Ladies and gentleman, feast your eyes on Kong, the eighth wonder of the world. King Kong is a beloved movie monster and has had an interesting journey through his little corner of cinema history. Kong’s latest chapter, Kong: Skull Island hits cinemas later this week, to celebrate this, I decided to take a look back at the first time the Eighth wonder hit the big screen and the last time we saw Kong, 12 years ago.
King Kong (1933) –
When watching this film from over 80 years ago you can have two attitudes, the first is getting caught up on how undeniably dated it is or you can look in awe of what a phenomenal piece of cinema this is for the 1930s. This film is a very early type of blockbuster that really innovated the use of sounds and special effects. Though it really doesn’t seem like much to some people without this film we may not have some of the incredibly enjoyable pictures we see every summer without this film. I’ll be straight with you guys this film is leagues above the 2005 remake, that may be hard to believe because Kong doesn’t laugh in this one but it’s true. At a crisp 1 hour 40 minutes it’s nearly half the length of the 2005 blockbuster and tells exactly the same story just so much better. Let’s start with the directors Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack who aren’t even credited for their triumph. It doesn’t seem like much now but getting believable performances from actors and men dressed as apes is one hell of a feat. Speaking of the actors and actresses, Robert Armstrong who played Carl Denham in this film somehow stole the screen from a giant ape leaving me thinking of his line that rounds off the film and not Kong who just fell from the empire state building. I desperately want to communicate something to you in this review and that’s that black and white films in a lot of cases can be more captivating and exciting than modern day pictures. Watch the dinosaur stampede scene from 2005 and then watch the scene where Kong fights the T-Rex in this film, then you’ll understand. I can’t sing this film’s praises enough it blew me away at no point did I check my watch or stifle a yawn, it’s pure monstrous poetry on screen.
King Kong (2005) –
Right let’s talk about this travesty, okay that was a bit mean but compared to the original Peter Jackson’s monster flick pales in comparison. A lot of people enjoy this movie and I can see the enjoyment, Naomie Watts, for example, delivers a fantastic performance as Anne Darrow but the pacing is so off. In the original Kong is about to be captured and taken back to New York by the time they meet Kong for the first time in Jackson’s picture. The story is stretched way too thin like a teaspoon of butter over 12 slices of bread. That aside the special effects really gripped me at certain points in the film, the finale is a perfect example, which is truly heartbreaking. Jackson really does screw up some big set pieces though the dinosaur stampede I mentioned earlier is simply outmatched by some of the effects from 1933!!! CGI just takes over the film creating ridiculous sequences of T-Rex’s hanging from vines, which I enjoyed but takes away from the might of Kong, turning him into a joke. One thing this film does very, very well is the broadway show of Kong, specifically Jack Black playing one hell of a showman using the Arabian proverb from the original in his opening speech was a really nice nod. But this showmanship is short lived as Black butchers one of the greatest lines in movie history giving a slightly bitter-sweet film a very sour ending.
“Oh no, it wasn’t the airplanes. It was beauty killed the beast.” – Carl Denham