to stay in one of those cages, and it's made even worse when he finds out too late that a camel that they were keeping down there had a little... accident on the floor. The whole interior feels really rundown, has a pretty bland look and paint scheme, and, most uncomfortably of all, is often very closed-in and tight. The hallways, in particular are so small that it's virtually impossible for two people to go down them at once, which really gets to me, even though I'm not claustrophobic. But what I find most interesting about the Venture is that it was put into the film through the combination of a full-scale mockup, a real ship, and a very well-detailed miniature, one that was so realistic-looking that, when you see close-ups of it compared to the real ship, it'd be virtually impossible to tell which one was which if there were no identifying captions on the images! I really like that they didn't use a lot of CGI to create it, save for some shots here and there, and that Jackson, despite his love for digital technology, isn't above using old-fashioned techniques like miniatures and models.







In creating Skull Island (this is the first film in which it's actually called that, by the way), as he did with everything else, Jackson took the depiction in the original and cranked it up, making it absolute hell on Earth. As in the original and the 1976 film, it has an air of mystery about it from the beginning when Carl Denham is talking about it when he shows the studio executives the map (how he got it is never explained here; he just came into possession of it) but, when Lumpy tells him and Preston of what he learned about it from the castaway he and Hayes picked up, it starts to take on a downright frightening vibe. The scene where they end up coming across it just when they're about to divert to Rangoon is played off as eerie and unsettling rather than just mysterious, as the ship's compass begins acting up, suggesting that the island has a strong, magnetic force about it, and Denham notices that a spot on his map is actually a freaky skull, while they head through the fog and almost slam into a wall. When you finally see it, the place is anything but inviting, as there are big, jagged rocks sticking out of the water leading to the shore, one of which is shaped like a big skull and another has a monstrous face carved into it, and the shore itself is rocky and sharp, with crevices filled with bones and a dark tunnel leading to the village. The village is just as savage-looking as the rest of the island, with spears sticking out of the ground everywhere, many of which are adorned with skulls, and dwellings that look like they're made out of rock. The Great Wall is obviously very ancient and has menacing-looking carvings on the door and on the other side of it as well, which has a narrow, wooden bridge that can be extended over a chasm, the end of which is where the natives tie Kong's intended sacrifice. They can pour lava down into the chasm out of the carvings in the wall! And speaking of the wall, you may wonder why it extends down into the water. The reason for that is an explanation that Jackson and his other artists have given: the island is slowly but surely sinking into the sea and at this point, all that's left is the very tip of it.





One thing I was not prepared for when I saw the movie in the theater was its depiction of the Skull Islanders. When you see the island itself and the village, you probably wonder what kind of people could live here and you soon get your answer: very frightening, psychotic people. The first one you see is this creepy little girl, who appears out of nowhere and just stares at them creepily with her best Kubrick glare, while holding her arm out. She goes crazy and bites Denham on the hand when he makes the mistake of trying to give her a chocolate bar (you know, thinking about Friday the 13th Part V, it seems like good things never happen whenever chocolate's involved) and runs into a dwelling with a hideous old woman who looks like a witch. She also seems to be the matriarch of the tribe, as when she hears Kong roar in response to Ann screaming at Mike getting speared, she begins chanting, "Torre Kong," prompting them to go after Ann in order to sacrifice her. They all have something unsettling about them in their looks, with many of them having nasty scars and piercings (the one who sneaks aboard the Venture to kidnap Ann has a little bone going right through the top of his nose), and the way they chant, dance, and, in some cases, screech during the sacrifice ceremony later on is blood-curdling. There's one native in particular who's a tall, athletic guy and has this crazed look on his face the whole time, which you really in the close-up of his face when he's about to smash Denham's head in with a club. Their clothing, what little there is, a combination of hair, bones, and looks like wooden weavings, and they get aboard the Venture by pole-vaulting across some rocks, tying a long rope to the one who sneaks ashore.





The interior of the island is certainly a lot greener than what was on the other side of the wall (I didn't realize exactly what I said there until just now when I was looking it over) and it does have a kind of beauty to it, especially the really lush parts deep in the jungle where you have the big log and the chasm it stretches across, but it's definitely no safer or hospitable. You get the feeling you probably wouldn't last very long if you got lost in there, as you'd either die of starvation since there are no edible-looking plants or you'd be killed any of the many deadly creatures that live there, even if you survived falling into the crevices and chasms that dot the place. And is in the original, at the center of the island is a large mountain that serves as Kong's lair, with a tunnel leading up to a ledge where he's able to sit and look over the island. If you look closely in some areas, you'll notice that there are ancient, overgrown ruins strewn about here and there, such as old temples and walkways, suggesting that there once was a civilization on the inside of the wall but was overtaken by the jungle, forcing any survivors to retreat to the other side of it for safety. Like 1930's New York, it's amazing how much Jackson and his crew are able to make this place feel like a real location, with a combination of partial sets, green screen extensions and matte paintings, and some more miniatures, as is the case with the wall and some of the ruins and their surroundings. They also adopted a type of design aesthetic used by the makers of the original King Kong, making a lot of the shots here look like the work of French artist, Gustav Dore, whose trademark was dark foregrounds and backgrounds that got lighter and lighter the farther back they went.



After years of being portrayed as a scary-looking but noble creature who, when pushed, is a major threat, King Kong is brought back to his roots here as a savage and violent monster who holds his island in a grip of fear. You hear his loud, frightening roar long before you actually see him and the sound of it is enough to make the natives decide to sacrifice Ann to him since she seems to have gotten him riled up and they're probably afraid he'll smash through the wall in a rage. As in the original and the 1976 film, Kong is a terrifying sight when you first see him, as he jumps out of the jungle, his face obscured by the smoke from the fire and lava behind Ann, and when he walks up to her, you see how massive he is as he towers above her and you get close-ups of his knuckles digging into the ground and his massive hand touching her. You get a close-up of his eyes and the scars around them when Carl Denham sees him through the wall before he takes off into the jungle with here. This film clarifies something that was hinted at before: Kong has killed all of the other girls who've been offered up to him, ripping them to bits and creating a big pile of bones from their remains at one spot in the jungle. He's fully intent on doing the same thing to Ann at first, as he stands in that spot and swings her back and forth in his hand, growling and roaring, but when she stabs him in the hand with one of the sharp parts of the necklace the natives put around her neck, he drops her and she tries to run away. He does manage to scoop her back up but when he does, he takes her further into the jungle and puts her down near some old ruins, seemingly contemplating what to do with her now. One thing's for sure, though: she's not getting away from him, as he blocks her path and threatens her when she attempts to do so. She manages to entertain him with her vaudeville skills, making him laugh, but when she says "no" to him when he gets rough with her for his amusement, he becomes enraged that she'd dare challenge him and can do nothing but throw a useless tantrum, after which he becomes sheepish, realizing that, for the first time in his life, the balance of power is not in his favor. This is the start of his relationship with Ann but, while he soon becomes soft around her, he's no less dangerous to the rescue party and the other creatures that get in his way. Kong is very territorial and positively brutal when dealing with intruders, throwing Hayes to his death before shaking everyone else off the log, and is also a very proficient fighter when he deals with the larger creatures of the island, never giving up and using everything he has, from his strength and agility to the environment around him, to win the day. Notably, as in the original, he uses his teeth a lot, ripping apart the large bats that swarm him in one scene, biting the heads off some men after he breaks through the wall, and even biting the last V-Rex's tongue out before breaking its jaw!


According to Peter Jackson, Kong's relationship and growing affection for Ann comes from the very simple fact that he's a lonely soul. Jackson says that he's well over a hundred years old and is the last of his kind, as you can tell when you see all of the bones of other Kongs in his the slope leading up the cliff he stays on. He's also obviously been alone for a long time and when you're that isolated for such a long period of time, it'll more than likely drive you absolutely mad. It's especially bad for a gorilla as they, like people, are social animals, which explains why Kong is so violent and cruel. As Jackson once described, Ann's the first thing he's felt compassion for in a long, long time, and it develops gradually over the course of the film. It goes from her just being another sacrifice to him not knowing what to do with her, treating her like a toy, becoming uncomfortable when she manages to stand up to him, protecting her from the V-Rexes since he's the alpha of the island, and finally growing a real bond with her during their scene together watching the sunset from the cliff, as he realizes she's not going to run away from him. He doesn't seem to fall in love with her, as has been the case before, but rather sees her as another creature that he can form a connection with and does so the point where nothing or nobody is going to take her away from him. When he catches Jack trying to slip her away, Kong furiously attacks and is furious when the two of them get away while he's dealing with a swarm of large bats that get stirred up in the commotion, following them back to the village and bursting through the wall to reclaim her. He manages fight through Denham and Englehorn's attempts to trap him but is eventually overcome when he gets an entire bottle of chloroform to the face and, in the first scene where you feel truly sorry for him, futilely reaches for the crying Ann, with a sad and confused expression on his face, before finally succumbing to the chloroform and passing out. Akin to King Kong '76, he seems broken and depressed when he's being exhibited on Broadway, barely moving and doing nothing to escape, but when he's presented with a stand-in for Ann, this, combined with the photographers' flashbulbs, enrages him to where he breaks loose and goes on a rampage. When he bursts out of the theater, he's positively desperate to find Ann, grabbing every blonde woman he sees and tossing her aside in a panic, building to a frustration that he takes out on a bus. His rage then focuses on Jack, whom he hates for taking her away from him to begin with, and chases him throughout the city, almost killing him, when Ann appears to him. Kong almost seems reluctant to believe it is her at first, after having been fooled so many times, but when he sees it is her, a feeling of peace comes over him and the two of them share a couple of more happy moments before his desire to protect her leads to his downfall.




CGI is used so much nowadays, often very needlessly, that it seems like people are always critical of it and never satisfied, no matter how good and believable it is. While I totally agree with that latter notion and wish that they'd mixed it up a bit here by using some practical effects for the close-ups of Kong's face and limbs, I think the effects in this movie are very well-done and deserved the Oscar that they received. I do know and can tell that it is CGI, but it's about as good as it can get, in my opinion, and, in fact, there are moments, often in the extreme close-ups of his face, where I feel like I'm looking at a real ape. That's partially due to the biggest accomplishment in this version of Kong: his emotiveness. Like Willis O'Brien before them, the effects artists and Andy Serkis, through his motion-capture, had to turn a special effect into a breathing, thinking, and feeling creature and they absolutely succeeded. When you look at Kong, you're looking at a full-realized character, one whose emotions you can read all over his face: if he's angry, he's angry; if he's happy, he's happy; if he's sad, he's sad. I know Doug Walker said that's not very animalistic but it's done so well and is very effective in this telling of the story that I don't care. I love being able to see what he's going through, and it's all the more impressive when you remember that they had to do this entirely through the face, with no dialogue at all. It's so well-realized that during his final moments at the end, you can see the life drain out of him if you really watch his face right before he slips off the top of the building (it almost brought me to tears when I saw it in the theater). Some may disagree, and that's fine, but I think everybody involved in bringing Kong to life here deserves all of the kudos that they can get, because the work they did is absolutely magnificent and magical.





In the past, Kong's body structure and shape has always been less of a gorilla and more that of an ape who's simply most similar to a gorilla, but in this film, he is definitely 100% an overgrown, silverback gorilla. His physique, quadrupedal stance, his supporting his weight on his knuckles, etc.: it all spells gorilla, as was Jackson and the designers' goal (although, it took a while for them to settle on that). When they originally attempted to make the movie in 1996, their conception of Kong was of a gorilla in his prime but, when they came back to it nearly a decade later, they decided instead to make him very old and battered, albeit still very much able to fight and defend himself. Jackson said that they also wanted to make him rather ugly but when I look at him, I don't see him as ugly and I do think there's still some majesty to him... he's just got some serious mileage on him. There are a plethora of battle scars on his chest and back and in the close-ups on his face, you can see some nasty scars around his eyes as well. Plus, when he opens his mouth, you may notice that his lower jaw is a little unhinged and doesn't quite line up with the upper, and the right side of his brow droops down slightly over his eye. He's like a war veteran, in that regard. As for his roar, which is a combination of Andy Serkis' voice and a bunch of animal sounds, it's not as distinctive as the ones in the other movies and is more generic, but is still loud and threatening, as it should be, and the same goes for his lion-like growls. I do like how you can hear constantly huffing and breathing, which is another addition that makes him feel like a real creature and, when he does it around Ann, is very gorilla-like in that they do that to communicate with each other.





One thing I was curious about going into the movie was how it was going to differentiate the dinosaurs that live on Skull Island from those in the Jurassic Park movies, the series that is the standard for computer-generated dinosaurs, and once I saw them, I thought they were well-executed and successfully different from their predecessors. Going with the notion that they've continued evolving over the millions of years they've been living on the island, and giving them features like crocodile-like scales and, in some cases, mammalian touches to their designs, Peter Jackson and his team managed to come up with some pretty cool-looking creatures. The first dinosaurs you see are the Brontosaurs which, unlike the predatory one featured in the original King Kong, are only dangerous when they stampede through the gorge in a panic, stomping on several people unlucky enough to get in their way. They're being chased by creatures called Venatosaurs, which are Skull Island's version of the Jurassic Park Velociraptors, only much bigger but just as quick, agile, and deadly. Ann runs into a couple of large, quadrupedal carnivores called Foetodons, which are kind of like crocodiles but live out of water and much more overtly aggressive, as seen by the one who chases after her relentlessly before getting attacked and eaten by one of the biggest and deadliest type of dinosaur on the island: Vastatosaurus Rex, or V-Rex. There are three of them that are seen and, according to the creature designers, make up a family: the one that kill the Foetodon is a fairly small but no less deadly juvenile, the one that's the main threat, and gets his jaws broken by Kong, is the large male or "bull," and the third one that joins in the fight, is an old female. While it's cool that they decided to give them different ages and genders, I wouldn't have known which was which if I never watched the documentary on the film and even then, I lose track of them during the three-on-one fight between them and Kong (if I get which one is which wrong during my breakdown of that sequence later on, I apologize). In the establishing shot of the cliff that serves as Kong's lair later on, you can see a Styracosaur-like dinosaur called a Ferrucutus grazing around its base (it had a scene all its own originally but was cut from the theatrical version).





Kong and the dinosaurs are far from the only threats Skull Island has to offer, as it's full of a lot of oversized, creepy-crawlies as well. It seems like all of the insects and similar creatures are bigger than average there, from the mosquitoes, which you can actually shoot at, to the centipedes, which Ann discovers in a scene that's always made my skin crawl. The most disgusting creatures show up in Jackson's recreation of the lost "spider-pit" scene from the original, where Jack, Denham, Jimmy, and a couple of others are attacked by hoards of oversized bugs. You have big spiders and beetle-like creatures of varying sizes, big weta (cricket-like insects that are found in New Zealand and are the namesake of Jackson's effects studios, Weta Workshop and Weta Digital), enormous creatures with crab-like claws hiding in the crevices along the canyon-walls, and, most disgusting of all, pit slugs that devour poor Lumpy alive. I thought the latter were big leeches when I first saw the movie in the theater but, whatever they're meant to be, they are absolutely hideous, not to mention very phallic (note the hairs around the rim of the "sack"; whoever designed that knew exactly what they were doing), and give me chills just thinking about them. One thing this Skull Island doesn't have is the Pterodactyl from the original; in its place are these big, ugly, hairless bat-like creatures that swarm Kong when Jack manages to get Ann away from him (beforehand, you get a more detailed close-up of one's face than you'd ever want). There are some other creatures that appear only in the extended version of the movie but I'll talk about them when I touch on that version later.



As far as the interaction between the live-action actors and the special effects, which has been a big part of the King Kong movies ever since the original, I believe that it's as great here as you could possibly hope for. The green screen makes me believe that they're really in the environments of 1930's New York and Skull Island and I also feel that they are running from and battling these creatures. The insect pit scene is a great example, as it does feel like those really unlucky sailors are being devoured and torn apart by those big bugs, as well as when Kong is protecting Ann from the V-Rexes. Speaking of which, the top prize here goes to the interactions between Ann and Kong period. As I described earlier, Kong is such a perfectly-realized creature, Naomi Watts is so good in her acting, and the compositing of the two together is so seamless and well-done that I'm very often able to forget that I'm watching a real actor interacting with a special effect and think of them as two characters reacting off each other. The fact that she and Andy Serkis really were interacting with each other in those scenes helps it even more so, because then it really is two people working with each other.




In both the original and the 1976 version, the first big scene was the sacrifice and Kong's first appearance but here, it's long before that, when they first come across Skull Island. As I said, the buildup to it is very eerie, as the ship's compass begins acting up, Hayes is unable to check their position using the stars because the sky is suddenly full of clouds, and Denham notices that a strange mark on his map is that of a freakish skull, with the word "fog" written next to it... just as the ship comes across a large fogbank. Everyone then comes out on deck to see what's going on, Jimmy, who's up in the crow's nest, uses a flashlight to try to see through the fog, and Captain Englehorn tries to find a way out into clearer conditions. They're then told by the man checking the depth that there's a seabed at 25 fathoms and as Englehorn tries to steer away from it, the man says it's now at 22 fathoms. Englehorn orders the lights on the bridge shut off so he can see better and as the Venture keeps plowing forward, Jimmy sees an enormous wall of rock materialize out of the fog ahead. Englehorn spins the wheel, trying to steer the ship away from it, and orders Hayes to stop the engines, but they've got too much momentum and they brace for impact. The bow smacks into the side of the wall, throwing everyone off-balance, and the ship slowly backs up, Englehorn ordering Hayes to give him some engine power. As they back up, Jack sees that they're heading towards enormous rocks sticking out of the ocean, and Jimmy confirms this by yelling that they're all around the ship. Englehorn has Hayes take the wheel as he runs on deck to see for himself and the ship moves forward, is caught up in a swell in the water, and is slammed against a rock on its side. It lurches forward and Englehorn takes the wheel again, ordering it full-ahead, as Hayes runs on deck and warns him that there are rocks to port. He tries to steer the ship to starboard but the ship gets caught up in another swell and is slammed completely against another rock that is shaped like a skull. It's forced alongside it and there's a loud crack as it moves forward a few more inches before coming to a complete stop. Everyone tries to figure out what happened and Englehorn kills the engines, while Denham looks through the fog and sees the Great Wall leading down into the sea, which Jack and Ann see as well.






Englehorn, Hayes, and the crew are preoccupied with fixing the huge leaks in the ship's hull, as it's stuck against the rock, while Denham takes the opportunity to row ashore to the island with his cast, crew, and some of the ship's mates. Englehorn is determined to get the ship repaired and ready to leave on the next tide, with or without Denham, who's ecstatic that he has his movie and films as they row their way to the island, passing by big rocks with freakish carvings. They come aground in a rocky cove and walk through a tunnel there, where they see the grisly sight of human skulls dotting the walls. While Hayes explains the darker aspects of Heart of Darkness to Jimmy on the ship, Denham and the others walk across a small bridge one piece of the island to another and eventually reach the village and the glorious center of the Great Wall. As they walk around it, exploring and filming, Denham proclaims it to be an abandoned ruin, but the close-up of freshly-speared fish in one spot suggests otherwise. They continue looking around the place, which has an air of menace that's not lost on any of them, Denham spots a creepy-looking, native girl standing nearby. She stares right at them and holds her right arm up, gesturing towards them. Ann tries to convince Denham that they should go back to the ship but he's confident he can handle it. He pulls out a chocolate bar and tries to placate the girl with it, but she doesn't respond at all when he walks towards her with it. It begins to rain as he tries to put in her hand and then, she snarls at him, struggling and pulling at his hand on her wrist. She bites into his hand and he lets her go, but chases after her in anger, only to come face-to-face with the elderly matriarch of the tribe. He turns around and sees that there are other natives surrounding him but he assures that, "It's just a bunch of women and old folks. They're harmless." Not quite, though, as Mike, who was standing right next to Ann, is speared completely through his torso and falls to the ground. Ann lets out a loud, frightened scream that echoes throughout the island... and a loud, terrifying roar from the island's interior answers her (it's so loud, that those on the boat seemed to have heard it). The old matriarch says, "Torre Kong," and Ann is surrounded by large and strong-looking male natives, while everyone else is ambushed and attacked. Despite some of them, like Denham, putting up a good fight, they're overwhelmed and restrained. Jack tries to protect Ann but isn't able to do much, while one of ship mates' head is forced down onto a rock and is crushed by a blow from a jagged club. Denham is forced over to be the next one, while Ann receives an incantation from the matriarch that ends in the phrase "Torre Kong," and Jack is knocked unconscious by a whack to the back of the head (he gets a good look at one of the natives' necklaces before he passes out). Just as Denham's head is about to crushed, the native is suddenly shot and falls back. A cut shows that the shot came from Englehorn, who fires a couple of more times for good measure, panicking the natives and prompting them to flee, dropping Denham and letting go of Ann. Other crew members storm in, as he surveys the scene, Englehorn looks at Denham and asks, "Seen enough?"





As rain continues to pour that night, the crew attempts to lighten the ship so they can get it off the rock easier and throws everything that's unnecessary overboard. While Ann stands in her cabin, still frightened over what she went through earlier, we see one of the natives pole vaulting across some rocks leading off the island, with a long rope tied around him that's being fed by several others. He manages to land on the ship's deck, dropping his necklace, while Jack is awoken when one of the tables he's lying on is taken to be thrown overboard. The native sneaks his way down towards Ann's cabin as Jack stumbles onto the deck and finds the necklace. Realizing one of them is aboard, he frantically asks Jimmy where Ann is and heads down the hallway toward her cabin. He stumbles due to the rocking ship and sees the door to it swing open by itself, revealing that it's been ransacked. Hayes then manages to pry the Venture loose from the rock and everyone else cheers, as Englehorn puts it full-ahead, with both engines. Running into her cabin, Jack sees that Ann is gone and as he tries to run back out, he slips and sees the body of a dead crew member, with a pool of blood behind his head. Another cut shows Ann being dragged ashore by the natives, and as the Venture steers out of the rocks, Jack runs across the deck, yelling for them to turn back, and tells Englehorn that Ann has been taken. The captain turns to look at the island upon hearing the sounds of drums and sees lights around the base of the Great Wall.






At the village, Ann is forced down a path between rows of chanting and stomping natives, who repeatedly say, "Kong!", and when she gets up to the gate of the wall, the old matriarch, now wearing a black veil over her face, recites another incantation while flinging some kind of liquid on her face. The native women convulse and shake around her, many of them with their rolled up in the back of their heads, and Ann struggles to get free of the natives holding her down, while back at the Venture, the men arm themselves to the teeth and load up the lifeboats. Denham does the same, except he loads up his boat with the camera equipment. The two boats are seen rowing towards the island, as the camera pans up, over a ridge, above the village, and behind the wall, where Ann is tied to the end of a raised bridge. The natives continue to chant and screech, and they pour molten lava out of carvings on the wall, into the chasm below, while smacking drums and other makeshift instruments. The matriarch places a necklace made up of hair and bones around Ann's neck, and a shot in the jungle shows the trees swaying, as something large approaches. The bridge is then slowly lowered towards the jungle, Ann futilely trying to keep from being pulled off the platform she's standing on, and the chanting and drumming increases in speed and intensity. Ann is finally lowered down at the jungle's edge, still struggling to get free, when she hears the sound of rustling and cracking. She sees some trees shaking nearby, followed by a glimpse of a large shape jumping down from a ridge, and after a shot of the men reaching the cove, Kong bounds out of the trees and lands right in front of her. Ann lets out a scream as he stomps up to her, with a close-up of his big hand digging into the ground, and as the natives watch, he reaches out and caresses the left side of her face with his fingers. The men then enter the village, shooting up into the air to scare the natives as they search for Ann, who tries even harder to get loose upon hearing them but Kong grabs her and pulls her loose of her bindings. He lets out a loud roar, which causes them to stop dead in their tracks, and Ann then screams as he holds her up to his face. Realizing she's behind the wall, Jack and Denham rush for it. Jack runs up a staircase leading to the top of it while Denham heads for the gate and looks through the openings in it... and gets the shock of his life when, just as he turns to retreat into the jungle with Ann, Kong looks back, glaring and growling at him. He then runs off into the jungle, leaving Denham absolutely shocked, while Jack makes it up to the top of the wall and sees that Ann's gone.



While the heavily-armed rescue team heads into the jungle, told that they have 24 hours, Kong charges through the jungle, carrying Ann in his right hand, and comes to a stop on a ledge. He shakes her around in his hand, jabs at her with his other one, and snarls and roars, showing her his enormous, sharp teeth. He continues doing this, as she yells and struggles in his hand, which seems to make him more violent, and she then sees the horrific sight of a boneyard.. all of them with the same type of necklace she has. Realizing she's going to be next if she doesn't get away, she pulls her necklace off, and when Kong lifts his hand back in the upright positions, she stabs into his finger with one of the sharp bones decorating it. He drops her and she lands in the midst of the bones, trying to crawl away. Kong then hears the sound of Jack and Hayes calling for her nearby and he easily chases her down along the side of the cliff. He grabs her and runs off deeper into the jungle as she screams, running across a natural bridge over a chasm and jumping over another one. Ann continues to struggle but, naturally, can do nothing to escape his powerful grip.




The rescue team stops for a break in a long, manmade canyon, and Denham takes the opportunity to go shoot some footage of it, when the others discover Kong's enormous footprint in the mud. Reaching the end of the canyon, where it opens up into a large clearing, Denham and Bruce Baxter come across a herd of grazing Brontosaurs. Unable to pass up the chance, Denham puts his tripod down and begins filming, telling Baxter to walk towards them, as Herb catches up. Baxter inches closer towards the dinosaurs, per Denham's instructions, when they suddenly stop grazing and rear up, making some alarmed grunts. They look around nervously and become more antsy, Denham telling Baxter to not make any sudden movements... and he then clarifies that he isn't moving. Some large, dark shapes run past behind the Brontosaurs and they start to turn around and move towards the people. Seeing trouble, Baxter hightails it back down the valley, while Denham and Herb continue filming. Back at the spot where everyone else is resting, the ground begins to shake and rocks tumble down from the cliffs above. The shaking becomes more violent and larger chunks of rock tumble down from above, when Baxter shows up, running like a coward. When Jack asks him where Denham is, he simply says back up there, filming, and continues running. Realizing something's wrong, everyone else starts running with Baxter, while Jack, Hayes, and Jimmy walk back up the canyon to see what's going on, when they're passed by a stumbling Herb. Denham, carrying his tripod over his shoulder, rounds the corner ahead and tells Jack to run, as the Brontosaurs appear right behind him. Horrified, they run for it, when Denham trips and falls. Jack helps him up, trying to get him to leave the camera but he refuses, and they then start running, with the Brontosaurs only a few feet behind them, crowding and slamming against each other in the narrow canyon. Jack and Denham maneuver amongst the dinosaurs' huge legs, trying to avoid being stepped on, when they catch up to the others. One guy isn't so lucky, as he's crushed underneath a foot, and a shot behind the Brontosaurs shows what they're running from: the raptor-like Venatosaurs. One of them runs up alongside the cliff-face and jumps on a Brontosaur's neck, hanging onto it as he sinks his teeth into the flesh. A sailor is crushed against the right side of the canyon, while the aforementioned Brontosaur manages to slam the Venatosaur against the opposite wall, knocking him off and causing him to land in front of Hayes on the ground. He tries to have a go at Hayes but he's able to jump over him while kicking him in the head at the same time. Running amongst the Brontosaurs' legs, Baxter manages to take cover behind a stone outcropping and wait for them to pass. When he looks above him, though, he sees a Venatosaur snarling down at him, prompting him to run back amongst the Brontosaurs. Fortunately for him, the Venatosaur couldn't get at him because he's temporarily stuck in the carving, but he manages to break through and chase after them. That scare gave Baxter enough adrenaline to get ahead of some of the men in front of him!





The Venatosaur speeds his way between the Brontosaurs and reaches Jack and Denham. He takes a snap at Jack, who manages to duck underneath a Brontosaur on his right for cover, and after he fails to get him several more times, he focuses on Denham ahead of him. He catches up to him and opens his jaws, preparing to bite him in half, but Jack rams the Venatosaur from the side, causing him to stumble and get trampled to death by the Brontosaurs (he gets a foot right to the face!) The men and dinosaurs round a corner that twists the path along a narrow cliff ledge, where Jimmy narrowly avoids getting stepped on by running to the edge. He turns around to see a Brontosaur unintentionally send a man flying off the edge to his doom when he tries to make the turn and the dinosaur himself gets knocked by one of his own kind. Several more fall off the cliff due to not being able to stop in time, and as they all crowd around the ledge, the weak structure begins to crumble due to their weight. Jimmy runs along the crumbling edge, narrowly avoiding slipping off, as other Brontosaurs which are doing the same aren't as lucky. The Venatosaurs continue weaving around the legs as the stampede heads into another canyon, an even narrower one than where it started, and Baxter, at the front of the line, turns to see one of the meat-eaters closing in on him as they run down a slope. Panicked, he shoots him down but continues firing, despite Jack's warnings, caps the Brontosaur in front in the legs, causing him to fall and slide along the ground. Baxter ducks and the dinosaur slides over him, crashing along the gorge and falling on top of a Venatosaur that tries to get Hayes. Another Brontosaur behind him falls over his body, with two sailors almost getting crushed, and this cycle repeats as the other Brontosaurs make it to that spot, Preston, Denham, and others avoiding getting crushed. Another Venatosaur is caught up in the chain reaction, two Brontosaurs slam into each other in mid-air, and Hayes has to grab Jimmy and push him against the wall to avoid getting crushed to death. Denham shields his camera on the ground and Jack rolls out the way as more Brontosaurs pile up and slowly but surely come to a stop. He runs over to Denham, who slides down a Brontosaur's leg while holding his camera, and shoots down a Venatosaur that lunges at him out of the pile. He helps Denham to his feet and they join the others, realizing they're not out of danger yet, as more Venatosaurs close in on them. Hayes shoots down one as they climb up a steep hill, while three more chase them up there. Caught on a ledge, Herb yells for Denham and hands him the tripod. Denham offers to pull him up with it but Herb insists he leave him. Before he can do anything, Herb is grabbed by the leg and pulled down, with Denham watching in horror as he's eaten alive.






Elsewhere, Kong sets Ann down at the top of a large, overgrown temple. Snorting and growling, he pushes and pokes at her body, but when he doesn't get any response, he sits down at the top of some stone stairs, in-between two large pillars, and scratches at his chest (in the theater, my cousin leaned over to me and said, "That looks like you.) Ann, however, is faking being unconscious and looks up at Kong with a cautious expression. Following a quick look back at the rescue party, where Baxter and a couple of other guys decide to give up on Ann and get back to the village before Englehorn leaves, we see Ann slowly crawl along the ground, while Kong pulls out some bamboo and chomps on it behind her. She continues crawling and when she looks over her shoulder and sees him reach for another, she quickly lies still again, which was a good move as he peers over to check on her. Seeing that she's not moving, he pulls out the bamboo and we get a close-up of his face as he pulls out the edible innards and munches on them (my cousin then leaned over and said, "That looks and sounds like you when you eat," to which I said, "Would you stop comparing me to him?!"), while Ann begins crawling away again in the background. She nearly gives herself away when, not watching where she's going, her hand hits a large spider hiding underneath and a nearby rock. She quickly ducks behind a large outcropping and breathes a sigh of relief when Kong simply pulls out another piece of bamboo. Spying a small passage through the ruin, she ducks into it and runs out the other side, only to narrowly avoid Kong's enormous fist when he brings it down in front of her. She tries to run back the other way but he brings his other first down in response. He keeps his body in front of her as she tries to get around him and growls while leaning down at her. She attempts to escape to the right but he blocks her path and backs her up on a stone ledge, growling and yelling at her repeatedly. Slowly standing up after falling down, Ann looks up at Kong as he continues glaring and growling at her. Unsure of what to do, she then surprises him by jumping up into the air and falling back down. He backs up, startled, stomping his hands and growling at her. When he gets no response, he slowly leans his head down to look at her, and she suddenly jumps up and does a spin in the air. Surprised and startled again, Kong backs up and growls, prompting her to do a short jig and fall again. Still not sure what to make of it, he leans back down to look at her and she jumps up again, causing him to back up in surprise again.




As Ann looks up at him, Kong actually begins to laugh and smacks the ground with his hand. He watches as she does a couple of cartwheels but that doesn't seem to impress him, as he growls and roars at her. She does another flip, which causes him to stumble backwards and rest up against the cliff. He then chuckles and slaps his chest when she jumps back to her feet, and continues to be amused when she does an Egyptian pose, dances a bit, and starts juggling some small rocks. He becomes slightly bored at this but when she does a dance, using a stick as a cane, he starts to laugh again... and when she poses with the stick, he knocks it out from under her hand, causing her to fall. This really tickles him, and when she stands back up, he knocks her back over and he laughs uproariously and hoots happily. Slapping his chest, he forces her back down when she tries to stand up and, after laughing again, he actually picks her up and knocks her down again. Ann gets back up and when he reaches to knock her down yet again, she smacks his hand, yelling, "No!" Ignoring her, he goes for it again but she then says, "I said, 'No!'" Irritated at her audacity, he snarls and roars at her, but she stands her ground and says, "That's all there is. There isn't anymore." Now completely enraged, Kong punches the ground next to her and roars right into her face before punching the ground in front of her. This doesn't work, either, and he throws a tantrum, smashing, throwing, and tearing at the scenery around him while yelling in anger. He throws a piece of stone up the cliff beside him and roars at Ann while beating his chest, before standing in front of her, satisfied. And then, the stone comes rolling back down the hill and hits him in the back of the head. Shaking it off, Kong turns his back on Ann, snorting and huffing in embarrassment, and then growing more and more sheepish and uncomfortable about what just happened. As she watches, he jumps off the cliff, grabs the side of the ruin, and swings along it out of sight. Seeing her chance, Ann then runs off into the jungle.





Next, we get the log scene. Led by Hayes, they cross over the log that bridges the large chasm, when he motions for them to stop. A huge swarm of bats flies out of a nearby cave and they hear some pounding-like sounds inside. Telling Jimmy to run if anything happens, Hayes makes his way towards the cave, with his Tommy gun drawn, and stops at the entrance. Hearing more pounding, he and everyone else readies themselves, and when they some snorting and roaring, Hayes yells for them to go back. Jack has to restrain Jimmy from running towards him and they head back across the log, as Hayes fires several rounds into the cave. A loud, angry roar is heard before Kong comes charging out of the darkness and grabs Hayes right when he draws his handgun but before he can cock it. He squeezes Hayes in his grip and Jack continues having keep Jimmy, who is desperate to help, back. Kong lets out a territorial roar and prompts them to back up onto the log, while Hayes makes him focus his attention on him. Jimmy yells at Kong to put him down, while Hayes tells him to run, as he slowly cocks his gun. Kong narrows his eyes, apparently knowing what he's doing, and tosses him before he can take a shot. Hayes smacks against the cliff-face on the opposite side and falls to his death in the chasm. Jack and everyone else unload their weapons at Kong, while Jimmy screams mournfully and Denham is only concerned with filming on the other side of the log. Enraged, Kong pounds the base of the log, dislodging it and sending one man falling to his death. Nearby, Ann hears the gunshots and runs towards them, yelling for their attention, while back at the log, Kong sends another man falling, as he rocks the log back and forth by its roots. Jack and Jimmy hang onto some branches sticking out of the side, as everyone loses their balance and falls onto the trunk, with Denham dropping his camera and Lumpy his gun. Denham tries to save his camera, which is snagged in some branches on the underside, while Lumpy grabs his gun and fires at Kong. Choy is knocked down and is hanging by the edge of the tree, prompting Lumpy to drop his gun and help him. But, before he can even reach him, Kong raises the log up and shifts it hard to left, causing Choy to lose his grip and fall. Kong then slams the log down a few feet along the edge of the cliff, then picks it back up and sends it tumbling down into the chasm. It snags onto some vines along the wall of the cliff and catches on a narrow space between the walls. Denham hangs onto the end for dear life and Preston is forced to jump for the vines (where he apparently stayed for the duration of the insect pit scene), as the long falls a few more feet before catching on another narrow space and dropping the survivors down onto the ground below.





Ann continues running through the jungle, when she comes across a Foetodon eating the carcass of another dinosaur. Fortunately, he has his back turned to her, giving her time to back up and slip behind a tree, as she steps on a twig, the snap of which causes the dinosaur to raise his head up out of the carcass. Ann attempts to run the other way, only to come face-to-face with another Foetodon, which hisses and lunges at her. He chases her through the brush and she's forced to run inside a fallen, hollow log. Falling on her back, she backs up as he tears through the weak bark, shoving himself inside log while snapping at her, and is joined by the other Foetodon in the process. He almost has her, when he's suddenly pulled back and screeches as he's yanked out of the log and up into the air by something that finishes him off with a loud crack. The other Foetodon flees and the dead one's body is pulled out of sight, when Ann's attention is drawn to an enormous centipede crawling across the roof of the log. Reaching her, it lowers itself down towards her and looks like it's about to bypass her, when it suddenly turns itself right at her and moves its antennae along her face. Ann is so horrified by this that she doesn't notice a second one until it crawls up her back and over her left shoulder. Seeing this, she quickly tosses it off and crawls out of the log, and then remembers that there's something else out there that's worse. Turning around, she sees the dead Foetodon hanging from the jaws of a young Vastatosaurus Rex, which sees her immediately. Growling, the creature chases after, smashing the log with his foot, and tries to knock Ann off a small ledge with the side of his head. He drowns down into the gap in the ground and keeps up with her as she runs along the ledge, the two paths converging downward up ahead. He bites the Foetodon carcass in half, the severed part hitting the ground near her, as she runs for it along the ground, dodging a swipe from his head. She slips down a slick, moss-covered slope and runs alongside the V-Rex, which has lost sight of her due to the thick foliage between them. Reaching the end of a broken log hanging over the edge of a cliff, Ann lies down, watching as the V-Rex is unable to find her and, after scanning the area with no luck, wanders off, gulping down what's left of the Foetodon. The camera pulls back away from Ann, revealing that she's far from safe, as the head of a much larger V-Rex, the "bull," is right beside the log. Smelling her, he raises his head up and back and sees her, right before she turns her head while crawling away and spots him. He takes a snap at her, tilting his head so he can more effectively bite her in half, but she manages to roll out of the way. When a second bite doesn't work, he smacks the side of the log with his head, causing her to fall between the parts of its broken end, screaming as she does so. She grabs onto a piece and the V-Rex closes in as she hangs there, neither of them realizing that her scream didn't go unnoticed.





Kong bursts out of the trees on a nearby cliff, grabs onto the branch of a tree across from the log, and kicks the V-Rex in the face as he's about to get Ann. Dropping down, Kong catches Ann in his hand when she falls from the log and rolls himself over, pulling her out of the way just in time when the V-Rex tries to snap at her. Both monsters roll over and get to their feet, Kong backing away and growling at the V-Rex, which then charges at him. He grabs the dinosaur's snout and manages to hold him back with his strong arm, but Ann sees the juvenile emerge from the jungle nearby. Spotting Ann, he chomps down the rest of his previous meal and creeps up towards her. Kong is too busy struggling with the bull to notice and Ann screams as the juvenile comes for her. Hearing her, Kong turns his head and then swings his arm so the juvenile ends up biting his elbow. He manages to fling both V-Rexes off and backs away, as they both roar challenges at him and stalk towards him. He continues backing away and holds her up in his hand, and then has to quickly turn when a third V-Rex, the matriarch, comes up behind him and tries to get her. The other two take the opportunity to charge at him but Kong manages to punch both of them away, right in the face. The matriarch charges at him but he gets her in a headlock and bashes her on her crown, having to catch the charging juvenile's snout with his right foot, hold him back, and shove him away. When the bull comes at him from the other side, he gets him in a headlock with his other arm and flings him into the juvenile. Letting go of the matriarch, he tosses Ann into his other hand and keeps her away from the snapping jaws. He knocks one behind him onto the ground and, using his right arm and left hand, pulls the matriarch's jaws back and sends her plummeting down. He turns in circles, trying to keep Ann away from the bull's jaws, and then picks him under his belly with his right arm, and tosses him over his shoulder, into the juvenile. He punches the matriarch away when she tries for another go and gives the juvenile an uppercut, knocking him to the ground, and smashes his head in with a big rock. He faces the bull, when the matriarch comes up behind him and bites his shoulder. He has to punch the bull away, gets the matriarch jaws loose, and flips her over his shoulder, onto the bull on a ledge below. Kong himself gets flipped in the process and all three monsters roll down the steepening cliff, with Ann getting tossed up into the air and Kong having to grab her with his foot to keep her from getting squished as the matriarch falls on top of him when they hit a ledge. Kong kicks her off and she falls down to the slippery slope below, unable to get any traction as she slides towards the edge. Kong then uppercuts the bull and, after switching hands with Ann again, sinks his teeth into the V-Rex's neck.




The two of them fall forward off the ledge, slamming onto a tree, and both do a flip as they fall down towards the edge of it. The matriarch bites into Kong's arm from behind and he has to throw Ann into the air and grab her with his foot. He flips the matriarch over his shoulders and they both go over the edge. Kong manages to grab onto the ledge, while the matriarch hits another ledge below and helplessly falls out of sight. Kong tries to climb back up, when the bull walks up to give him trouble. Turning the tables on him, he grabs his leg and pulls him over the ledge. Unfortunately, he lands on the ledge below and, as he slides down, bites Kong's leg with the foot he's holding Ann with. Roaring in pain, his grip weakens and, while he tries to hold on, the bull pulls against him with his feet against the cliff-wall, causing him to lose it completely. They both then fall, Kong failing to get a grip on the ledge below, and tumble down towards a huge snag of vines hanging between the canyon walls. He loses his grip on Ann, who grabs onto some vines up above, while he headlocks the bull as they get caught up in another snag farther down. Ann swings in the vine, while Kong fights with the bull below, punching him in the head. As Ann swings forward, we then see that the matriarch got tangled up in the vines across from her and, seeing her chance, she pushes off the wall with her leg and attempts to get her with her jaws, missing by mere inches. Kong takes out the bull with two punches to the head and then swings across to the canyon wall, looking up as the matriarch again misses Ann by mere inches. He climbs his way up to them, Ann again narrowly missing getting chomped and about to be swung directly into the matriarch's jaws, when Kong leaps up and grabs her tail. The force, combined with the weight of them, causes them all to fall, the matriarch turning upside down in mid-air and Ann being forced to grab onto the side of her head. Kong swings them back and forth, bashing the matriarch's head against the cliff, but causing them to fall further down as well. Ann falls and grabs onto the V-Rex's teeth, while the bull, tangled up just a few feet below, chomps at her. Kong swings and kicks him away, while the matriarch snaps up at Ann, causing her to lose her grip and fall. She lands on the bull's snout, Kong unable to reach her, and tries to keep from getting flung off. Kong lowers down and reaches for her, when the matriarch bites his elbow from behind. They roll over in the vines and Kong smashes the her head against the cliff, while the vines holding the bull untangle and both he and Ann fall, landing in a marsh below, with Ann tossed backwards off the snout.




As Kong smashes the matriarch's head back and forth against the canyon walls, the bull chases Ann out of the marsh and into a clearing, roaring at her as he comes in for the kill. That's when Kong hits the ground behind Ann and faces off with the dinosaur, huffing and snorting. The bull roars a challenge at Kong, approaching him and Ann, who slowly ducks underneath the ape for protection. He lets out another roar and Kong answers with one of his own. The two then charge at each other, with Ann getting knocked aside, as Kong grabs the V-Rex's jaws, forces them open, tears out his tongue with his own teeth, spits it away, and wrestles him to the ground. As he holds onto his top jaw, the V-Rex tries to fling him off but holds his grip on his neck with his powerful legs, trying to force his mouth open. As Ann watches, the two of them roll over, Kong getting back on top, and prying the jaws open. He loses his grip from the struggling but Kong punches the V-Rex in the head, grabs onto the jaws again, and, as the bull futilely struggles to get free, forces them open and breaks them. After bending the top jaw backwards, he drops the head as it goes limp and plays with the jaw a bit to make sure he's won. When he sees that he has, Kong stands up on his hind legs, puts his foot on the body, and roars and beats his chest triumphantly. Going back to his normal posture, he pushes the head aside and walks in front of Ann, turning his back to her. Snorting and huffing, he turns his head slightly towards her and lets out a short roar. She tries to walk around him to face him, only for him to jerk his head way and tilt his chin up, acting as if he's angry at her. He begins to walk away and seems like he's going to leave her. Ann runs after him, yelling for him to wait, when he picks her up and tosses her onto his shoulder, taking off into a full-on sprint.




Given Jackson's love for the original King Kong and his interest in the lost "spider-pit" scene, it wasn't that surprising when to see that he'd done his own take on it here. Jack regains consciousness at the bottom of the chasm and sees a horde of enormous insects emerging from the rocks across from him. Quickly, he grabs a flare out of a nearby bag, lights it, and throws it at the bugs, prompting them to retreat back into their crevices. He then checks on Denham, and after seeing that he's alright, runs over to Jimmy, whom he has to comfort when he wakes up and remembers that Hayes is dead. Nearby, Lumpy is holding Choy's hand, only for it to slip out and confirm that he is dead, and Denham discovers that his camera and film were destroyed in the fall. None of them have much time to grieve, though, as the flare soon burns out. The insects, will consist of big, spider-like creature and huge weta, being to approach, while Lumpy sees that the muck he and Choy landed near is full of huge, disgusting worm creatures with mouths full of sharp teeth. Noticing the two of them, one of them goes for Choy and Lumpy punches at it and the others in order to save his friend's corpse, when a giant weta jumps on his back. Struggling with it in a panic, Lumpy yells for help and Jack manages to get it off as it climbs up onto his head, but it quickly turns around in his hands and attacks him. Lumpy hacks up the slugs with a machete, as more weta jump on Jack and Denham angrily attacks the insects around him, smacking at the weta and a large, beetle-like creature with crab claws with the butt of a rifle. A massive amount of weta converge on him, while a beetle crawls down the wall behind him, and one hapless sailor tries to climb out of the chasm, only to be grabbed by a huge claw that pulls him into a crevice. More and more insects climb down the walls towards them, as Jimmy fights off weta, Denham stomps at a bunch of them coming for his feet, and Jacks punches at a mass of them in front of him. Lumpy, meanwhile, is grabbed on his left arm by one of the slugs, with another already having a hold on his right leg, and as he slashes at them with his machete, another rises up behind him and attaches to his head. It slowly engulfs his head entirely with its mouth and you can hear his muffled screams as he's devoured from all sides, which is really disturbing.



Jimmy, helping Denham fight off insects, pulls a Tommy gun out of a nearby bag and loads it with the intent of helping Jack, who's being covered by weta again. With precision-shooting, he manages to shoot the weta off without hitting Jack, while Denham is almost completely covered by the marauding bugs nearby. Jimmy continues to shoot the weta off Jack, telling him to stop moving, and after a gruesome cutaway out of a couple of spider creatures fighting over and pulling apart a dead body, he manages to shoot off all but one of the weta, having to stop to fend off something else that pops up behind him, while Denham does the same with another beetle creature. One of the last weta on Jack is on top of his face, biting at him, and Jimmy manages to shoot it off, doing the same with one attached to his leg. Jimmy, however, is now out of ammo and he, Jack, and Denham are still vastly outnumbered, as more and more bugs crawl down the walls toward them. But then, the sound of gunfire is heard and they look up to see Englehorn and some other men firing down at the monsters from the edge of the chasm. He tells them to stay away from the walls, as Bruce Baxter swings through the chasm on a rope, gunning down every bug that he sees.


A peaceful scene between Ann and Kong follows, as he takes her up to his mountain lair, walking past some skeletons of his own kind in the tunnel that leads up to the edge of the cliff. Climbing up there, he gently takes Ann off his shoulder and puts her down, walking over to the edge and sitting down. Walking around the side of him to look at his face, Ann sees that he's in a sad, melancholic mood, and smiles at him as she comes around, trying to cheer him up. That doesn't work, as he just turns his head away from her, and, trying to entertain him again, she picks up some small rocks and starts juggling, skillfully tossing them through her legs at the same time. This does catch his attention and he turns his head to look at her, but when their eyes meet, he just lets out a bored yawn, as if to say, "Seen it." That prompts her to drop everything, and almost lose her balance as she was bending backwards at the end there, to notice that he's watching the sun set in the horizon. She comments that it's beautiful and, after watching it for a little bit, she emphasizes the word "beautiful." He looks down at her upon hearing this and she gestures over heart while saying it again. He turns his head away again and, as she looks at him, he opens his left hand again, giving her permission to crawl into it, which she does. The two of them just sit there and continue watching the sunset.


While everyone else goes back with Englehorn, continues hiking into the island interior, determined to find Ann. A cut back to Kong shows that it's now nighttime and she's fallen asleep while being cradled in his arm. As he looks down at her, he starts to becoming sleepy himself, while in the cave behind, a huge swarm of big, bat-like creatures begins to stir. Jack is then seen cautiously climbing his way up the tunnel, around the bones, and up onto the ledge, his presence stirring up the bats. Reaching the top, he sees Kong sprawled out along the ledge, asleep. Jack works his way around the ape, being as quick and quiet as he can, and finds Ann sleeping in his other hand. Getting close, he quietly calls to her, which rouses her, and, when they see each other, Ann is shocked, while Jack smiles at her and motions for her to be quiet and come on. Reluctantly, not sure what to do, Ann then reaches for Jack's hand, but just as they touch, Kong's eyes snap open. He immediately tightens his grip around Ann and pulls her away from Jack, as she yells at him to run. Kong tries to smash him with his other hand, roaring angrily, and this stirs up the bats as he runs at Jack, trying to pound him again. Kong is attacked by the bats and tries to fight them off, swiping at them and turning in circles, while continuing to try to kill Jack. He gets overwhelmed by the bats, some of which try to go for Ann, and he continues to struggle with them, tearing one's wing off his teeth, falling to the ground on his side and having to let go of Ann. She and Jack try to reunite but Kong, in his struggles, inadvertently blocks them constantly, until Jack runs between his legs and manages to get to her. Assuring her that it's okay, Jack and her run to the edge of the cliff, maneuvering around Kong, and he grabs a large vine and coaxes her into climbing onto his back, as they begin making their way down. Kong continues fighting off and ripping up the bats, running circles around the ledge, and some of them begin diving at Jack and Ann on the vine. To make matters worse, the vine is suddenly pulled back up to the cliff and they see that Kong is hoisting them back up. He also pulls them to the top, when Jack manages to grab onto the wing of a nearby bat, which flies off with them. Kong watches helplessly, unable to do anything, and lets out a furious roar while stomping his fists into the ground. Seeing them fall off the bat and into a large stream, he lets out a roar that's loud enough for Denham, Englehorn, and everyone else waiting back at the village to hear. They know what it means.




Jack and Ann are washed down the river, while Kong charges through the jungle as fast as he can to catch up to them. The two of them run for the wall, hearing Kong not far behind them, but when they reach the edge, they find that the bridge hasn't been lowered. The two of them yell for help but when they get no response, Ann thinks that they've left. With Kong quickly approaching in the jungle behind them, Jack yells for Denham, who's waiting for the right moment to lower the bridge, ignoring Preston's pleading for him to do it. After waiting a few more moments, and hearing Kong getting closer, Preston grabs the machete out of a sailor's hand and cuts the rope, getting slashed on the face by it as it goes up and drops the bridge. It hits just as Kong bursts out of the jungle, and Jack and Ann run for it across it. Kong charges and jumps across the chasm, reaching the side of the wall and climbs along to the door to begin punching his way through, as Jack and Ann run through the openings in it. Kong smacks away the spears and punches at the door, while Jack and Ann find everyone waiting with guns, ropes with hooks, and big bottles of chloroform. She puts two and two together, as Kong smashes through the door and lands amongst them. Surveying the scene, he doesn't have a chance to react before he's snagged on his right arm and on the back by the hooked ropes. He struggles to get free, when Englehorn throws a bottle of chloroform down on the ground below his head. The men try to pull him down to get his face into the gas, with two up above dropping a large net weighted by big, heavy rocks onto him, and this is enough to drag his face down towards the gas. Unable to bear this, Ann tries to stop Englehorn from throwing another bottle and Jack has to restrain her, the captain telling him to get her out of Kong's sight. He throws the bottle underneath Kong's head again, but when he sees Ann struggling and fighting with Jack as he tries to force her down the path, he becomes enraged and gets the strength to fling his body up, sending those holding the ropes attached to his arm flying. He breaks free of the net and sends the others holding him down flying as well. Englehorn orders them to kill him, arguing with Denham over this, but when Kong swings his arm at the men in front of them, sending them sailing off, they all decide to retreat, as he pulls hard enough to yank a rock out of the wall and fling a couple of more guys off.






Ann, Jack, and everyone else run into the cove, heading for the boats, with Kong not too far behind them. Two men stay behind and shoot at him, but he smashes them against the wall, continuing his pursuit. Ann is forced into one of the lifeboats, pleading that she's the one he wants, as all of the men frantically try to stow everything away and row back from the shore. Jimmy, wanting revenge for Hayes' death, stands on the shore and aims a Tommy gun at Kong, with Jack trying to pull him back, as the ape pushes a large stone out of his way. Everybody gets into the boats, save for a lone sailor who shoots Kong at point-blank range, only to get grabbed, have his head chomped, and tossed away. Kong jumps into the shallows, as Ann silently pleads for him to go back, and as he approaches the front lifeboat, Denham grabs some chloroform and is about to throw at him. Jimmy, up front, fires on Kong, enraging the ape and prompting him to slam the bow of the boat, sending Denham flying into the water behind him. Kong then grabs the boat and flings into the wall to his right, smashing it to pieces and sending everyone flying. Ann watches from the other boat as Jack helps Jimmy in the water, while Kong focuses attention on the boat with her in it. Englehorn, up front, prepares a harpoon gun, telling everyone to keep the struggling Ann off of her, and fires it, hitting Kong in his right thigh. He screams in pain and holds onto his leg, but continues crawling towards them, as Denham climbs up onto some nearby rocks. Seeing Englehorn loading another harpoon, he tells the captain to wait but he prepares to shoot anyway, as Ann continues to plead him not to. Denham gets up alongside Kong's head and when he turns to look at him, he gets a bottle of chloroform to the face. This does it, as he's quickly overcome by the chemicals, despite his efforts to brush it off and continue crawling into the shallows. Ann tearfully watches as he begins to weaken and drop down to his knees and shoulders. He reaches for her, whining and squealing, asking for help, and all she can do is cry and look away helplessly. He finally succumbs to the chloroform and loses consciousness, resting his head on a rock, while Ann tearfully looks at Jack in the water nearby. Denham walks up to Kong's body and proclaims, "The whole world'll pay to see this. We're millionaires, boys. I'll share it with all you. In a few months, his name will be up in lights on Broadway: Kong, the Eighth Wonder of the World!"

As in the original, Kong's Broadway debut initially goes off without a hitch, as he's unveiled to a gasping audience, chained by his hands, feet, and around his waist (what's funny is that, if you watch some of the people in the orchestra who have their backs turned to the stage, their turn heads and, upon seeing him, are like, "Holy shit!") Denham assures the audience that it's perfectly safe, telling them that the chains are made of chrome steel, and then shocks them by putting his hand on Kong's arm, right above his wrist. Kong's hand then jerks a little bit, startling him and giving the audience a laugh, but otherwise, he seems to be completely broken, as he doesn't struggle at all. Denham then motions for some men backstage to raise Kong's hands up with the chains as high as they can, prompting more applause from the audience, and Denham then announces that there's a surprise guest in the auditorium: the man who hunted Kong down to save Ann. Jack happens to have arrived at the theater and initially believes that Denham is referring to him, only to be surprised when he instead brings out Bruce Baxter, who's dressed in an old-fashioned safari getup. Jack can only scoff at this, as the show built around Kong begins, with people dressed up as natives dancing around Baxter and makeshift stone staircases are wheeled in. Jack, along with Preston, continues to watch this, the two of them commenting on the mockery Denham is putting Kong through, while the poor ape just continues sitting there, looking more depressed than ever. Denham then announces that they've come to the climax of the ritual, the sacrifice of a beautiful girl, and then introduces "Ann Darrow." A large, bridal altar rises out of the stage in front of Kong, with a blonde woman tied to it. When he sees this, he begins to stir and looks down at the woman, huffing and grunting, thinking it's Ann. But when she looks up, she's revealed to be a stand-in, and it makes Kong recoil with a disgusted look on his face. He's even less happy when she starts screaming upon the show continuing, as he begins to struggle and roar at her. The audience gasps at this but then applauds, and Jack is told by Preston that Ann turned down every offer Denham made for her to be a part of this. (Leading up to the girl's reveal, Jackson and his editor had done some nice editing to make you think Ann was there, by intercutting shots of her in a dressing room and backstage while Jack was talking earlier, but here, it's revealed that she was actually getting ready to join a chorus line elsewhere.)





Kong's anger is fueled even more when photographers begin taking pictures of Baxter and Denham from backstage, the flashbulbs causing him to recoil in irritation. Seeing the danger that's brewing, Jack tells Preston that they have to get the patrons to leave, but nobody listens, while Kong gets more and more irritable at everything around. Denham dismisses it, saying, "Let him roar. It makes a swell picture," but he takes it seriously as Kong, now completely out of control, struggles violently in the chains and the girl begins to panic and scream for real. Ever the coward, Baxter quickly ducks backstage, and it proves to have been a smart move, because Kong breaks his right hand loose. People in the audience, in the orchestra, and on stage panic and clamor for the exits, as he lets out a loud roar, grabs the woman, and tosses her off to the right. Denham watches from backstage as that action horrifies everyone, as they really make a mad dash for the exit, and Kong, after freeing his other hand, jumps free of the other chains, down into the orchestra. He lands right on top of one hapless guy and swings his arms at the people running in the stands, sending them and the chairs flying. People pour of the theater in panic, while inside, Kong grabs a large instrument and throws it at the wall. He then looks up in the second level of the theater and sees Jack. Glaring at him maliciously, remembering that he took Ann away from him, Kong charges up the aisles at him, grabbing onto the right wall and jumping onto the level to get after him. The edge of it crumbles from the impact and his weight but he's able to climb his way up and almost gets Jack, but he ducks down a flight of stairs leading to the exit that's way too small for him. Denham stands on the stage in shock, while Kong bursts through the wall of the theater and bounds off of the marquee, right in the middle of Times Square. This causes a panic both on the sidewalks and in the streets. A car, trying to miss him, hits his right arm as it flies past him, and Kong slips and slides along the road, confused and agitated by all the commotion around him. Jack watches from nearby as a car collides with two others behind Kong, causing him to back up onto the sidewalk, while another car crashes into a newspaper stand. Kong becomes enraged and flings one car up into the air, which lands behind Jack, and a wide-shot shows Kong slide against a bus, slide back and nearly trip over a car behind him, and then run across the streets, only to hit a truck that enters the intersection. Kong finally finds a spot where there's nothing to run into and stops for a breath, watching the people running, when he hears the sound of a woman screaming. Following the source, he runs to a blonde woman near some stairs leading to a shelter and scoops her up. Seeing that it's not Ann, he puts her down and looks around frantically, panicking at not being able to find her. Hearing another scream, he chases down another blonde woman running down the sidewalk, only to see that she isn't Ann either and toss her away.





Watching him from afar, Jack realizes he has to do something, as Kong flips a taxi cab in anger, nearly hitting some people with it, and flips another taxi in his way as he chases after another blonde woman. This isn't Ann, either, and as he looks around, he backs up against a trolley, which he takes his frustration out on, smashing its roof, punching it, and smashing his hand inside of it. Elsewhere, Ann runs out of her theater, hearing the commotion, and when she sees a poster for the exhibition lying in the road, she realizes what's happening. Seeing military vehicles round a bend up ahead, she runs down the sidewalk to try and reach Kong. Back in Times Square, Jack flags down a taxi, telling the driver they've got to draw Kong off as he gets in, only for the driver to abandon the vehicle in a panic. With Kong flinging the bus back and forth nearby, Jack has no choice but to take the wheel himself. He backs up over a curb and drives towards Kong, plowing through a fruit-stand, as the ape continues grabbing at people inside the trolley and bashing the top of it. Jack drives the taxi between Kong's legs, as he slams the trolley down off to the side, and swings the car around so he can see him. Once he does, he immediately drops the trolley, glaring at Jack, and stomps towards him. Jack throws the cab into reverse at full throttle, with Kong charging at him, flipping a truck and smashing other cars out of his way. Jack gets the opportunity to swing the car around and drive forwards, with Kong keeping up with him, slamming cars out of his way and throwing one at Jack's cab. Jack rounds the corner, heading down another street in the wrong direction, dodging cars, and drives up onto the sidewalk. Kong chases him onto the sidewalk, smashing a plethora of marquees, signs, and other objects to pieces, grabbing onto the side of the building and jumping off towards Jack. The chase proceeds beneath an elevated train track, Jack swerving the car back and forth, having to dodge vehicles and people in his way. Kong manages grab the top of the windshield from behind and tears open the roof, but Jack speeds away from him. He rounds a corner and drives down an alleyway, easily squeezing through it and out the other side, while Kong has to awkwardly skirt his way through it. He gets stuck momentarily at the end of it but shows his way out and continues the chase, running after Jack, sliding into some cars, and chasing him along the sidewalk. He manages to grab the side of a building and jump ahead of Jack, but he falls and misses him, as he drives off underneath more elevated tracks. However, Kong manages to get ahead of him again and this time, Jack is unable to stop. Kong slams the cab with his fist, flipping it over, and it lands on its back tires and falls forward. Jack is knocked unconscious, while Kong beats his chest and roars ferociously at him.






As he looks at Jack, though, Kong's expression slowly softens as he appears to catch a scent and he turns to look down the street. He sees the silhouette of a woman slowly walking towards him down the middle of the road and he takes a few cautious steps forward before backing up a bit and shaking his head, remembering the times he was fooled. She then gets close enough for him to see that it is Ann and he walks up to her, the two of them reuniting in the middle of the street. They never take their eyes off each other, as Ann walks up to him and touches the hair on his wrist. Taking the hint, he picks her up and lifts her to his face, which she rubs while he inhales her scent. Their moment is broken when Kong snarls at the sound of approaching sirens and slowly walks off down the deserted street with her. What follows is a scene that people either like or think is pointless and sappy; it's when the two of them head into Central Park, which is full of trees that are decorated for Christmas, and end up on a frozen pond. Kong steps onto the ice and immediately finds it hard to keep his balance and slides around. He tries to take a step and slips, and it happens again as he comes very close to losing his balance. At first perplexed, he then chuckles, prompting Ann to giggle, and sits down and slides backwards. He slides around in circle after circle, clearly enjoying himself, as is Ann, and continues to do so for a while. At one point, he even steps up on the bank and slides directly across the width of the pond, and when he tries to get up when he reaches the other bank, he slips and falls on his back into the snow. Ann squeals in delight and Kong gets up and shakes the snow off of him. While I could understand why some would find it pointless and an excuse to pad the movie out even more, I enjoy seeing Kong get another peaceful scene with Ann, after everything he's been put through recently, and it makes the tragedy to come all the more powerful. Plus, it's a nice respite from all the action. I'll admit, I don't know how that ice could possibly hold his weight, but whatever. It's a nice moment.





Suddenly, the center of the pond explodes and Kong is thrown forward towards the bank. We then see that the military is attacking, as another shell is fired at the ape, but it misses, hitting the spot behind him, and he's able to climb onto the solid ground and run for it. Heading back into the streets, Kong is chased by a military vehicle, as the men on it fire a mounted machine gun at him, and soon comes across a building that's under construction. He climbs up and jumps along the steel beams, which provides him with some cover from the gunfire, and he then jumps to the side of a nearby building and jumps from it to a rooftop across from it. Another military vehicle chases him, firing missiles from the street, one of which hits the top of a building behind him, but Kong is able to hop across another rooftop, turn to the right, and make another jump, now heading for the Empire State Building. The military continue shooting at him, and Jack comes running out of an alley to keep up with the vehicles. Kong is now well on his way to climbing up the Empire State Building, as spotlights down below keep him sight, and he soon reaches the ledge around the base of the building's spire. He sits down in a corner for a rest and, looking at Ann in his hand, grunts at her as if, like my late aunt said when we watched the movie one time, he's trying to talk to her. She smiles at him, when he looks up to the right and makes a stunned expression when he sees the sun rising off in the distance. Amazed at the sight, he taps the side of his chest with his other hand, and Ann realizes that he's telling her it's beautiful, just as she showed him back on the island. She agrees that it is beautiful and he looks at her solemnly while appearing to nod... when a squadron of six fighter planes fly past the building in a triangle formation. Kong growls and huffs at this sight, watching as they come back around, splitting off into pairs of three. When they fly past him again from the other direction, he realizes that they're a threat and lets out a snarl before sitting Ann down on the ledge. He stands up and roars and bleats at them, warning them to stay away, and Ann runs up behind his left arm. The pilot in the lead plane motions at the others with his arm and fingers and they then fly directly at Kong in a long line. Kong roars at them and pushes Ann into the corner, knowing that this is going to be a fight. He begins climbing up to the very top of the building, when the attack begins as they swoop down towards him and fire on him when he's halfway up. The bullets hit right above him and he loses his grip in surprise and falls a short distance, managing to grab onto the side of the spire. Ann dodges big shards of broken glass and Kong is clipped from behind by other planes as they fly by. He jumps up to dodge more bullets, almost reaching the top, and swinging around the side of it when another plane comes in for a go. He then quickly climbs up to the very top of the building, knocks away the radio antenna up there, stands up on his hind legs, and lets out a mighty roar while beating his chest, challenging them to take their best shots.






Kong goes back to his normal standing position, while Ann sees a ladder leading up to the top and begins climbing as quickly as she can. The planes then swoop down at him from above in formation, the leader firing when gets close and hitting Kong in the torso. Clutching his chest and yelping in pain, Kong looks at the blood that's now on his fingers and realizes that these foes are serious. Looking back up, he swipes at each one of them as they fly by but he misses all of them. He waits for them to come in for another pass and shields himself with his arm as he's struck by bullets from the nearest plane. However, the plane gets too close and Kong is able to jump up and smash off the lower part of its right wing, although he almost slips and falls, having to hang onto the tip. The plane falls apart as it plummets to the ground and Kong stands up and beats his chest while roaring, as another plane comes in and fires at him. He tries to get it but misses, with the rear gunner firing at him some more as they fly away. The planes fly back up and come in for another pass, Kong swiping at them but unable to reach as one comes by and fires at him, as a wide shot shows them all buzzing around the top of the building in various directions. Down on the ground below, Jack pushes past the point near the building where the civilians aren't allowed and runs past some guardsmen, making it into the lobby. He runs around the corner and makes it to the elevator, pushing the bottom that takes it up to the roof, and kicks a soldier when he tries to stop him. Back up top, a plane flies at Kong and fires on him going right over his head, the ape missing it by just a few feet. Ann continues the long climb up the ladder, while Kong is still missing the planes that whizz by him and almost falls when he leans out to try to get one that flies by very close. He then watches as all of them converge on him from above at various angles. Ann has nearly reached the top, when Kong jumps down in order to dodge one plane that rears itself right at him while firing, grabbing onto the rim of the observation platform. Another plane swoops in and fires at him, breaking the glass off the platform and causing him to lose his grip. He grabs onto one of the sections of wall between the windows but it bends backwards from his weight. Below him, some stray bullets hit the ladder's anchors above Ann, causing it to come loose and slowly fall backwards. She hangs onto one of the rungs for dear life, its rocking back and forth from the weight making it hard for her to keep her grip, and Kong sees what's going on and reaches for the ladder. Ann loses her grip and falls, with Kong having to lean out as far he can in order to catch her. He climbs back up a little bit and places her safely inside the observation deck. The two of them look at each other for a few brief moments, when Kong is attacked again, bullets ripping through the windows, and forcing him to maneuver along the side of the building to dodge them. The plane chases him around the building several times, as Ann runs along with him in the observation deck, trying to keep him in sight, and reaches the ladder that leads to the roof. Kong then climbs back on top, manages to grab the marauding plane's left wing, and swings it around in a circle before letting it go, watching as it crashes into another plane in mid-air.





The exertion and the injuries he's sustained, however, begin to take their toll, as he slumps down on top of the building. Ann runs outside onto the walkway below the cone and looks up at him, their eyes meeting as he slowly stands back up, snorting and puffing at her, and turns around. She quickly climbs up to join him, as he tiredly looks at the three remaining planes coming back around in the distance. As they approach, Ann reaches the top of the cone, as Kong stands up and beats his chest while letting out another roar, this one clearly desperate and defiant more than anything else. She runs underneath him, stopping between his arms, and waves them off while yelling at them to stop. The lead pilot sees this, and Ann is brought to tears as she screams at them, while Kong continues to beat his chest and roar. All three of them fly by without taking a shot, and Kong falls to his knees, picking up Ann and looking at her. His legs give out and slump to either side of the cone, and he tries to stand but slumps back down, far too weak. He puts her down on the cone, trying to support himself with what strength he has left, and she stands and reaches to caress his upper lip. They stay like this for a few quiet moments, when he suddenly bristles from being shot many times in the back by a plane that passes over his head. With that, Kong's body hangs completely off, with only his head lying on the cone. Ann crawls over to him, stopping between his hands, and caresses her cheek against the fingers on his right one. As she watches, his breathing slows and he takes one last breath before his pupils dilate and he stops moving. Ann cries, knowing he's dead, and his hand slips out from underneath her, followed by his limp body as it falls off, an aerial view showing it slowly tumble to the street below, as the planes pass by. Ann stands up and looks down, in shock, when Jack climbs up to the top of the cone behind her. When she turns around and sees him, they look at each other for a few moments before embracing. On the street below, people gather around Kong's body, trying to get a look at it, while reporters take pictures of it, with two brazen enough to climb up onto the belly before being forced off by a soldier (that comes from King Kong '76, by the way) and, in a very nauseating sight, one takes photos of three soldiers standing in front of the body, holding their guns as if they're the ones who did it. One reporter asks, "Why'd he do that? Climb up there and get himself cornered? The ape must've known what was comin'," when another responds, "It's just a dumb animal. It doesn't know nothin'." Denham pushes through, looking at the body in shock, as the latter reporter comments, "What does it matter? Airplanes got him." Denham then says to himself, "It wasn't the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast," realizing what he's done. With that, the movie ends on him walking off into the crowd and the camera pulls back on the sight of the fallen Eighth Wonder of the World surrounded by onlookers and photographers.

It's amazing to think that James Newton Howard didn't become involve with the film until less than two months before it was to be released, because the score that he created is absolutely perfect for it. It's a grand, majestic, sweeping score that perfectly captures all of the facets of the King Kong story: bigger than life, mysterious and wondrous, dark and scary, soft and sweet, and sad and tragic. I think I can safely say that it's my favorite score of any Kong movie. The main theme, which you first hear during the opening credits, is the piece that I would describe as mysterious and wondrous and it has two distinct versions: one that starts really low and grows to a loud, "Dun... dun... dun...", when the title, King Kong, appears, and another that's longer and even more majestic-sounding, accentuating the power of what you're about to see. Similarly, Kong himself has two themes, although they both start with a soft, reverberating sound that builds and builds: one, which you when he first appears, is menacing and scary, while the other, which you hear when he defeats the last V-Rex, crescendos into a mighty piece and then transitions into a more wondrous section that compliments what an amazing creature he is after he's triumphed. Ann's theme is a very soft, gentle piano piece that hints at both her kindness and the strife and bad luck she's experienced in her life, and it also becomes theme for the scenes between her and Kong, particularly the ice pond scene, where it builds into a very whimsical and magical theme that goes well with that moment. There's a similarly poignant theme played on flutes that you hear when you see the skeletons of Kong's ancestors that suggests the tragedy and loneliness of his character. I also really like the innocent, exotic sounding piece during the scene where Hayes explains Jimmy's backstory to Jack in the Venture's hold and when he reprimands Jimmy on deck in the following one. It makes this film feel all the more like a magical fantasy. The insect pit scene is scored with a distant, eerie-sounding theme that's never overly horrific or fast-paced and works well with how skin-crawling and alien that part is. Speaking of which, there is plenty of exciting, driving music during the action scenes that'll get your adrenaline pumping, particularly during the V-Rex sequence and the climactic plane battle, the latter of which feels very much like an epic war between man and beast. Finally, you have the music that always sticks with me whenever I think of this movie, which is this sad-sounding piece that you hear when it becomes clear that Kong is done for at the end. It has the distant sound of a woman vocalizing and singing, which becomes the only thing you hear when Kong's body slips off the Empire State Building, and transitions into this sweeping, poignant piece which incorporates the wondrous bit from the V-Rex defeat I mentioned earlier and then leads into this very touching mixture of strings and soft piano, really hitting home that the last of a magnificent species of animal is now gone. When I listened to that piece on YouTube for the first time in a while not too long ago, I actually got a little choked up and could feel tears forming, as I'd forgotten just how powerful it is. What else I can say other than it is the music of King Kong to me, right up there with Max Steiner's original score?

In addition to using pieces of Steiner's score for the presentation scene and at the very end of the credits, there are also a couple of period songs on the soundtrack. The opening montage of Depression-era New York is set to Al Jolson singing I'm Sitting on Top of the World, which is a very jovial song that clashes with the hard times we see people going through, especially since he's singing about not needing anything other than what he has. And during the presentation scene, when it's revealed that Ann isn't there as we were led to believe and is instead in a chorus line, Peggy Lee is heard singing Bye-Bye, Blackbird, a melancholy tune which fits well with the bad turn that her life, as well as Jack's and especially Kong's, has taken.



As he did with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson put out an extended edition of King Kong, in a big, 3-Disc DVD set, which I bought in 2007, mainly for the big, making-of documentary on the third disc, which wasn't on the two-disc of the theatrical version (before, while you could get both versions on Blu-Ray, you could only get the documentary on that DVD; now, though, there's a Blu-Ray that has everything and more on it, which is nice). I've only watched the extended version once, I thought the movie was perfectly fine, and extended enough, in its theatrical version. The most memorable scene in it to me is a recreation of the raft scene from the original, where the party is attacked by bugs called scorpio-pedes, which are centipedes with scorpion-like stingers (they appear in the video game as well), and a big, eel-like fish called a Piranhadon, which devours several of them. The scene also reiterates how Denham is more concerned about his camera than the lives of those around him and he also shoots apart their raft while trying to kill the creature. There's also a scene early on when the party begins their search where they're attacked by that Ferrucutus dinosaur I mentioned earlier, which kills a few people before Hayes brings it down with his Tommy gun (when someone says, "I thought these things were supposed to be extinct," Lumpy comments, "They are now), another where Lumpy, in his jumpiness, accidentally mortally wounds an ostrich-like creature called a Moa Bird, and a moment during the third act where a general, riding in a truck with his men, proclaims, "Listen up. This is New York City, and this is sacred ground. You hear me? It was built for humans, by humans. Not for stinking lice-infested apes. The thought of some mutant gorilla crapping all over the streets of this fair city fills me with disgust. So this is how it's going to be: We find it. We kill it. We cut its ugly head off and we ram it up...", when Kong runs right over them. Other than those, I don't remember much about the extended version and while some of those scenes are cool, I can understand why they were left on the cutting room floor initially, as they're ultimately unnecessary and pad the movie out even longer than it already is.

Whew, that was a lot of work, and I knew it would be, but it was worth it, because I feel that Peter Jackson's King Kong is very akin to the original in that it's a truly spectacular and moving piece of escapist cinema. With an enormous scope and feeling of spectacle, a stellar, well-acted cast, sophisticated, cutting edge effects that bring time period, the world of Skull Island, and the creatures to breath-taking life, thrilling action sequences and setpieces, a well-defined, complex characterization for King Kong himself, a majestic, sweeping score that hits all the right notes, and, most importantly, a big heart that's firmly in the right place, it's a prime example of what movies are made for. Aside from some corny, overdone pieces of dialogue, some fat during the first act that could have been trimmed, and some occasional missed opportunities, it's a movie that I have no problems with and always enjoy sitting through. I think what I love and appreciate most about it, though, is that it's such a sincere love-letter from a great director to the movie that drove him to become the truly remarkable and inspirational person that he is. I think this message at the end of the movie's credits sums it up best: "This film is dedicated with love and respect to the original adventurers of Skull Island: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack, Willis H. O'Brien, Max Steiner, Robert Armstrong and... the incomparable Fay Wray. They continue to inspire all those who follow in their footsteps." Enough said.