Many of my biggest complaints are covered by other reviewers - too long; pointless characters and subplots that conveniently disappear; bad CGI scenes; lousy dialog; utterly inappropriate attempts at comedy relief; stupidly contrived situations where people absorb physical punishment that would cripple or kill a trained stuntman, but they just jump up and carry on as if nothing happened; inane inconsistencies (Watts in winter with no coat doesn't shiver on Empire State, ape that pulls down theater balcony can skate on thin ice, etc); the abominable performance by Jack (I can't act to save my life) Black; and, worst of all, the mind-bogglingly idiotic concept of having her love the ape more than she loves the guy.
But here's a couple of things I didn't see mentioned (and I only made it in about 200 reviews before crying Uncle, so if someone did catch these, I apologize):
When they first go ashore to investigate the village, nobody thinks to bring a weapon? Are you kidding me?
One of the only bits of dialog retained from the original film is the "scene" Denham shoots with Ann Darrow and the ham actor recreating Fay Wray and Bruce Cabot's scene where Driscoll tells Ann that women are bad luck on a ship. Then, the new film takes pains to assure us that this was not the deathless dialog of playwright Brody/Driscoll but a bit of cheese made up on the spot by the ham "playing" the film-within-a-film's first mate. It's odd, but in every one of the few instances that Jackson (who calls himself a big fan of the original) references the first film, he does so in the most disrespectful manner possible, as if to say, "Yes, wasn't that a quaint, creaky old piece of junk I used as the basis for my superior cinematic achievement?" Only problem is that quaint old film is a classic and will still be entertaining audiences long after this new pile of dreck has mercifully faded away.
And about the ham actor - hasn't anyone ever taught Jackson that one of the most important rules of good cinematic storytelling is that a character undergoes a change in the tale but only once. The ham goes from sniveling coward to avenging Rambo on a vine with a tommy-gun, back to sniveling coward whenever it suits the plot.
I could go on but to what purpose. I've already given this film more time than it deserves and if you haven't gotten the point by now, you probably never will. But there is one last thing I'd like to address and it's the issue of suspension of disbelief.
I'm a pretty agreeable guy when it comes to buying into a film's universe. If you let me know up front that in this movie, pigs can fly, then I say fine, fly those pigs. But the filmmaker has to hold up his side of the bargain. And if his film is poorly conceived and badly made, before long, I'm going to be looking at those flying pigs (and every other element in the film) with a far more critical eye.
This leads us to a complaint I saw mentioned several times in the reviews I read where folks were incensed that Jackson skipped over the process of getting Kong on the ship and then showing the journey back to New York. But if you look at the original, it's done the same way. Denham talks about Kong's name being up in lights, how they'll all be millionaires, how he'll share it with all of them and BANG! we're back in NY outside a theater advertising the appearance of Kong - Eighth Wonder Of The World. The difference is: in the original, we're caught up in the story, entranced and ensnared, we willingly follow wherever the film leads us because we are under its spell. But in the new one, many of us have been looking at our watches for an hour or more. We're fed up with a boatload of unlikable characters acting like morons and monsters who act just as dumb. We're in a hurry to get this over with, but we know we're not going anywhere for a while so we resort to the time-honored sport of the bored film-goer - we start picking apart every single thing we see.
And that's really it in a nutshell. We didn't care. Jackson, for all his supposed gifts and his love for the first film, couldn't involve us. The good reviews this film has received baffle me. The only answer I can come up with is that a lot of people have been taught to have diminished expectations from their entertainment. Make it enough like a video game and they think it's fine. But it's not fine to anyone who grew up in the grip of great storytellers. I had supposed Peter Jackson might be such a storyteller. If, in fact, he is, then this is no more than a woeful misstep. But it is so poor, one is forced to entertain the thought that this is the true Peter Jackson - a hack with too much money and not enough talent.
What a bitter disappointment this film is.