Spectacular, clumsy, hilarious, ludicrously self-indulgent, terrifying and far too long, Peter Jackson's remake of the 1933 classic is a monster in every sense. Throwing economy to the winds, Jackson has staged the romance between struggling actress Naomi Watts and her giant gorilla as tragedy on a Shakespearian scale. It doesn't always work, but when it does, King Kong really is the eighth wonder of the world.
The original Kong lasts for a trim 100 minutes. In this version, it takes nearly that long before we even get to meet the title character. First we spend some time in a thrillingly recreated 30s New York, and then the film gets stuck in a boat for simply ages with obsessed movie director Carl Denham (Jack Black) and his crew. This interlude, marred as it is by portents of doom and clanging dialogue, is a bit of a trial.
Things improve when Denham and his explorers arrive on Skull Island, where they must survive all manner of digital dangers, from rampaging dinosaurs to an utterly repulsive swarm of giant insects.
Finally, Kong makes his entrance, and he's worth the wait. Jackson's team has created a marvellously expressive, menacing and tragic beast. In a film stuffed with superb performances - Watts, in particular, is wonderful - it's the monkey who deserves the Oscar.
If anything, there is too much action in Kong. The relentless chases and smackdowns start to grind after a while. Instead, the moments that stay with you are the quiet ones: beauty and her doomed beast, just hanging around and enjoying the view.