Big question: After completing the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, Peter Jackson apparently asked himself, "What can I direct that's a bit larger?" Can $200 million, three hours and a full arsenal of special effects make "King Kong" more fun than a barrel of monkeys?
Catch it: So gargantuan that it makes "Jurassic Park" look like "The Station Agent," "King Kong" is, for the most part, a chest-beating, banana-eating riot. It's a picture so big that it threatens to swing its way off the screen, yet you'll want to sit as close as possible, surrounding your senses with gigantic insects, ferocious dinosaurs and an ape's loud, bellowing call of love. (Naomi Watts plays the object of his affection, an entrancing classic beauty and shrieking damsel who takes a liking to the big lug.)
Skip it if: You're susceptible to second-hand whiplash. Being recklessly swung around by a gorilla as big as Rhode Island can't be good for the neck.
Bottom line: "King Kong" has plenty of old-fashioned sparkle and modern-day blockbuster bombast, yet it's so enormously action-packed that it stomps on attempts at passing itself off as a love story. (Would the video game "Rampage" make romance believable?) The effects--though more ambitious than seamless--are dazzling, but in scope and tone, this lengthy adventure sometimes makes you feel as if you're standing beneath the great Kong, marveling at the size of his foot just before being crushed beneath it.
Bonus: Good news for stressed out motorists: heavy traffic hits prehistoric beasts as well. (You haven't seen an accident until you've witnessed a 12-brontosaurus pile-up.)
Directed by Peter Jackson; screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Jackson, based on a story by Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace; cinematography by Andrew Lesnie; production design by Grant Major; music by James Newton Howard; edited by Jamie Selkirk and Jabez Olssen; special makeup, creatures and miniatures by Richard Taylor; senior visual effects supervised by Joe Letteri; produced by Jan Blenkin, Carolynne Cunningham, Walsh and Jackson. A Universal Pictures release; opens 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. Running time: 3:07. MPAA rating: PG-13 (for frightening adventure violence and some disturbing images)
Ann Darrow - Naomi Watts
Carl Denham - Jack Black
Jack Driscoll - Adrien Brody
Capt. Englehorn - Thomas Kretschmann
Preston - Colin Hanks
Lumpy/Kong - Andy SerkisCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times