Who's in It:
Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Andy Serkis, Jamie Bell, Kyle Chandler
The Basics: A very big ape gets kidnapped from his happy Skull Island home, dragged to New York and turned into a Broadway star. He then tries to escape to the Empire State Building with his girlfriend. This turns out badly for him.
What's the Deal? This movie is Brokeback Mountain for giant gorillas and their blonde, female life-partners. They experience idyllic getting-to-know-you romance in a remote wilderness location, they tell no one about their special bond (but people start figuring it out anyway), they have to fight major battles with hostile forces to keep their love from being destroyed and, in the end, they have to endure heartbreaking tragedy. If this had been a more politically progressive remake, Kong and Naomi would have been allowed to marry at the end.
How Long, Oh Lord? You've heard correctly. It's more than three hours long. And I think even Peter Jackson understands that a three-hour King Kong movie is a ridiculous idea. But it's three hours packed with awesome stuff like giant monster fighting, dinosaurs chasing and eating people, huge insects attacking Adrien Brody and biting off lesser characters' heads, and then, finally, sad-eyed, lovesick Kong biting it at the end. You get your money's worth and have a great time.
Deeper Meanings: Well, there are all sorts of references to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and there are plenty of people staring at the camera announcing just how serious and important it all is — "It's not just an adventure," says one of them, meaning both Heart and also this big, 190-minute epic — but honestly, it's mostly about the totally entertaining giant monster fighting.
Throwaway Reference to the Original: Early in the film, Jack Black complains that he can't get Fay (Wray) for his movie because she's "making a picture at RKO."
Hair vs. Scales: Kong battles a dinosaur that's giving him a headache, reinforcing the idea set forth in the original (and in King Kong vs. Godzilla) that monkeys and lizards are archenemies.