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Movie Review: King Kong (2005)

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Directed by Peter Jackson
Screenplay by Fran Walsh & Phillippa Boyens & Peter Jackson
Story by Merian C. Cooper & Edgar Wallace

Film history is going be made with the release of King Kong (2005). Not only because it is the answer to the trivia question, “what is the best remake?” but also because Peter Jackson has made the film that is destined to become the new, worldwide box-office champ. It is everything that Titanic was and more. It’s filled with breath-taking action, thrilling adventure, marvelous special effects, yet at its core it succeeds where Titanic failed by creating believable characters and an amazing story that will tug at your heartstrings. Forget gay cowboys; this is a love story for the ages.

I don’t know how it’s possible, but for those that don’t know the story, producer, Carl Denham, puts together a film crew and sets out aboard a freighter to shoot on location on Skull Island, a mysterious tropical island. The film crew disembarks and begins shooting. The island isn’t as deserted as expected and the natives capture actress Ann Darrow and offer her up as a sacrifice to Kong, a giant ape, who becomes smitten with her. The crew rescues her, but some lose their lives in the process. Kong chases after the men to reclaim Darrow. With his film ruined, the enterprising Denham comes up with a way to salvage his losses. They capture Kong and bring him back to New York to put on display on Broadway. Kong breaks free and goes on a rampage. The doomed love affair ends tragically.

The 1933 version has attained legendary status. Jackson’s version is a loving tribute to that movie and movies in general. Jackson and his team pull out all the stops to create a film that is worthy and deserving to be called King Kong. It will become a legend as well because it excels in all areas of production.

Jackson takes his time with the story, establishing characters and relationships that the audience cares about. Kong doesn’t even appear until about 45 minutes in. The actors do a great job bringing these people to life; however, the best performance in the film is by Kong. He is brought to life in much the same way as Gollum in The Lord of the Rings. He is performed by Andrew Serkis and completed by a team of brilliant craftspeople and technicians.

I could go on ad infinitum praising all aspects of the film from the set and costumes that accurately capturing the look of the ‘30s to the excellent sound and editing, but everyone involved with the film’s production should be acknowledged, so stay and watch the entire list of credits. Don’t take my word for it; take the world’s. Everything positive you hear will be true. Anything negative is a lie by someone trying, and failing, to look cool.

King Kong is so good that not only will you want to relive the experience like a child racing back onto a roller coaster once he gets off, but you will want to bring everyone you know back with you because it needs to be seen in a theatre with an audience. The action scenes are exhilarating and so intense that they will leave you worn out emotionally and physically. Find the biggest screen and best sound system near you and see it there.

Jackson and his team have put everyone on notice on how to make a movie. And I don’t just mean the hacks whose parents are in the business or those that have garnered movie deals because they were able to complete a three-minute music video or a 30-second commercial. I’m talking the big boys and hot shots of Hollywood. Spielberg, Tarantino and especially Lucas are exposed for the frauds that they have become and taken to the woodshed.

This film has revealed two kings: Kong as the king of the jungle and Jackson as the king of directors. You will never see movies the same way again, and thankfully so.

El Bicho is a member of The Masked Movie Snobs.
ed: JH

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at
  • Triniman

    I believe repeat ticket sales help make Titanic so popular. It will be interesting to see if this film gets a lot of repeat sales. I’m looking forward to it and only wish that I can take it in at the Wednesday, 12:01 showing.

  • Mat Brewster

    I think I’m about the only one on the planet that has no desire to see this film. Hollywood has so underwhelmed me with its slew of crappy remakes that any desire to see one, even one made by a good director, has gone. It kind of irks me that Jackson is following up LOTR with a monkey movie.

    But maybe I’m wrong, maybe its fantastic. This review gives me a little hope of that.

  • Nancy

    You’re not alone, Matt; I also have a thundering lack of drive to see this … production. I don’t understand WHY the hell Jackson would waste his talent (& that of his actors & staff) on trash like Kong anyway; the story is lame. Even the original Kong was lame; so was the second. Is he trying to prove that this can be an un-lame film given the ‘right’ director & actors? Sorry – it can’t. It’s a lame, stupid story & premise, and JC himself couldn’t save it. I won’t even bother to see it for the sake of the remarkable Andy Serkiss, it’s that lame.

  • Matt Paprocki

    I really do love to see people ripping on Kong simply because it’s a “giant monkey movie,” yet praise the Lord of the Rings even with giant orcs and dragons. Both obviously make a lot of sense.

    Kong’s story has depth, and if anything was missing from the original, this was it. It was more concerned with blowing people away with the special effects, and that was fine. The message is there, just overshadowed. Jackson’s Kong deals with the underlying messages of civilization gone wrong, beatuty and the best, etc.

    There are already Oscar talks for Kong, from Naomi Watts to the obviously incredible special effects. Even if the film doesn’t deliver the message, if it’s just pure escapism entertainment, why is this a bad thing?

    Nancy, how you can you call the premise of Kong lame, yet seem to accept the Lord of the Rings with thousands of orcs battling amongst various locales? They’re films people (Peter Jackson’s favorite flick is the original Kong); they’re meant to take us with them and give us images we’ll never be allowed to see. Kong does that, and the ’33 version did that better than most of the creature features do today. Jackson’s version just keeps looking better, and through various “sneek peeks,” I’ve seen around 15 minutes of it and I simply can’t imagine a more visually intense film than this just based on that.

  • Zach

    I’m leaning in that (unenthused) direction as well. The original King Kong was a bland, boring colonialist tract of a film with a campy special effects ending and Fay Wray. At least on strength of the trailer, Jackson’s remake looks like more of the same grievous overuse of CG that made Return of the King his most underwhelming installment in the otherwise excellent LOTR trilogy. I’ll probably see it – a few of my friends are Peter Jackson fans to a ridiculous degree – but let’s just say my hopes aren’t high.

  • Christopher Rose

    I don’t feel the need to see this either, the clips look lame and it’s such a dumbass idea to start with.

    Free King Kong!

  • Nancy

    Matt: I don’t. I saw LOTR because I was interested in how Jackson would “translate” the book into a movie. IMO most of LOTR II & III were not very good: way too much violence & concentration on the battle scenes (catering to the young macho male audience), and changes in the LOTR Canon. Personally, I didn’t care for it, but that’s just my taste. But at least it had a STORY – and a decent one, with excellent characters, pseudo-history, languages, cultures, etc.

    Kong is about an oversized gorilla being sexually aroused by a human female, who then betrays him (or is betrayed into betraying him) to persons intent on exploiting him for filthy lucre.

    Now, I can understand the saga of an unusual ape being exploited for profit. I can even possibly swallow the theory that “primitives” would develop some kind of sacrificial religion around this animal – although why would be problematic, since gorillas are not only entirely vegetarian, but not terribly aggressive against humans, and therefore I can think of no logical reason why any group of humans would be inspired to provide “meat” for a creature that doesn’t eat it – as even the most superficial information search these days can show. Granted, back in the 30’s, such info was lacking. These days, we know better. So the sacrificial/violent motive of Kong is moot as well as just plain stupid & false.

    As for Kong’s affection for the human actress … well, suffice it to say I can understand a gorilla being smitten with lust & love for another gorilla (usually female?), but for a human – and one about the size of his pinky finger? Puh-leeze! This is obviously some kind of really sicko male sex fantasy, IMO.

    And I still think, special effect or not, Jackson was insane to touch it with a 10-foot pole. This is one movie that should have been laid to rest with #1, let alone a remake, let alone a second remake. What a waste.

    This is my opinion. Yours, obviously, is different. But I wonder how much of the “excellence” of this movie is due to Hollywood (or New Zealand) hype?

  • sr

    Just imagine a time without TV, have never seen a movie and its 1933. Your father takes you to see King Kong. Im not a movie goer however over the years have seen some great ones. This old man has been waiting for a Jackson type to bring me back to see KONG, THE EIGHTH WONDER OF THE WORLD. Cant wait. Saw the one remake from the 70s. It stunk.
    I do know some little boy or girl even in this age will be stuck on KONG. I will be happy and the little ones will be happy. Thats all that matters. All comments are interesting but for me I dont care. I care where the toilet paper is. Thats all and MERRY CHRISTMAS.

  • Yam

    I don’t really know what to say. Except that the movie was a very huge disappointment. When I saw the dinosaurs – I thought those were warning signs. KING KONG 2005 aka JURASSIC PARK IV. I had to leave the cinema way before even Kong was even able to leave Skull Island. I LOVE Peter Jackson, but with KING KONG, I want a divorce with the filmmaker!

  • Matt Paprocki

    You realize the original Kong had a ton of dinosaurs too, right? The brontosaurus chase, brief Stegasaurus rumble, Pterodactyl fight, and of course the T-Rex. Lots of dinos, something critical that was missing from ’76 travesty.


    I can even possibly swallow the theory that “primitives” would develop some kind of sacrificial religion around this animal – although why would be problematic, since gorillas are not only entirely vegetarian, but not terribly aggressive against humans, and therefore I can think of no logical reason why any group of humans would be inspired to provide “meat” for a creature that doesn’t eat it

    We don’t know why the natives worship him. We likely never will. I would assume that it would only take once visit from a 20 foot gorilla to their villiage before they change their minds about worshipping it.

    I never saw the sacrifice as food either. That’s why they take Ann in the first place. Kong likes woman. A lot of them probably never come back either, whether taken out by a T-Rex or eaten by a giant slug. Who knows?

    So the sacrificial/violent motive of Kong is moot as well as just plain stupid & false.

    Of course it’s not. He’s attacked. The woman he falls for is because of his basic instincts, is taken from him. He’s then shot at. Why wouldn’t he attack?

    As for Kong’s affection for the human actress … well, suffice it to say I can understand a gorilla being smitten with lust & love for another gorilla (usually female?), but for a human – and one about the size of his pinky finger?

    But hey, orcs and trolls battling oversized treess in some alternate universe, that makes perfect sense! Seriously, this isn’t meant to be believable, and if you can swallow one for entertainments sake, you have to be able to take some leaps for the next one. We don’t travel from planet to planet in X-Wings and battle Wookies, but damn if them there Star Wars flicks ain’t entertainin’.

  • Dave Nalle

    I can even possibly swallow the theory that “primitives” would develop some kind of sacrificial religion around this animal – although why would be problematic, since gorillas are not only entirely vegetarian, but not terribly aggressive against humans, and therefore I can think of no logical reason why any group of humans would be inspired to provide “meat” for a creature that doesn’t eat it

    First off, Gorillas are not vegetarian, they’re omnivores. The fact that the most studied Gorilla groups tend to eat predominantly vegetarian diets does not mean that they cannot and will not eat meat. Look at their teeth. Those are NOT the teeth of a vegetarian. Plus, even the supposedly ‘vegetarian’ Gorillas have a dietary need for higher protein food and eath grubs and insects just like most of the other great apes. Bugs are meat.

    Second, if a Gorilla were to grow to the enormous size of Kong virtually the only way it could have a functional metabolism would be to massively increase its protein intake, and the only way to do that would be to eat a lot more meat. Physiologically a high meat diet would not be a problem for a gorilla, so that adaptation would make perfect sense in a gorilla of that size.


  • Scott

    you guys take the fun out of everything. I’m just looking forward to seeing this movie. Tonight!

  • Dave Nalle

    But now you won’t be troubled over what the big ape is eating.

    I’m off to the noon show myself.


  • Mark Sahm

    “Those are NOT the teeth of a vegetarian.”: a good pitchline for every steakhouse in the country when you walk in the door.

    As for Jackson’s remake, it’s only inevitable that pre-movie hype transmogrifies many a person into standard non-conformists. Too bad they couldn’t have started this in limited release for a couple of months to build some true hype, rather than be bombarded with ads. Hell, I live in NY, and we had a f-ing King Kong lottery!

    In the end, just enjoy the flick for its re-adaptation and appreciation of classic American cinema. I’d like to check it out this weekend.

  • Nancy

    Dave, trust me when I assure you a gorilla that size, the only meat he’d be eating would be the dinosaurs – NOT a human comparable (to him) to an olive as far as protein content/nutritional needs goes. And considering the amount of roughage he’d also have to consume … his output would certainly be tremendous. Hmmm … maybe that’s why the primitive worship him?

  • Scott

    oh God, a thought occurs – I sure hope he doesn’t sling any of his poo around. It’s probably the size of a Dodge Neon or comparable compact car.

  • Mark Sahm

    Scott, disgusting yet hilarious idea! Write to Peter Jackson and tell him to put that on the DVD extras.

  • El Bicho

    What an open-minded bunch. If you think the first Kong was lame, then why shouldn’t it be remade? Plays are remade all the time. Should they stop that practice? Or how about covering songs? Should no artist be able to reintepret someone else’s work? I can’t get behind that. Lucas admits that “Star Wars” stole heavily from “The Hidden Fortress”. Have a problem with that?

    Kong (1933) set the standard for special effects in its day. To call it “bland” and “campy” shows a lack of ability to see works in their historical context. If not Kong, then what is the spfx milestone from that period? You’re probably going to find the editing of “Breathless” (1960) distracting, so I’d suggest you skip it.

    Nancy, you sound like Garry Shandling’s girlfriend, who upon seeing the iconic shot from “ET” with the boys flying across the moonlit sky on their bikes said, “Oh, that could never happen.”

    You act as if this a documentary and there are certain gorilla rules that must be followed. You are aware it’s a movie, right? Stories have their own logic. If you are too rigid to give into a story, that’s no one’s fault but yours.

    Also, you obviously have no idea what Kong is about. In neither movie do we see Kong sexually aroused and the human female doesn’t betray him although she is unknowingly used as bait. Kong doesn’t eat the sacrifices nor does he eat any human in the film although he might chomp on a couple, so your theory “is moot as well as just plain stupid & false.” If you think the story is “some kind of really sicko male sex fantasy,” then it sounds like you have some of your own issues to work out unrelated to the film.

    You are certainly entilted to your opinion, but since it is based on so many errors and misconceptions, it doesn’t hold much weight. Plus, you have yet to explain why it’s a waste. Because you don’t like the story? I’ll trust Jackson’s judgement over yours until I see a film you make.

    I do not believe Yam left in the middle of the film.

    There is no way a movie that costs about $200 mil is going to come out in limited release.

  • Alisha Karabinus

    I caught a little bit of the original the other night when it aired on television. I hadn’t seen it since childhood, when I couldn’t do what El Bicho is asking here, which is to put it into its historical context. Standing there in my bedroom, arms still full of clothes warm from the dryer, it really hit me — for 1933, this had to have been AMAZING. And how glorious to have been an early fan of film, to see these things before becoming so jaded that one is unable to appreciate anything fun or fantastical in film.

    I envy those people, the viewers who shepherded the first movies into history.

  • Zach

    To suggest I wouldn’t “get” Breathless because I found Kong a snoozefest is pretty rich. The first half of the movie is tribal stock footage and the racist/”hilarious” antics of a Chinese guy on the boat. The last 20 minutes or so (you know, the famous part) are quite cool, actually, and I didn’t mean to demean them by calling them “campy” – maybe I should have said “camp” instead, as I think it’s a general rule that everything touched by Ms. Wray must rank on the Camp-o-Meter. But don’t patronize me with your quasi-intellectual New Wave references. It’s just not that good a film…sorry.

  • Matt

    Saw King Kong today. This is, the LOTR trilogy notwithstanding, the best “Hollywood” movie in quite some time. Peter Jackson is a master at making epic films with small movie emotion. He’s a master. The movie gets 10 out of 10 for me. Loved it, squaredm cubed etc. Bicho is right on.

  • D

    Kong rocked, emotional, kick ass fight scenes, best cgi character ever…

  • QueenKong

    how in the world did king kong died of some stupid world war 1 bullets?! for pete’s sake, it’s not even world war 2 bullets yet, let alone 7.62mm bullets that u find in the modern guns nowadays! those bullets are midgets compared to what we have today! so how in the world did those things get past his thick body! there isn’t any real attempt (if those gunners ever did try) to hurt him! so i think he probably didn’t die of those bullets wounds (what wounds? i doubt any of it penetrated his body at all!). those blood that u saw on his body are probably from his broken heart!! hahahaha!

    godzilla died after being hit by several missiles from some F/A-18 hornets! poor king kong died becoz of some cheap duck shots! lame!

    he should’ve just ate the damn damsel! all of us saw his nest, where there were some leftovers of the previous sacrifices!

    one more thing, how in the world did the ground where king kong lay dead, remain intact after such a dramatic and heavy fall? it should’ve been seriously damaged, not accessible by the stupid onlookers. the way they stood and look at the fallen beast is like the ground was still even and intact! that doesn’t make sense, does it?

  • El Bicho

    “how in the world did king kong died of some stupid world war 1 bullets?!”

    He didn’t. “It was beauty killed the beast.”

    If you saw the nest, there were complete skeletons. Nice try.

    “the way they stood and look at the fallen beast is like the ground was still even and intact! that doesn’t make sense, does it?”

    Neither dies that sentence, so let’s call it a draw?

  • j.e.

    way off on this review. I saw it last night. It was laughable…and had significant racial undertones in it that were left unchecked and disturbing. The love scenes–where she juggles for instance–were plain stupid. I didn’t care about the other sub plot with the seamen–fairly interesting, but no character development. The graphics and digital animation were impressive but haven’t we seen that already with Jurassic park and 10 other movies? The only believable character was the producer/director played by jack black…but he became a minor character at the end of the film. so that was disappointing too. And the last line of the film he said was grammatically wrong. Titanic was a big, beautiful, romantic tragedy that had fewer characters, a concentrated timeline, and survival story based on a true life experience.

  • Jimmy James

    This is in regards to the comments about guns and bullets from WWI, WWII and today. The bullets fired from those biplanes in the first movie were 30.06 service rounds. The same 30.06 service rounds used in WWII Garand rifles and BAR machine guns.

    They are more powerful than the .308 cartridge that replacd it and far more powerful than the .223 rounds used in the SAW’s used by our military today. The military now using less powerful cartridges may not seem logical, but it is. The .223 cartridge is lighter meaning troops can carry more of them.

  • Jimmy James

    As to the movie, it was pretty good except the scenes near the end where Ann D. seemed to be in love with Kong. That was stupid.