"King Kong" suffers the same two modern movie-making diseases that director Peter Jackson contracted to bloat his "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. They are too long, and they are overrun with special effects.
At least Jackson tried to create characters in "King Kong" that offered some sustaining interest, but as it turns out, the way he drew these characters only draws out a three-hour film. It would have been a crisper video game romp if it were kept to two hours.
Granted, once again, Jackson's special effects are impressive, most notably Kong himself, but there are too many frantically imaginative confrontations. I saw the 1933 version of "King Kong" for the dozenth time to prepare my willingness for a classic to make a memorable contemporary leap. I was actually surprised to be reminded of how jam-packed the original is with special-effects action.
What's the difference? Corny and thin as the original story is, the storytelling matters. In this 21st-century version, the storytelling muddles. In 1933, the story helped you presume the relationships and get on with the wide-eyed fun. This incarnation tries to have the tone and justification too many ways. On top of that, there seems to be a random commitment to the physics and capabilities of the creatures and people in this world. Suspension of disbelief is about as shallow as firing thousands of Xbox bullets at a parade of irrelevant enemies.
There are many scenes in the film with well-realized elements that go beyond special effects for the sake of special effects, including the opening Depression-era setting. There is one scene that I will simply refer to as the ice scene. However, the effective cuteness this scene accomplishes should have been in a completely different film.
People will flock to see "King Kong," and the majority of those it will satisfy are probably too technologically wound ("wowned") to appreciate that the original is the movie to recommend.