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Last Updated: Friday, 4 November 2005, 17:25 GMT
First glimpse at King Kong remake
By Tom Bishop
BBC News entertainment reporter

King Kong
King Kong is a remake of the celebrated 1933 movie
Footage from Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong has been shown in the UK for the first time.

A trailer and unfinished 14-minute action sequence from the highly anticipated movie was screened in London, watched by film critics and the BBC News website.

The three-hour epic, said to have cost $207m (117m), will not be released in the US and UK until December.

The clip was preceded by footage of director Jackson, who won the best director Oscar in 2004 for Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

He talked of his love of the original 1933 King Kong movie, which showed the giant gorilla terrorising and protecting Fay Wray's heroine.

"I believed that to see this wonderful movie made with the technology we have today would be a really amazing thing," he said.

Naomi Watts in King Kong
Watts plays heroine Ann Darrow, offered as a sacrifice to Kong
"I want the film to do to audiences today what it did to me when I was nine years old watching the original."

The fast-paced trailer showed Naomi Watts in the role of heroine Ann Darrow, pursued by the gorilla Kong across a jungle landscape inhabited by dinosaurs, then into a city.

The impressive computer-generated gorilla was based upon the movements and facial expressions of actor Andy Serkis, who also played Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The cast also includes School of Rock star Jack Black as film-maker Carl Denham and The Pianist's Adrien Brody as playwright Jack Driscoll.

Iconic sequence

The trailer gave a tantalising glimpse of Jackson's version of the iconic sequence showing Kong clutching the heroine while standing atop a skyscraper, as aircraft shoot at him.

"This is no mere monster movie," Kong actor Andy Serkis told the BBC News website.

"It is very much a character piece and very much about relationships. A lot of the themes in the film are about isolation and love, with all the characters isolated in some way."

Andy Serkis
This is no mere monster movie
Kong actor Andy Serkis
Serkis said it was much more demanding to play Kong than the spindly Gollum.

"The scale and proportion of the character was hard to get used to at first," he said. "Once I had become accustomed to that, I had to master Kong's facial expressions and his amplified roar."

He said the director enabled him to make Kong both terrifying and sympathetic.

"Of course the computer animators take a lot of the credit for what's going on, but with Peter's help I really fleshed out the character," Serkis said.

The action sequence demonstrated this, as it began with Ann Darrow's attempt to escape Kong but ended with her tentatively trusting the giant creature.

Ravenous dinosaur

As she fled through the jungle she encountered one ravenous dinosaur after another, each realistically rendered in computer graphics.

She was chased through trees and vines at breakneck speed, before the dialogue-free sequence ended with Kong coming to her rescue in a bloodthirsty standoff with a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

dinosaur in King Kong
Watts' heroine is pursued through the jungle by various dinosaurs
"If the rest of the film lives up to that sequence, I cannot wait," said Dan Jolin, reviews editor of Empire magazine.

"Watching it reminded me how it felt to see Jurassic Park for the first time. I was completely impressed, it was so well crafted as an action sequence."

Mr Jolin said the fast-paced clip made the prospect of watching the entire three-hour epic less daunting.

"My only worry was that there was a little overkill. Did Peter Jackson really need to have her chased by three Tyrannosaurs? One or two would have been enough."

Total Film magazine's editor-at-large, Matt Mueller, described the unfinished footage as "extremely encouraging".

"The whole sequence was extremely busy, with fast camera movement and a number of genuine surprises," he said.

Will Peter Jackson have time to get that level of detail into the entire film?
Matt Mueller, Total Film magazine
"The level of detail that has been put into Kong and the dinosaurs made them much more believable."

Mr Mueller said it was clear that the film had been a major undertaking, with reports that production had gone $32m (18m) over budget.

"Will Peter Jackson have time to get that level of detail into the entire film, for its release next month? I think he will."

King Kong is due to be released in the US on 14 December and in the UK one day later.

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