King Kong (2005)
The first is Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong coming hot on the heels of Return of the King. Jackson was never going to have more star power than this, and it’s a shame he didn’t save any of it for the Tintin movie. Starring Andy Serkis as the big ape, Naomi Watts as the damsel, and Adrien Brody as the cool dude, this movie showed just how much you could do with a giant green canvas and people pretending they’re getting torn apart by giant wetas. At the time, people were excited to find out where in New Zealand all these awesome bug pits were, the answer was: on a server farm somewhere at Weta Workshops. The movie is a homage to the original film and even added in scenes that were cut from the original. But its three hour runtime and lame city scene let down what could have been a true masterpiece.
Kong: Skull Island
Jordan Vogt-Roberts 2017 take on this iconic character comes in quite a different package from Jackson’s. It makes some obligatory hand waving at the start to attach itself to the Monster-verse it now shares with Godzilla (because now everything needs to be part of an extended universe, thanks Marvel) and quickly dives into a beautifully colour saturated romp through the jungle, set during the tail end of the Vietnam war. The entire thing is an anti-war film dressed up as Apocalypse Now with lines like, “Sometimes an enemy doesn’t exist until you go looking for one.” It gives a certain tension between the scientists and soldiers. The film is shorter and tighter, giving itself less time to drop the ball like its overblown counterpart. No T-Rex though, so make of that what you will. Personally still my favourite of the two. I’m aware I’m fighting the tide on that one.
Check out the trailer for the upcoming Kong vs Godzilla, in cinemas 25 March 2021: