An update version of the original, Peter Jackson enhances the special effects and extends the plot with additional details. Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) is a vaudeville performer when her theater is shut down due to the low attendance of the great depression. Jack Denham (Jack Black) is a struggling director whose producers are ready to cut the funding. He searches out an actress stumbling upon Ann and offering her the opportunity of a lifetime. They board the vessel captained by Englehorn (Thomas Kretschmann) known for his ability to capture large animals. With Denham's assistant Preston (Colin Hanks) and the actor Bruce Baxter, the film crew escapes the producers headed towards a mysterious island that Denham claims to have found on a map. In this version, the hero Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody) is the screenplay writer.
The ship's crew is suspicious of Denham's plan and when Jimmy (Jamie Bell) overhears Jack and Carl discussing Carl island, he warns his fellow crewmate Haye (Evan Parke). Also part of the crew is Lumpy (Andy Serkis) who has heard tales of a mysterious island. Serkis also does the motion capture for King Kong, making the beast look especially real despite cartoonish special effects. The same story beats happen with more details as the crew crash on the island and encounter the natives. Jackson puts more of a horror spin on the proceedings as Ann Darrow is captured and sacrificed to the beast. The crew chase after he encountering a relentless onslaught of prehistoric beasts from a stampeded of dinosaurs to an infestation of giant man-eating bugs.
I managed to pick up the extended edition on blu-ray recently and there are several additional actions scenes of monster mayhem. The crew eventually makes it to a similar ravine crossing of a downed tree where they encounter Kong. More of the crew survives but then bugs finish off a few of them. Meanwhile, Ann tries to escape but she runs into bugs and dinosaurs herself leading to one of the coolest special effects scenes I have ever seen. Kong takes on three T-Rexes while also saving Ann from being chomped and tumbling down a cliff. The scene is amazing and a major reason that King Kong was my favorite movie of 2005.
Surviving the attack of Kong and the bugs with the help of Bruce Baxter, Jack decides to head on to save Ann while Carl decides to turn back and prepare for Kong's arrival. The movie makes a lot of homages to the original and also gives a strong sense of knowing what's going to happen as a tip of the hat to audiences. Ann bonds with her savior but still escapes with Jack bring Kong close behind. The crew uses chloroform from the ship to stop the beast's attack and Jack is ready to turn the spectacle into profit.
Back in New York, Kong's name is up in lights, Driscoll returns to the theater and Carl is raking in the profit and glamor. Ann has gone back to dancing on a chorus line and when Kong sees the woman imitating her, it enrages him to the point that he breaks out of the chrome steel chains. Bursting out of the theater and onto the streets of New York, Kong looks for his lost love by chasing down all the blonde women in sight. Ann finally encounters Kong and they share a moment of happiness before the military starts dropping bombs and shooting at the giant ape. Kong scales the Empire State Building to have his final fight against several airplanes before finally falling to his death. This film was the best version of this story I have seen so far.