Carl Denham (Jack Black) is a motion picture director who plans to shoot a film on Skull Island in the South Pacific. He travels there from New York aboard a tramp steamer, with his actors Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) and Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody), and several film-making crew members.
On Skull Island, the group are attacked by the island’s local inhabitants (portrayed as very primitive natives). Most are rescued by the tramp steamer’s captain, Captain Englehorn (Thomas Kretschmann), but Ann is captured by King Kong, a 25-foot giant gorilla. Driscoll and Englehorn attempt to rescue her, and must battle prehistoric monsters and other fierce creatures. In the meantime, Kong has fallen in love with Ann. When Kong tries to get Ann back from the steamer, he is sedated with chloroform and captured.
Denham takes Kong back to New York, and puts him on public display, chained to poles. But when the flashing lights of photographers aggravate Kong, he breaks his chains and begins to search the streets of New York for his beloved Ann, resulting in much chaos, destruction and heartbreak.
Cruelty to animals; greed
There is a lot of violence in this movie, much of it brutal and gruesome. For example:
- A violent clash occurs between the natives of Skull Island and Denham’s cast of actors and crew.
- A cast member is speared in the back, with the spear protruding two feet from his chest.
- Crew members have their throats cut and two of the crew are ritually beheaded.
- Captain Englehorn shoots several of the natives, allowing his companions to make their escape.
- Meat-eating dinosaurs attack the group.
- There is a brutal and gruesome fight between Kong and two Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaurs.
- Kong kills the ship’s first mate.
- As Kong shakes people from a log bridge, they fall to their deaths.
- Kong throws people around like rag dolls.
- An army of giant and very creepy insects attack and eat members of the group alive.
- Kong rampages through the streets of New York picking up women who look like Ann, then tossing them aside when he realises they are not her.
- Kong is repeatedly shot in the chest and back, while Ann looks on in horror.
Content that may disturb children
- The creature Kong himself is very scary, with giant teeth, a large gaping mouth, a frightening roar and a threatening manner.
- Man-eating Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaurs terrorise and eat members of the group.
- Giant vampire bat-like creatures appear with large protruding fangs.
- Giant man-eating insects appear. One scene depicts the group being attacked and overrun by these giant insects, and one person is consumed by giant maggot-like creatures with long fangs surrounding their mouths.
- One of these insect creatures slowly consumes a person’s head while others consume his arms and legs – a truly sickening scene.
- The native village on Skull Island contains images of numerous rotting bodies impaled on wooden stakes, human skeletons hanging from wooden stakes and piles of human skulls and bones.
- Many of Skull Island’s natives are scary and evil looking with bones piercing their lips. One of the natives is particularly scary looking, resembling a witch or hag.
All of the scenes described above could disturb children in this age group. Children under 10 are at greater risk of being traumatised than children who are closer to the age of 13 years.
Children in this age group should be able to cope with the scary visual images in the movie, but could still be disturbed by the scene in which the group is attacked and eaten by the giant insect-like creatures.
There are two mild sexual references in this movie:
- It is implied that Ann has the looks and talent to be an exotic dancer and should seek work as such.
- The term ‘boobies’ is used when commenting that people only go to documentary films to see the naked chests of native women.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
There is some use of substances. For example:
- There are several scenes in which members of the group smoke cigarettes.
- Carl Denham brings several cases of whisky on board. He swigs from a hip flask on several occasions, and at one point takes several large sculls from a bottle of whisky.
Nudity and sexual activity
There is no nudity or sexual activity in this movie, other than a brief shot of Jack Driscoll’s naked upper torso.
This movie contains infrequent and mild coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
King Kong is depicted as a gentle giant who displays more humanity than the humans in the movie. With the exception of Ann, people in this movie show only greed and hunger for destruction.
You might like to talk about some of the values represented by Ann’s display of selflessness, and the heroic manner in which she tries to protect Kong. She shows compassion, love and warmth. You could also discuss your attitude to the selfishness, destruction and greed shown by some of the characters and the effect their behaviour had on the inhabitants and wildlife of Skull Island, particularly the character of Carl Denham.