(In theaters, December 2005) It dawned on me, halfway during this no-expenses-spared third version of the classic King Kong, that I didn’t really care about any possible variant of the basic premise and even less about one that gets excited about gorilla-on-blonde action. Oh, I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy it: After all, there’s plenty of action, some spectacular special effects, a number of intriguing details and slick directorial skills. But the story is too familiar to be of interest, and further leadened by self-indulgence. For a film like this to last three hours is nonsense: There are no contiguous 60 seconds of this film that couldn’t have been trimmed to 40 or even 30 seconds. Despite a lovely historical recreation, the opening New York segment belongs in another film. Several of the action scenes never know when to quit. Worse; the undeterred excess of the film is symptomatic of what feels like a rushed finish to a blank-check project: This is particularly visible in comparing the impeccable CGI for Kong versus the amateur-hour rear-projection work during the ill-conceived stampede sequence. But most frustrating of all is the lack of focus in a film that goes here and there without even slowing down to ask itself fundamental questions such as “can a human be thrown around without having her neck broken” or even “how the heck can one be carried through frosty New York in an evening dress without spending her time bitching about the cold?” It’ll remain a wonder for the ages that a film costing more than two hundred million dollars can’t even bothered to take in account simple observations. The film isn’t bad (chances are that I’ll go through the Special Edition DVD weeks after its release), but it’s frustrating to see that much effort result in such imperfection.