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Film / King Kong (2005)

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"And lo, the beast looked upon the face of beauty, and beauty stayed his hand. And from that day forward, he was as one dead." - Old Arabian Proverb

Peter Jackson's 2005 take on King Kong returns to the original story as propounded in 1933: Depression-era filmmaker Carl Denham (Jack Black), dodging debt collectors, hires an out-of-work actor Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) and successful playwright Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody), charters a ship and quickly leaves on an expedition to find a certain uncharted island...

Jackson's film diverges from the original by providing more of Denham's and Ann's respective back stories. Further, Driscoll is changed from the ship's first mate to a playwright, and a narcissistic Hollywood actor (Kyle Chandler) is added for comic relief. The natives are much more brutal than past portrayals. And, as with the 1976 film, a good deal of attention is paid to the unusual "romance" between the girl and the primate, which is strong enough that Ann would rather stay on the island with him than see him captured; and later she refuses to participate in his exhibition in the United States. She does, though, show up in time to halt his rampage through the city, and from there... well, you know how this one ends.


Interestingly, this version makes a show of Denham filming scenes and dialog lifted from the original 1933 movie.

Two licensed games based on the film were released in the same year; Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie and Kong: The 8th Wonder of the World. The former is considered by many to be a rare modern example of a good movie tie-in game, with props going to the atmosphere, environments and Kong gameplay. There's also the tie-in book The World of Kong: a Natural History of Skull Island, which delves into Skull Island's wildlife and features many creatures that don't appear in the film.


Tropes in Jackson's King Kong include:

  • Abduction Is Love: Despite the fact that beauty and beast met when Kong took Ann as his latest sacrifice, they still end up bonding to the point Ann wants to do whatever she can to protect Kong.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Ann Darrow, in subtle ways, is far more outgoing and direct than her more Neutral Female counterpart from the original 1933 movie (she also screams far less)
    • Kong himself, sort of; whereas the 1933 version was just a straight-up possessive, vicious monster, this Killer Gorilla is given a lot more emphasis on his emotional state, emphasizing his loneliness and how he comes to view Ann as a friend or even a surrogate family member. Even during his rampage in New York, whereas the original Kong threw the "fake Ann" harshly, this one is shown tossing the women he mistakes for Ann in the street aside fairly gently. (Though the crunching sound they make when they fall indicates they're badly injured anyway, if not killed.)
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Carl Denham is a lot less of the noble and adventurous director/script-writer that appeared in the first movie. He's a failing Prima Donna Director who literally has to skip town in the opening part of the movie in order to avoid having all he owns seized by his sponsors. There's also a fundamental shallowness to him; when he mourns the death of the first member of his film team (speared and bludgeoned to death by the natives) and then uses the exact same speech to mourn the second death (eaten by venatosaurs), well, it makes you wonder how much he genuinely gives a damn about either death (though notably, he's shown gulping down whisky both times).
  • Adaptational Species Change: Aside from changing the dinosaurs from real prehistoric species to fictional speculative descendants of them, several of the creatures are radically altered from the ones that filled the roles in the original film.
    • The Brontosaurus which attacks the crew's raft during the swamp scene is changed into a Piranhadon, a gigantic predatory fish (likely because modern audiences, more familiar with dinosaurs, would have trouble straining their belief for a bloodthirsty and excessively aggressively sauropod).
    • The Pteranodon that Kong fights on the cliff, giving Jack an opportunity to escape with Ann, is changed into a flock of Terapusmordax, a type of bat-like giant rodent.
    • The Stegosaurus which savagely attacks the crew in the jungle and is gunned down is changed into a fictional ceratopsid known as Ferrucutus. The Natural History of Skull Island states there are stegosaurs on Skull Island however.
  • Adaptational Villainy: The villagers on Skull Island, while they did abduct Ann Darrow for their sacrifice to Kong, were otherwise just native islanders who were interrupted during their ceremony and yelled at them to leave their island. This film turns them into psychotic savages far more sadistic than any of the island’s wildlife who brutally murder some of Carl Denham’s film crew with no hesitation.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Considerable: Peter Jackson's version is 87 minutes longer than the original, or a full 101 minutes longer in its extended cut—twice as long.
  • Advanced Ancient Acropolis: Practically every shot of the landscape of Skull Island shows signs of human workmanship, from the gargantuan Wall to the labyrinthine graveyard to the animal-paths that show remnants of paving and stairs. The weight of time, climate, seismic upheaval and neglect - not to mention Kong and other giant wildlife stomping all over it - has reduced the majority of these crumbling ruins to broken debris, but the island must've been home to a very grand civilization at one time.
  • Age Lift:
    • Englehorn's age was never given in the novelization of the original film but he was described as middle-aged and was played by the 58-year old Frank Reicher. He is younger in this film, being played by a 43-year old Thomas Kretschmann.
    • The novelization of the original film, the original not the rewrite, never gives Lumpy an exact age but is described as an old man. He is younger in this film, played by a 41-year-old Andy Serkis.
  • Agony of the Feet: Amazingly averted. Ann spends her entire time on Skull Island in bare feet, with much of that involving either being dragged or running for her life across rough terrain, and doesn't get so much as a blister.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The "Natural History of Skull Island" documentary and book, explaining how various species of prehistoric animal evolved to better suit the Island's hostile climate and terrain, as well as history of the once grand human civilization on the island.
    • A prequel novel also exists, which explains how the map Carl follows to the island was produced and came into his hands.
    • Proper names for the various creatures are never mentioned in the film, and can only be found in supplemental books like A Natural History of Skull Island and merchandise.
    • Most of the random crewmembers of the Venture seem to have been given names, even if they are never used in the movie.
  • Always a Bigger Fish:
    • The heroine hides from a huge carnivorous lizard in a hollow log, and it tears at the wood to try to get her. Suddenly it stops, and she seems safe... until half the same lizard is seen dangling from the jaws of a ginormous V. Rex, which just bit it in two.
    • At one point in the extended cut, the film crew is attacked by a swarm of giant aquatic centipedes while rafting across a lake, but the centipedes all quickly retreat when they sense the approach of a Piranhadon.
    • Kong himself is a near constant example of this trope in the first half of the movie, as he repeatedly kills a number of animals that are trying to eat Ann Darrow. He's probably the only animal on the island capable of killing a fully-grown V. rex.
  • Anachronism Stew: In opening scene, primates from Central Park zoo are shown in natural looking, densely planted environment. Such exhibits became possible only in modern zoos (and likely animals were filmed in the wild, except obviously captive orangutan playing with sack, and chimpanzee)
  • Animal Stampede: A herd of Brontosaurus get startled by a pack of raptor-like Venatosaurus as Carl's crew is filming them. The panicking Brontosaurus clumsily run into canyon walls, fall off of cliffs, trip and tumble over each other, and in general harm themselves far more than the predators they're running from ever manage to. Some members of the film crew still get trampled by them.
  • Aquatic Hadrosaurs: The corpse of a Ligocristus, a fictional lambeosaurine dinosaur, appears in this film. According to the film's companion book, The World of Kong, it's noted to swim to small islets to lay its eggs during dry seasons. They are skilled swimmers, using this as a way to escape land predators. Possibly justified by the fact that it's not a prehistoric hadrosaur.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: Although excusable in earlier works as science marching on, the dinosaurs and most other prehistoric lifeforms all emulate Rule of Cool, primarily as an artifact of the original movie. It's explained in the documentary that the creatures on Skull Island are different from known dinosaurs because they have had 65 million years in which to evolve into their current forms. Evolution marches on.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When preparing for King Kong to be exhibited in New York, we see Ann getting ready for a stage performance—implying she's part of the act. But then it turns out that another actress is playing Kong's victim, and we find that Ann turned down the job and is now working as a dancer.
  • Bat Out of Hell: Terapusmordax is not a true bat, but in fact a giant flying rodent that developed a similar appearance. That said, it still looks the part.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished:
    • Played with. Ann is extremely filthy, barefoot, has torn clothes, and a scratch/scrape here and there, but considering the abuse she takes in the jungle, it's still pretty light.
    • She's also not blue from frostbite and hypothermia, despite wearing only a flimsy dress on a night cold enough for the Central Park lake to be frozen solid. Nor does she exhibit these symptoms after falling through said lake when an artillery shell hits it.
  • Beware the Skull Base: Like the original film, Skull Island serves as this. It also expands on the concept as numerous rock outcroppings surrounding Skull Island are carved to resemble snarling ape-faces and the immense walls feature skull-shaped architecture.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Bruce Baxter leads a moment that is amusingly right out of the movies he doesn't appear to live up to in real life.
    • Also when Captain Engelhorn saves Denham and the rest of the film crew from the natives.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Just like the original, New York is saved from Kong's rampage, but he's just as much a victim, having been kidnapped from his home against his will. Plus, Ann has to bear the guilt that she's partially responsible for this. This version makes it even more tragic, as it emphasizes that Kong is a lonely, frightened animal more than a monster, and Ann is truly distraught by his death. It's hinted that Ann and Jack will at least be get a shot at happiness together, though.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Almost everywhere, to keep the film at PG-13; natives and animals are shot at point blank range, people are speared, people are Impaled with Extreme Prejudice on razor sharp teeth... all without a drop of blood spilled.
  • Bus Full of Innocents: While going berserk having broken free of his chains at the theater, Kong bumps into a bus and he tries breaking it open to see if Ann's inside. Jack diverts Kong's attention just in time.
  • Casually Powerful Giant: While Anne is performing her vaudeville act for Kong, flicks her over with his finger, knocking her on her ass. When she gets up, he does it again. He keeps doing this every time she tries to regain her footing and laughing with amusement. Eventually he stops when Anne snaps at him.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: Snooty actor Bruce Baxter, faced with the perils of Skull Island, gives up on rescuing Ann, only to return later Just in Time for the aforementioned Big Damn Heroes moment.
  • Chekhov's Hobby: Ann's vaudeville routine comes in very useful when trying to distract Kong from eating her.
  • Climbing Climax: As is tradition, Kong runs from the Army with Ann, straight up to the top of the Empire State Building, where he duels with biplanes and is killed.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Kong to some degree, if his fight with the three Vastasaurus rex are any indication. He's strong enough to throw and toss them around, crushes the skull of one with a large slab of rock, and bites down on another pretty hard.
  • Cool Plane: The US Navy Curtiss O2C Helldivers that duel Kong on the Empire State Building. The planes had to be modeled from hard-to-find archived blueprints, as none of the type have existed, not even as museum exhibits, in over seventy years.
  • Covered in Scars: Kong has scars all over his body to show that he's been through some fights.
  • Creator In-Joke: The script of Carl's movie is in fact Peter Jackson's personal copy of Edgar Wallace's 1932 script for the original film, then called The Beast.
  • Creepy Camel Spider: Moonspiders, a type of large but not unrealistically so sun spiders, are among the various giant invertebrates native to the abyss of Skull Island's central ravine.
  • Creepy Centipedes: Jackson's remake is infamous for various horrific giant centipedes (and other incredibly large arthropods). In the natural history book of Skull island, there are shown to be quite a few species, with one group (the "neopedes") even being aquatic.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Let's see; being crushed to death by panicking sauropods, being Eaten Alive by raptors, being thrown by Kong against a wall, being thrown off a log into a deep chasm below, being slowly devoured by giant worms, suddenly being snatched by a giant pincer and dragged back to its nest while screaming, being ripped apart by giant predatory arthropods, being crushed by Kong, having your head bitten off by Kong...
  • Darker and Edgier: The darkest King Kong movie to date, with nightmarish creatures, savage natives, and higher levels of violence than the previous films. Also admits that it's set during the Great Depression more overtly than the original, which was an escapist fantasy with minimal reference to hard times.
  • Death by Adaptation: A very unusual example. Charley, the Chinese cook from the 1933 film, gets broken up into two characters: a white cook named Lumpy and his Chinese assistant Choy. Both of them die; Choy dies when he falls from the log into the pit below, and Lumpy is then eaten by monstrous invertebrates called Carnictus Worms. In the original film, Charley survived the entire affair and went on to feature in the sequel.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: The movie operates on Rule of Cool when it comes to the animals, but Kong is still hit with this when attacked by the airplanes. He is atop a skyscraper and can't hit any of the airplanes until they have already gotten close enough to riddle him with machine gun fire. While he does manage to destroy three of them, the injuries caused by the machine gun fire take their toll and he loses his grip on the building, falling to his death.
  • Decomposite Character: The Jack Driscoll character from the original 1933 film is divided into three.
    • The writer Jack Driscoll who takes his name and status as Anne's Love Interest.
    • Mr. Hayes who takes his role as the Venture's first mate.
    • Bruce Baxter plays a character similar to the 1933 Driscoll in Denham's film as a Mythology Gag and he's named after Bruce Cabot who played Driscoll in King Kong (1933)
  • Determinator:
    • Carl Denham is this, but it's subtly deconstructed; his determination to do things his way always leads to him pursuing things beyond the breaking point. It's implied that this resulted in his reputation for tending to ultimately flop his films in the past, and this is what leads to his foolish decisions that ultimately allow Kong to escape from the theatre.
    • Jack Driscoll is a more traditional example. Nothing will stop him from trying to save Ann. After the bug pit has slaughtered almost everyone and the few survivors are rescued, Jack still decides to go after Ann all by himself (unarmed at that) and he succeeds against all odds.
  • Devoured by the Horde: Lumpy is eaten by several giant grubs/worms in the spidercrab pit. Jack almost meets a similar fate, but is saved by Jimmy's Improbable Aiming Skills.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • Impossibly ancient, insane architecture? Check. South Pacific location? Check. Tales of people going insane upon seeing it? Check. This movie's version of Skull Island is, for all intents and purposes, R'lyeh.
    • The Carnictus Worms in the swamp at the bottom of the Valley certainly have the shape of a certain thing-a-ma-jig, though they have the personality of the receiving end of that thing-a-ma-jig.
  • The Dreaded: Jimmy's reaction upon learning they're headed to Skull Island while eavesdropping on Jack and Carl's scripting session doesn't hint at it being a fun place to visit...
  • *Drool* Hello: During the sauropods' stampede, Bruce Baxter takes cover against the wall of a ruin... only to be drooled upon by one of the smaller carnosaurs above, about to attack him, forcing the actor to flee again.
  • Dumb Dinos: The stampeding brontosaurs are Too Dumb to Live; they crash into cliffs and fall over each other, and generally do more harm to themselves than the attacking predators could ever do to them. The carnivorous dinosaurs are not much better: they mindlessly attack Ann Darrow while their previous prey, a large lizard, is still in their mouth, even when she is protected by Kong himself, or when they hang on vines over a ravine for their own lives. Somewhat justified for the brontosaurs as the island has been rapidly becoming geographically unstable, and they are decidedly not built for the kind of breakneck turns with potentially fatal falls that are now the norm.
  • Eager Rookie: Jimmy wants to help on the expedition to save Ann Darrow, but his father figure Hayes doesn't let him.
  • Eldritch Location:
    • Skull Island could very easily be one of these. It is implied that it may not exist the way usual locations do, as if it can hide. A creepy skull shape spontaneously appears on a map when they are near the island. The map of said island is immediately lost due to a mysterious gust of wind just when it would've the most useful. And their attempts to turn their ship around seem doomed to fail, as though the island itself has a will to snare them. It's full of creatures that are larger than should exist in nature, they're all aggressive and dangerous beyond anything nature could cook up, the somewhat magic-seeming natives emerge like ghosts from the ruins, and the geography is frightening.
    • Even the standard biology failures actually work to reinforce this depiction; you know that they should not work the way they do, yet clearly, they do. It just makes the place even more awful and frightening, and it really says something that the giant Killer Gorilla is the most normal creature to be found there.
  • Epic Movie: Clocks in at 188 minutes in the theatrical cut and 201 in the extended cut.
  • Expy: Jack Black himself has noted similarities between Carl Denham and Orson Welles. (Welles actually worked on a documentary about South America called It's All True, which was cancelled when he was fired by RKO.)
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job:
    • Ann Darrow is one unlucky break away from going the burlesque chorus-girl route (a stripper, in other words). After she gets back to New York, she takes that job rather than accept any of the money Denham is planning to make off of Kong.
    • The prequel tie-in novel establishes that it's not the first time she's been job-desperate: before the comedy revue with Manny launched, she'd worked an Atlantic City boardwalk, narrating a diving-bell attraction and stunt-riding diving horses.
    • Pretty much everyone on Denham's crew would probably rather be working anyplace else if there were other (and safer) jobs out there. But, y'know, Depression.
  • Fanservice: Ann spends most of the movie wearing just her nightgown and a robe, generously exposing her bare legs & feet and later her arms and shoulders after she loses her robe.
  • Fiendish Fish: In a deleted scene included in the extended cut, the rescue party are attacked by Piranhadon, a giant carnivorous fish living in the mangrove swamps of Skull Island.
  • Flanderization: The film goes out of its way to remove every positive character trait Carl Denham had in 1933, and replace them with something negative.
  • Foot Focus: Ann’s feet are bare for the majority of the movie. There are also several closeups of Naomi Watts’s bare feet that assist in building the tension of each scene.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: During Kong's rampage chasing Jack's car, among the buildings wrecked is a movie theater which is featuring The Invisible Man. The original Kong and Invisible Man were both released in 1933.
  • From Bad to Worse: Ann finds a Foetodon gorging on a carcass. She quietly leaves, but turns around to find a second one, and soon has both chasing her into a rotten log, and ripping it apart as they follow her in. Then the one in the log is yanked out, and the second flees, and as Ann tries to get a good look at it, she realizes that there's two Megapede in the log with her. She understandably freaks out and gets out of the log—only to see the V. rex standing behind her with the dead Foetodon hanging from its mouth. She manages to escape from that V. rex, only to end up trapped on a dead trunk with no way out from the bull V. rex behind her. Thankfully it's at this point that Kong shows up.
  • Giant Animal Worship: The villagers seem to view Kong as a guardian deity who protects them against the dinosaurs on the island.
  • Giant Flyer: The Terapusmordax, a giant predatory rodent resembling a bat, displaces the Pteranodon from the original film as the token "giant winged predator" on Skull Island.
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • It's difficult to see during the fight with the final Vastatosaurus rex, but Kong actually bites the vastatosaur's tongue off, then spits it out and resumes fighting. The film covers it up by cutting from a close-up view to a mid-range shot from an obscured angle so fast it's somewhat difficult to spot. Look closely in this clip, though, about 48 seconds in.
    • From the same clip: The scene also switches briefly to Ann's shocked face as Kong crushes the vastatosaur's head like a peanut.
    • In the bug pit, Lumpy is slowly devoured alive by the bloodworms. One of his arms, his leg, and his head are all eaten by three worms at the same time, and many more go in for his torso. Thankfully, the camera cuts away in time before we could see what happens after that.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: In Kong's fight with the Vastatosaurus, several times he uses his immense strength to lift up and bodyslam one of them into the other two.
  • Gulliver Tie-Down: During Kong's attempted capture, several ropes are fired from harpoon guns over him, then more Venture crew toss a weighted net down on him from the wall.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Thoroughly averted. Guns are the only reason that the humans even really survive on Skull Island; the Thompsons used by the crew prove capable of bringing down Venatosaurus, Brontosaurus, the insects, and even deterring the Piranhodon. While Kong proves to be significantly more resilient, biplane fire eventually brings him down.
  • Hair-Contrast Duo: Ann (fair-haired) and Kong (dark-furred).
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Ann is blonde-haired and is probably the kindest and most moral character in the movie. This is invoked by Carl Denham choosing to cast her as The Ingenue in his film.
  • Helicopter Flyswatter: A squadron of six biplanes attacks Kong at the top of the Empire State Building, and he takes out half of them before succumbing. First he leaps out to rip a wing off of one, catching himself on the side of the building and climbing back up, and later he grabs a second plane by the struts between its wings, spins it around, and send it flying away, seemingly able to recover—but then it slams into a third plane, downing both.
  • Hollywood Evolution:
    • Evolutionary biology and ecosystems don't work that way. Creatures trapped on an island tend to select for smaller size, not larger—and yet if you read The Natural History of Skull Island or watch the relevant documentary on the DVD, that's exactly the opposite of how the film makers designed the animals. Also, with that many apex predators in such a tiny area (the vastatosaurs, the raptors, plus the various giant arthropods), the island would've been devoid of life in no time as the ecosystem fell apart. It is implied in the film (and explicitly said in the Natural History tie-in book) that the island used to be much larger and is sinking into the sea and breaking apart. Still, for animals that large, the break-up would have to have been of a very large land mass and would have had to only been happening for a very short period of time, geologically speaking (the book confirms it as around 1000 years), which makes it something of a Voodoo Shark.
    • Island gigantism is a real concept, but it happens on very large islands as opposed to tiny ones, and its effects are greatly exaggerated in the film, probably because huge dinosaurs and bugs and a gigantic ape are interesting to watch.
    • Also, the mockumentary tie-in suggests that King Kong is a relative of Gigantopithecus, a real ape (and a very large one, although nowhere near Kong-sized) believed to have died out about 100,000 years ago. But Gigantopithecus was a relative of modern orangutans, not gorillas. There is no way an unrelated ape could evolve to be 100% identical to an oversized gorilla.
    • It's also not unheard of for landmasses to change within a very short period of time. Some examples include the Minoan Eruption on the Greek Island of Santorini and one hypothesis for the Zanclean Flood.
  • Hope Spot:
    • In the iconic climax, Kong is badly injured from the biplanes atop the Empire State Building. Ann desperately tries to signal the pilots to stop the attack. In a moment that seems like it's going to be a Not His Sled and Kong would be spared the fate the befalls his original incarnation, the pilots see Ann and break off the attack. Then one of the pilots shoots Kong in the back later anyways, where Ann is covered from the salvos from the plane by Kong's body.
    • Earlier, there's a short respite in the "bug pit" scene where it seems like Jack, Jimmy, and Carl have managed to polish off the whole swarm of giant wetas and man-sized Big Creepy-Crawlies, while getting well clear of the mud puddle full of killer bloodworms. Then more ominous chiton-clicking starts up all around them, the camera draws back, and we see that hordes of much bigger predatory arthropods are closing in from the surrounding walls and crevices... And then it turns into an inversion of the Hope Spot, because right then Baxter and Englehorn show up and rescue them.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Skull Island—and Carl is certainly nervous when he realizes that Jimmy has overheard him and Jack saying the name.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Carl takes a humongous swig from a whiskey bottle he's carrying in a binoculars case after barely surviving the stampede scene and seeing Herb get eaten by dinos in front of him. He also gets hammered as Ann is being abducted because of the disastrous first contact with the natives and seeing Mike get impaled.
  • Idiot Ball: If the creatures of the island just left him and Ann alone, Kong would do the same to them. The only reason that Kong murders them is because they picked the fight. They pushed all the buttons...
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: When Jack is swarmed by giant bugs, Jimmy fires a Thompson submachine gun full-auto at him from only a few feet away and manages to hit nothing but bugs. The .45 ACP rounds fired by the Thompson aren't exactly known for their penetration ability, so it's realistic for the bullets that hit the bugs to kill them without going all the way through and hitting Jack, but that doesn't justify fact that none of the bullets miss the bugs and hit Jack directly.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • The film executives at the beginning (excepting Zelman) are portrayed as boorish with no sense of art, but their frustration with Carl asking for more money to film on location while having nothing but animal footage to show for his film is understandable. Likewise their move to scrap the picture and use the filmed material for stock footage is reasonable from a business perceptive, even if it's personally devastating to Denham.
    • Jack has absolutely no kind words for Bruce Baxter once the latter leaves the rescue party, citing how utterly pointless the whole thing is. However, being as said party had already been caught in a deadly stampede and an assault by venatosaur "raptors", resulting in at least four men dying to try and save one woman, who for all they know is dead already (and it would be hard for them to assume the giant ape that kidnapped her might develop any sort of feelings for her), his point of view can come across as understandable.
  • Kaiju: Kong and the Dinosaurs.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: After Kong is mortally wounded from being shot many times by the planes, he lays down and just looks at Ann as he barely clings on to the Empire State Building, then the planes return and shoot Kong in the back!.
  • Lamprey Mouth: The Carnictus worms from the insect-pit scene.
  • Last of His Kind: It is implied that Kong is the last giant ape on Skull Island: the most telling evidence is a shot of him entering his cave and walking past multiple skeletons of giant gorillas. This loneliness, along with the hostility of Skull Island's environment, accounts for both his ferocity and his need for company, which Ann Darrow supplies. Furthermore, as stated in the background materials, Skull Island's entire ecosystem is dying because the island is submerging due to geological activity. Only a few years after the events of the movie, a final earthquake buries Skull Island under the sea.
  • Living Dinosaurs: Most of Skull Island's fauna.
  • Losing a Shoe in the Struggle: Ann gets kidnapped as she was getting ready for bed. Consequently, her shoes get left behind, and she spends the entire time in the jungle barefoot. By all accounts, her bare feet should've been ripped to shreds by the rough terrain, especially in the jungle itself, long before Kong started carrying her from place to place, but she doesn't even get so much as a thorn or a blister.
  • Lost World: The one and only Skull Island.
  • Malicious Monitor Lizard: While lost in the vast and deadly jungle of Skull Island, Ann is attacked by several huge lizards that are clearly supposed to be beefed-up komodos. These monitors are in turn devoured by a T. Rexpy, which hasn't had its fill yet and proceeds to chase after Ann too.
  • Merchandising the Monster: See characters bringing Kong, who at this point has contributed to the death of uncounted people on his island, back to the US for entertainment purposes.
  • Midair Collision: Kong takes out two planes at once by grabbing one by the bi-wing struts and hurling it into a second.
  • Mighty Whitey: The same variant as in the original film; the black women sacrificed to Kong were all killed, whilst the white woman Ann Darrow is spared and befriends the beast. However, this version justifies and subverts it; the pursuit of the crew and Ann's attempt to fight Kong off delay Kong trying to kill her, and Ann later tries to entertain/amuse Kong with her vaudeville routines, whereas the natives probably either just screamed or went passively to their deaths.
  • Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: Not whole worlds, but Carl Denham's tendency to unintentionally destroy the things he loves is Lampshaded.
  • "Mister Sandman" Sequence: The opening leaves absolutely no doubt that it's Depression-era NYC.
  • Monster-Shaped Mountain: Numerous rock outcroppings surrounding Skull Island are carved to resemble snarling ape-faces. Likewise, Kong's lair has a shape like a deformed, screaming skull when seen from outside.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The scene where Skull Island is being typed, with drawn out letters for the word "Skull" and dramatic cuts between Carl, Jack, the paper, and the watching Jimmy.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • A reference to an actress, "Fay", who is working on a film directed by Cooper over at "R.K.O." I.E. the original King Kong.
    • The name of the lead actor for Denham's film is Bruce. The original 1933 film's Jack Driscoll was played by Bruce Cabot.
    • Large chunks of the original dialogue are lifted verbatim from the 1933 film, sometimes as near-parody (the original's banter between Jack and Ann is used as Denham films his two actors).
    • Kong's stage show in New York includes an elaborate (and inaccurate) depiction of the native sacrifice ritual, which is remarkably similar to the depiction of the actual ritual seen in the 1933 film. And the music for the entire sequence is a new performance of the original's score.
    • Rewriting Jack into the role of the writer gets spun into a gag as Ann initially mistakes another character for him. Bonus points for having the scene turn immediately into a Right Behind Me moment.
    • The fight between Kong and the last Vastatosaurus rex is practically move-for-move the same as the last half of the fight between Kong and the Tyrannosaurus rex in the original, right down to Kong playing with the dinosaur's head after killing it and then roaring and beating his chest triumphantly.
    • The giant crickets that crawl all over Jack in the giant-bugs scene are oversized versions of New Zealand wetas, a self-reference by Weta Workshop, which designed and crafted the movie's creatures.
    • The entire scene in the crevice is a reference to the script, but not the actual film, of the 1933 original: the script had it that not all of the rescue party immediately died after Kong threw the log they were trying to cross into the ravine but were then attacked and devoured by a variety of monstrous animals at the bottom, most of them arthropods. Jackson tried to make sure that this part couldn't be cut out by solving the very reason it was cut in the first place: It slowed the story down. He fixed this by having more significant supporting characters die, and having Denham's camera destroyed to give his character a stronger reason for bringing Kong back to New York City. Meanwhile, the original lost "spider pit sequence" was recreated using period-appropriate technology and filming techniques and included it as a bonus feature on the DVD.
    • Lumpy the cook was originally a character from an early draft of the 1933 film, who was replaced by Charlie in the finished production. Lumpy did appear in the original film's novelization, which may be why Jackson opted to include him alongside his friend Choy.
    • Ancillary material referring to Skull Island later sinking after an earthquake is an oblique reference to the original film's sequel The Son of Kong.
    • invokedPeter Jackson and makeup artist Rick Baker have Creator Cameos as a pilot and machine gunner in the final sequence, just as co-directors Merian C. Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack did in the original.
    • The screams of the sailors being thrown off the log and falling into the ravine in the 1933 original, are used for the sailors' screams during the brontosaur avalanche.
    • The prequel novel includes a character named "Sam Hardy", which was the name of an actor in the 1933 film.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: While Jack has noble intentions when it came to rescuing Ann he indirectly causes many of the deaths of the Venture Crew and even more when he confronted Kong back in New York.
  • Non-Malicious Monster:
    • Kong himself, naturally, but curiously, the Terapusmordax (giant, batlike rodents) are also shown to be this—they're first seen roosting in their cave and one of them ominously glares at Jack, but since he's not provoking them, none of them attack him. They only start attacking when Kong wakes up and roars furiously upon seeing Jack trying to take Ann, and in that case, they most likely saw Kong as some sort of threat.
    • Averted with everything else on Skull Island. They all just appear to want the crew dead, by any means necessary.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Ann tries to hide from a giant monitor lizard in a tree log before it is promptly eaten by an even larger predator, then the giant centipedes inside the log scare her enough that she runs away... only to realize that she's now standing directly in the line of sight of a Vastatosaurus.
    • Ann had a minor one aboard the ship after she addressed one of Denham's assistants for the movie, thinking he was Jack Driscoll, only to find that Jack had been behind her the whole time she had been inadvertently badmouthed Jack's looks.
    • At the theater, Kong notices Jack Driscoll, and stops his rampage, and stares at him long enough for both of them to realize that Kong remembers Jack—and the last thing he saw Jack do was taking his beloved Ann away from him. Cue epic Oh, Crap and subsequent Unstoppable Rage.
  • Only Sane Man: The Captain and, surprisingly, Bruce Baxter. Both of them point out how stupid it is to sacrifice dozens of men for one woman, opting instead to stay behind and repair the Venture, which is pretty much the only safe place on the entire island. Unsurprisingly, 17 men died in the end to rescue Ann.
  • Papa Wolf: If you're a Vastatosaurus, don't even think about sneaking a nibble from Kong's new surrogate child, Ann.
  • Piranha Problem: A deleted scene shows the crew crossing a swamp and being attacked by a Piranhadon (an oversized lungfish with teeth like a piranha).
  • Playing Against Type: In-universe. Carl tells Ann, "You're the saddest girl I've ever seen," and chooses her to be his lead because she evokes The Woobie so well. Ann responds to this by telling him that she's a comedian who makes people laugh for a living.
  • The Precarious Ledge: As if being caught in a stampede of panicked brontosaurs weren't dangerous enough, the rescue party and the panicked herd wind up on a cliff-side ledge that begins crumbling under the massive herbivores' weight.
  • Prehistoric Monster: The entire ecosystem of Skull Island can be summed as a prehistoric nightmare where everything wants to eat you. Almost every creature encountered is big, ugly and full of sharp teeth with a taste for humans. Special mention goes to the V. rex, where designers admit they were tasked to make the "most, evil, diabolical" dinosaur to ever fight Kong.
    Greg Broadmore: "It wasn't about making a real dinosaur. It was about making it the most terrifying thing that Kong could fight. We worked on making the eyes scary and making it nasty and smelly—which is a recurring theme in the movie!"
  • Raptor Attack: The hypothetical dromaeosaurids, called Venatosaurus, are depicted as scaly and with pronated hands. They even have osteoderms (bony scutes) on their backs like the V. rex, presumably for the same "classic" dinosaur look.
  • Real Vehicle Reveal: Ann gets out of her taxi and stares at an ocean liner, only for Denham to direct her attention to the Venture, a smaller and much less impressive boat on the other side of the dock.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The CGI aircraft have a little "strobe" effect added to the propellers simply because this artifact of film and frame rate is something that the audience expects to see.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Zelman is the only executive who really supports Carl's film and does his best to back him up.
  • Regional Redecoration: A Natural History of Skull Island explains that Skull Island used to be much larger and was first colonized around 3,000 years ago. However, due to its position at the boundary between the Indo-Australian and Eurasian tectonic plates, it was subject to a combination of geological instability, as well as magnetic anomalies and freak storms. The same forces that created the island began tearing it apart, causing it to slowly sink over the last millennia. This process accelerated as the land grew smaller and smaller, with earthquakes and volcanic eruptions causing entire regions to collapse into the ocean. Fifteen years after its discovery by the modern world, the island, its unique ecosystem, and native peoples were gone forever.
  • The Remnant: The Natives are actually the last survivors of a formerly grand civilization that once occupied the center of the island. As the island began sinking into the sea, the wall surrounding their city ended up being breached and they were forced to evacuate to the other side of it, taking refuge in the barren landscape containing the catacombs outside their city. Ironically, the wall once meant to keep predators out now became the only thing that was keeping them in.
  • Reveal Shot: The film opens with a closeup of monkeys frolicking amid thick foliage. A glimpse of Skull Island? Nope, the Central Park Zoo.
  • Scenery Porn: Skull Island's landscape and vegetation look gorgeous.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: In spite of losing her job and being hungry, Ann turns down her only job offer at The Ruby Fruit Club because it requires she strip naked for the pleasure of adult men.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Pulled by Bruce Baxter, Captain Englehorn, and several Venture crewmembers. None of them intended to encounter Skull Island in the first place and everyone with common sense quickly realizes that it's a literal deathtrap, as many of Englehorn's crew learn within hours of leaving the ship. The captain himself is clearly peeved about having to pull one Big Damn Heroes moment after another to save Denham and his entourage. It's little wonder that neither Englehorn nor his crew were in the final act.
    • Then during the theater, Bruce notices that Kong is pissed and quickly flees.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: In the insect pit, when Lumpy silently mourns over Choy, who died as a result of his not acting quickly enough, giant worms start appearing. Lumpy gets enraged when they start probing at the corpse and fights them off as best he can to prevent them from eating Choy, but quickly attracts their attention instead and gets overwhelmed and is eventually killed. Choy's corpse was most likely eaten afterward as well.
  • Serkis Folk: Andy Serkis himself provides both vocalizations and Motion Capture for Kong. He also plays the ship's cook, Lumpy.
  • Shell Game: After breaking out of the theater, Kong's first priority is to find Ann. He grabs multiple blonde women who look like Ann to him. He gets angrier each time he chooses the wrong woman.
  • Shirtless Scene: Jack on the ship as he's coming back from the bathroom, used to establish romantic tension between himself and Ann.
  • Shout-Out: On the ship there is a box that reads Sumatran Rat Monkey—Beware the bite!, referencing one of Jackson's earliest films, Braindead. The shout out goes both ways, in fact: In Braindead, the rat monkey was explicitly stated as being from Skull Island.
  • Shown Their Work: King Kong himself was painstakingly designed to emulate real gorillas in term of behavior, facial expression and anatomy, beating his chest with cupped hands rather than punching his chest. The vastatosaurs also silently stalk Ann like actual predators, don't make a loud thud when they move, and only roar when they encounter Kong.
  • Stock Scream: One sailor does a Wilhelm scream during the brontosaur stampede as he is knocked off the cliff.
  • Super-Persistent Predator:
    • The Vastatosaurus rex. One of them spots Ann and decides to give chase—despite having a large reptilian Komodo-dragon thing still in his mouth. And then two more join in. Every time they're given a chance to go for Kong instead of Ann, they go for Ann anyway. And then the last one keeps going after Kong kills the other two. In the tie-in book it's stated that vastatosaurs would attempt to kill infants of Kong's species at every opportunity, implying that they tried so hard to get at Ann in the movie because they thought she was an infant Kong.
    • The raptors in the brontosaur stampede scene keep trying to get a bite of human instead of, you know, getting away from the stampede, or feasting on the tons of dead bronto-meat now before them. Although the venatosaurs may have continued chasing them away from the dead sauropods in a bid to protect their hard-earned meal.
    • There's one aversion: in the same scene a venatosaur chases Jack. When Jack gets in between a brontosaur's legs, the raptor goes for closer, less protected prey: Carl.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: When we first see Ann during the intro, she's performing on stage in male drag.
  • Take a Moment to Catch Your Death: In a deleted action scene, the rescue team travel through a mangrove swamp on Skull Island when they're attacked by a giant predatory fish which eats several crewmen. When they get back on land safely, all seems well... until the fish jumps out of the water just to grab another man who had just gotten to safety.
  • Takes Ten to Hold: Englehorn and his men, at Denham's behest, initially attempted to capture Kong by lodging grapple hooks into the giant ape and pulling him as close to the ground as possible, with the aid of a large net tied to two large rocks, so that he could get close enough to inhale the chloroform they tossed on the ground in front of him. It would have worked, had they used more chloroform, and Kong not seen Ann being dragged away by Jack...
  • Tempting Fate: when they encounter the natives for the first time, Denham tells everyone to stay calm because everyone they see are women and elders and that they're harmless. The natives then bite his hand when he tried to offer them chocolate and Mike is then immediately Impaled with Extreme Prejudice by a native spear.
  • Tom Hanks Syndrome: Invoked in-universe. Ann is a vaudeville clown who gets cast as The Ingenue lead in Carl's adventure film, although Ann didn't want to take up Carl's offer in the first place. She only accepted to meet Jack.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Sweet Jesus, Carl, do you have any brains at all? The entire climax of the display of Kong was clearly an awful idea to anyone with any sense—letting Kong think that the woman he's clearly very protective of is panicking and in danger right in front of him is just asking for trouble. Likewise, when the flashbulbs are going off and clearly upsetting Kong, Denham just ignores it, despite the fact that is also a blatantly obvious bad idea.
    • While it's understandable that Lumpy the cook is distraught over his friend Choy's death, wading back into the midst of the Carnictis worms to rescue his buddy's corpse isn't too bright, especially after he's already eluded them once and seen those nasty extensible mouths of theirs. This sadly gets him killed.
  • T. Rexpy: The fictional theropod Vastatosaurus rex is designed to resemble an evolved tyrannosaurid with notable similarities to Tyrannosaurus itself. There are some obvious differences: instead of a prominent overbite, the V. rex has overlapping teeth like a crocodile, as well as hardened body armor and three fingers on its hands. They're also much larger due to island gigantism, with almost twice the body mass of a Tyrannosaurus (16 tons vs 9).
  • Visual Pun: "Shoot him!" Cut to two men shooting at Kong with machine guns—and Carl shooting him with a movie camera.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • We have no idea what happened to Englehorn or his crewmates after Kong's capture. Jimmy in particular is a bad case; we have no idea if he survived or not, our last shot of him is just Jack cradling Jimmy in the water after they were both knocked out of the rowboat. The most likely explanation is that Englehorn and his crew took their share of the profits and then beat it out of New York City as quickly as possible, none of them wanting to be around when Kong inevitably broke free.
    • After the crew enters the village to save Ann, the natives are never seen or mentioned again. Though, considering that background material stating that Skull Island eventually sank into the sea, they're doomed anyway.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In the deleted swamp scene Lumpy bitterly asks Carl, "Did you get that, did ya?" after a crewman is killed when he is grabbed and pulled underwater by a Pirahnadon, all while Carl is filming the crew getting to safety on land.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: At Kong's premiere in New York, Carl mentions seventeen of their crew dying a terrible death, which is a gross underestimation. If we take into account the extended cut, at least 25 sailors lost their lives on Skull Island, and that's only assuming that those we do not see ripped apart make it out alive (if probably severely injured or even crippled for life), without which the death toll would increase to as many as fifty, making you wonder how many people manned the boat in the first place. Although it is conceivable that Carl, a sneaky bastard that he is, paid off some of the surviving members of the crew so they did not disclose the details of how many people actually died (and how they died), either because of fear of public backlash or the insurance costs he would have to cover.


Video Example(s):



The screams of the actress playing Ann suddenly turn real.

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Main / OhCrap

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