Can Peter Jackson's £200 million-plus, three-hour monkey opus deliver on the spectacle promised by a year's worth of online production diaries?
Well, yes and no.
Jackson is undoubtedly a cinematic visionary who more than deserved his armload of Oscars for The Return of the King. The lessons he and his WETA digital effects team learned on Middle-Earth are used to astounding effect here. In the main, the visual effects piss all over anything that Lucasfilm have ever come up with. Three key sequences – Kong versus a gang of bloodthirsty tyrannosaurs, Kong at large in depression-era New York and Kong scaling the Empire State Building – are nothing short of breathtaking, and (in the case of Kong romping through a frozen Central Park) sometimes even beautiful.
Sadly, no matter how inventive Jackson’s box of tricks is, he can’t disguise the fact that this movie is an overlong, steroid-laced remake of a bank holiday classic that just about everyone’s seen already. Nowhere near the triumph that the audacious Rings trilogy was – what could be? – this King Kong is nicely played, entertaining, creatively empty and ultimately rather pointless.
By Andrew Sumner