In a word: excellent.
In more words: confident, intelligent film-making, from a director with a sure grip on narrative and character. A near-perfect blend of action heroics and incisive human commentary. Particular highlights: Brodie’s angsty, liberal writer being confined to a monkey’s cage in the hold of the ship (what a witty, satirical image), Black’s bullish director running after Ann not to save her, but *just to see what’s happening* and that long, sweeping shot of Kong falling from the ESB while biplanes drift silently above. But the standout moment is the exchange between Jamie Bell’s Jimmy and the ship’s skipper about Heart of Darkness. “It’s not an adventure story is it?” – this, moments before Black’s arrogance leads our heroes into a trap and the tone of the film shifts into full-on sturm und drang territory. As an attempt at imbuing Black’s character with some psychological depth this doesn’t quite come off, but it’s a clever, funny way to expose the story’s themes (death, doomed love, hubris) to the audience, and a chilling indicator of where the plot’s going next. Who expected this kind of semiotic wit in a blockbuster about a giant ape? Not me.
Also, I'm pretty sure there aren't many directors who could make the image of a big ape skidding around on the ice at once romantic and ludicrous. Go, Peter Jackson!
Warning, there may be big ape pictures soon. I'm in that kind of place