Kong’ a great epic, ‘King’ of more than just effects

“King Kong”Universal PicturesDirected by Peter JacksonScreenplay by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, based on a 1933 story by Merian C. Cooper and Edgar WallaceStarring: Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Kyle Chandler, Evan Parke and Andy SerkisRated PG-13/187 minutesAvailable on DVDFour out of four stars

Perhaps they were just fed up with three-straight years of “Lord of the Rings” hype, but for one reason or another, academy members overlooked almost everything about Peter Jackson’s epic masterpiece, “King Kong.” Oscars for sound and special effects could be expected, but to overlook everything else-in particular Jackson for director, Naomi Watts for actress and Andrew Lesnie for cinematography-is a damn shame.

“King Kong” is not a great movie just because it is spectacularly entertaining, or because the 25-foot gorilla himself is the single best special effect ever put on screen. Both of those things are true, but what makes this film special is the emotional relationship between Ann Darrow (Watts) and Kong (Andy Serkis). Who would have ever thought that a computer-generated ape could make you cry? The emotional center of “King Kong” rivals that of any serious drama to come around in a long time.

Oscar nominations were warranted across the board and in nearly every category. From the character detail to the first-rate special effects to the stunning climax atop the Empire State Building (one of the most amazing sequences I’ve ever seen), this is beautiful filmmaking on its most epic scale.