March 20, 2011

King Kong (1933)

Like most of the films on this project, I had never seen King Kong before.  The reason is simple; I simply had no interest in a stop motion monster movie from the 30s.  Similarly, I've never seen Godzilla.  Now that I have seen Kong, I'm having strong emotions about it, which Robin assures me is the whole point of the movie.

I have to preface this review by mentioning that I did doze off a couple of times during the movie, so I potentially missed some key elements.  I didn't doze off because the movie was boring (at least I don't think it was) but I'd had a long day of walking around the Wild Animal Park and was tired to begin with.  :)

Okay, so let's get this party started.  I see why they titled the movie after Kong - every one of the human characters were unlikeable, annoying, useless, or some combination of the above.  The love story was so weak as to be laughable, the movie director who finds Ann and brings her on board in the first place is selfish and unsympathetic, and Ann herself...well, what can I say about Fay Wray?  She sure could scream.  And that's not a compliment.  She spent all of her time either screaming or fainting, instead of using her brain and her heart to realize that Kong, while violent and scary, was only trying to protect her.  He could have killed her in an instant - we see him kill other people just to prove that point.  But he never handles Ann with anything other than tenderness.

Aside from the brutal fighting and killing scenes, I rather liked Kong.  Of course, I have a soft spot for gorillas to begin with, and knowing what I do about their true natures I was a little annoyed with the original storytellers for making a gorilla into their evil monster. Gorillas don't act like Kong - bashing around destroying things and killing other creatures just for the heck of it.  They're gentle creatures.  Anyway, that's another soapbox that doesn't exactly belong in a movie review.  :)  Robin also mentioned the amazing animation of Kong by Willis O'Brien.  O'Brien gave Kong emotions.  Not only that - clearly recognizable emotions.  I could tell when Kong was confused, or feeling playful, or tender, or afraid.  The eyes are the window to the soul; O'Brien proved that.

Near the end, after the humans have captured Kong and brought him back to New York City, I was so saddened by the showcasing of Kong tied up on a stage in the city.  He looked sad and confused and angry all at once.  It made me angry so see these people treating Kong like that.  I was glad when he escaped.  I could even understand his rampage through the city.  After all, he thought Ann was in danger and he wanted to protect her.  Climbing the Empire State building was a way to get her as far from these crazy, loud, scary little creatures swarming around as he could think of.  I'll admit it: I got a little teary eyed when they finally killed Kong.  What they did to him was HORRIBLE.  Unforgivable even.

I'm not going to say anything about the dinosaurs...that whole interlude was just weird and frankly didn't need to be in the movie.

Next week:  Pirates!  Treasure!  Mutiny!  Well, actually all I know for sure is the pirates part.  It's Captain Blood.

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