Director Peter Jackson gives audiences a mixed bag with King Kong, a $200 million-plus retooling of the famous film of 1933. Jackson’s Kong, which is the director’s much-anticipated follow-up to his Lord of the Rings trilogy, runs at slightly over three hours and tries to pack way too many elements into its over-extended run. Not only are there too many story types – action, adventure, drama, comedy – but there are way too many variances in tone, score and camerawork. Watching Kong almost feels like you’re watching three separate movies over the course of three hours. The film begins in Depression-era New York City, where many people are losing their livelihoods due to hard times. Vaudeville actress Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) is one of these unlucky people. That is, until she meets a slightly eccentric, out-of-work movie director named Carl Denham (Jack Black), purely by chance. He is on the run from the studio, where they have just voted to disband his latest project. He convinces Ann to pack up her things right away and join him on a voyage to shoot one of the most exciting films ever made. She reluctantly joins him – as does his assistant, Preston (Colin Hanks) and the film’s writer, Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody) – on a murky voyage to a mysterious place called Skull Island. On the island, which is filled with scary natives, gargantuan bugs and even dinosaurs, the group also discovers Kong – a huge ape who, much to their dismay, takes a liking to Ann. They fight and fight to get her back and, when they finally do – after loads of fascinating CGI sequences filled with things like Kong taking on three Tyrannosaurus Rexes while tossing Ann from hand to hand – they decide the best thing to do is capture the humongous gorilla and take him back to New York City for public display. While both the film’s CGI and on-location shots are astounding (after all, this is the same guy who brought us the visually breathtaking LOTR films), the movie’s length, casting and discrepancies in tone are all troubling. Black, although he’s much more refined than usual, still seems a bit out of place in this film – especially cast alongside Brody and Watts, both of whom do good work with what they have. As far as tone, Jackson should have scaled back to one or two moods, instead of trying to capture the whole spectrum. Overall, with the exception of the effects and a few of the actors involved (including Jackson staple Andy Serkis, who played Gollum in LOTR), Kong is little more than mediocre. Grade: C+ —Abbi Toushin