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Still shot from the movie: King Kong.

King Kong

Director Peter Jackson helms this remake of the famous Empire State Building-climbing ape. It's an enormous project in every way -- from the size of its title character to its 187 min-long runtime. Get the movie review and more. »

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Overall: B
Violence: D+
Sexual Content: A-
Language: B-
Drugs/Alcohol: B-
Run Time: 187
Theater Release: 13 Dec 2005
Video Release: 27 Mar 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13
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Tackling Tolkien's Lord of the Rings was a gargantuan project, but now Director Peter Jackson has taken on the mammoth task of remaking King Kong. Fortunately, the award-winning Jackson has both the talent and the technology to pull off the huge feat, updating the Monster-in-Three-Acts storyline while maintaining the flavor of the original production.

Relying on advances in computer-generated images, the animators attached over a hundred sensors to the face of Andy Serkis (who also plays Lumpy the Cook in the film) in order to capture even minute facial movements for King Kong. The end result allows Jackson to breath life and personality into the 25-foot ape and to build a tender, almost romantic rapport between the gorilla and his human captive. Original moviemakers could never have hoped to catch this kind of emotion with their stop-motion puppet

In the picture, Jack Black plays an over-ambitious filmmaker that dreams of making the ultimate adventure movie. As Carl Denham, he has a reputation for being a flagrant self-promoter who stiffs both his creditors and the local police. In his possession is a mysterious map pointing to an uncharted island somewhere near Sumatra. It's there he is headed with his camera crew, a conscripted playwright (Adrien Brody) and the lovely Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts)--a Vaudeville actress whose career has experienced a Depression-era slump.

Their destination, known as Skull Island, also has a legendary reputation among the classic cast of 1930's sailors who man the appropriately named tramp steamer, The Venture. From other seamen, they've heard ominous tales of a 100-foot wall and mythical creatures. Once on shore, those sinister accounts come to life when hideous looking natives attack the group in a bloody ambush and capture Ann for a sacrificial gift to the beast living on the other side of the wall.

Unwilling to abandon her to an unsavory destiny, a selection of shipmates head into the jungle, with Carl and his cameraman in tow. However, everything on this island is super sized and the body count burgeons as the men encounter predatory dinosaurs, gigantic cockroaches, enormous spiders and massive, mud-dwelling bloodsuckers that ingest one man right before his companions' eyes.

Ultimately, the crew captures the mighty Kong and transports him back to New York City, where Denham schemes up another moneymaking exploit by putting the ape on display for the city's rich and famous. But after watching the giant of the jungle take on a T-Rex, there is no question this abusive display is likely fated to end badly.

With repeated depictions of violent interactions as well as an extended runtime of 187 minutes, this film is more suited to older audiences. It also makes popcorn and drinks an almost mandatory requirement. Yet in the spirit of spectacular epics, this larger-than-life headliner is sure to be crowned as a King at the box office.

King Kong is rated PG-13: for frightening adventure violence and some disturbing images

Cast: Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody
Studio: 2005 Universal Studios

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About the Reviewer: Kerry Bennett

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