After he broke just about every box-office record around the globe, introduced the world to the marketing possibilities of hobbits, elves and dwarves, and waltzed off with a best director Oscar to boot, it would have taken a brave studio executive not to greenlight whatever film Peter Jackson felt like doing next. Indeed, so much filthy lucre did The Lord of the Rings trilogy generate that Jackson could probably have suggested making kitten snuff films and the money men would have practically broken their wrists straining to sign cheques for him. Fortunately, the film Jackson wanted to make next was far more palatable - to audiences, financiers and kittens alike. Jackson's remake of King Kong (HBO, today at 9pm) was the movie he had dreamed of making since the age of 12, when he tried to recreate the film using his parents' Super-8 camera and a model made of wire, rubber and portions of his mother's fur coat. With a budget in the region of US$200 million, Jackson wisely chose to leave his relatives' clothing unmutilated this time, opting instead for the best computer-generated imagery bulging sacks of cash can buy. The results are thoroughly satisfying. Jackson takes his time setting the scene (1933, Depression-era New York) and establishing the characters, including Naomi Watts as struggling actress Ann Darrow, Jack Black as unscrupulous film director Carl Denham and Adrien Brody as writer Jack Driscoll. So much so that about half of the three-hour runtime has elapsed before we get the first sight of the titular giant gorilla. It's worth the wait, however, as we are treated to some superb action sequences, such as one in which Kong tangles with a pair of Tyrannosaurus rexes, before the famous finale atop the Empire State Building. For such a lengthy film, the time whizzes by, testament to Jackson's aptitude for old-fashioned storytelling and the excellent performances from his three leads. The special effects, too, are what you'd expect from such an obscene budget, but - crucially - they augment rather than hinder what is, at heart, a surprisingly touching love story between a woman and an implausibly large ape. Before Jackson came along, the undisputed champion of the mega-budget blockbuster was James Cameron, who directed such successes as Aliens (1986), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) and True Lies (1994) before Titanic (1997) turned his attention to sub-aquatic adventuring. The Abyss (ATV World, today at 9pm) is his often-overlooked tale about the crew of an underwater drilling platform who come into contact with what may or may not be an alien life-form. Claustrophobic but imbued with an almost childlike sense of wonder, this is a poignant and idea-filled reminder of Cameron's talents - and perhaps an inspiration for his explorations below the waves.