Thursday, January 5, 2017

THROWBACK REVIEW: Son of Kong (1933)

With the release of King Kong in 1933, people went bananas over the films popularity. Critics were raving, people couldn't get enough of it, and the box office easily turned up a profit. And with such a reputation, the film of course just had to get a sequel worked in there, right? Because if there was any movie that demanded a sequel, it was King Kong. (Sigh) You may already get the feeling that I'm not exactly the biggest fan of this film, mainly because it's a sequel to a film I straight up called the absolute best giant monster movie of all time. It had a satisfying beginning, middle, and end. Hell, that ending is probably one of the most iconic endings in film history! Why bother with a sequel?

I don't know why they did, but they did, and even they knew it would likely be a bad idea. The Script writer even admitted she didn't bother trying to make it as good as the first, based on the logic that they couldn't outdo the first film. Instead, writer Ruth Rose went for a more light-hearted film with a comedic approach. That's right everyone, King Kong's sequel is a comedy. Do you guys understand why I pretty much said the franchise behind King Kong sucks? It's stuff like this that makes me shower the King Kong movie with praise, and makes me bring the hammer down on the franchise as much as I do. Look, I'll admit that I don't exactly have a good idea on how to do a sequel to King Kong. Kong isn't a monster like Godzilla that just keeps coming back, Kong had a great movie, a phenomenal one at that, and in that movie, he dies at the end. If I was asked to come up with an idea for a sequel, I'd have a very hard time coming up with one to do that movie justice. So you know what I'd do?

I wouldn't do it. 


But they did it and we are. What's the result? Well it's not really good, but it certainly could have been worse. A lot worse (we'll get there). But I will say there are some okay moments in this film. It's just that a good majority of this film is either dull, or completely underwhelming. One thing I need to point out is that unlike King Kong, Son of Kong is considerably shorter. Where King Kong was around 104 minutes long, Son of Kong is considerably shorter, at just over an hour in length. And the worst part is, we don't get to Skull Island until about halfway into the film. Fantastic. A film about the supposed son of Kong, and we don't get to Skull Island, the place where he lives, until we're pretty much halfway through the movie. Good move there, movie. Good move.

I'm being overly critical here, but despite everything, there is some stuff that I liked. One thing I can immediately point to is the opening scene of this movie, which takes place about a month after Kong's demise atop the Empire State Building, where we see Carl Denham, the movie director from the previous movie, and the captor of Kong, now broke, depressed, and very downhearted. New York City business owners are bringing him countless lawsuits for property damages brought on by Kong's rampage, the press is hounding him, and he's in this state of mind where he actually feels sorry not only for the loss of life Kong brought upon New York, but also sorry for the monster itself. It's almost like perhaps there really was a bit of a message in the previous film of how we treat nature so blindly. It's arguably the strongest scene in the movie. Too bad it happens right at the very beginning.

Carl is called upon by his skipper friend, also from the first movie, and they decide to leave New York to try and finds some shipping business and who should they come across, but the very sailor who sold Denham the map of Skull Island in the first place. He tells them of a treasure hidden in the island that may very much solve all the problems that Denham is facing, and it's off to Skull Island once more to try and find this mysterious treasure. But while there, they also bump into an ape-like creature, very much resembling Kong, only smaller and albino, who takes a bit of a liking to the human explorers. And from there it's nothing but an underwhelming treasure hunt that reminds me of "The Lost Continent", only fewer dinosaurs, and no rock climbing.

Immediately Skull Island feels lacking. The Natives are barely in this movie. In fact they only get two very brief scenes, one in which they turn Denham away, and the other where we see a small group of them getting killed as the island sinks into the sea (yeah that happens). Everything from the original movie that made Skull Island feel like this vast mysterious no man's land, is gone. There are VERY few dinosaurs here. And even though there are some, they're just not as impressive or used as much. People note that the stop-motion animation of this film isn't as extensive as that in Kong, probably because this film was as rushed as it was, and it shows. The only thing they seem to note is a very brief, and I do mean INCREDIBLY brief chase involving a Styracosaurus. It's the only real event in the movie that made me feel like there was any real threat in this island. Heck, the longest fight in this movie, is between Kong's son...and a cave bear. A CAVE BEAR. Oh we're gonna set this movie on an island where prehistoric monsters have survived all these millions of years, but let's pit Kong's offspring against a bear! That'll wow audiences!

I guess one thing worth noting is that Willis O'Brien wasn't as directly involved with this film as he was King Kong. He supposedly thought that the film was too cheesy, and though he left his models for the film, he left his two sons to do the actual animating. Unfortunetaly this was a rather depressing time period of his life, and a rather dark one, and it might have affected the films quality, because the special effects just aren't as used much here. Heck, the films climax, in which this huge earthquake tears the island apart making it sink into the ocean is rather underwhelming, and just not that fun to watch. You  "The Lost Continent". And I need to say that the supposed comedic effect that was supposed to be in this movie is very flat. Not once did I really laugh watching it. Because most of the comedy revolves around Kong's son, giving off these derpy looks, grunts, or other goofy emotions. The musical score actually plays off it as if to say, "okay, laugh now!" There's one part in the movie where out of nowhere,  Kong's son just gives this very silly shrug as if to say some cheesy one liner line "Well, it's a living!" or "What'cha gonna do?" It's just all very flat, with no real purpose.

My final criticism of this movie unfortunetaly goes to the characters. While a few return from the first movie (Denham, the skipper, and the Chinese cook who's still a stereotype), the newer characters in Helmstrom, and the girl that I can't remember the name for (because they only reveal her name in the opening credits and not once do they say it in the actual movie), are flat to me. Heck, the girl's acting in this is absolutely terrible. Half the time, she looks half asleep, and rarely conveys any hints of emotion. Like when she confronts Helmstrom, who killed her father, she just speaks in this dull monotone that isn't convincing in the slightest bit. It's actually very funny how little she seems to care. I like how developed Denham's character is in this movie (to the point where I can understand why his actor preferred this movie to King Kong), he's arguably the films greatest strength, but it's literally all it has, and as a followup to the greatest monster movie of all time? You can bet that your movie will be beyond disappointing.

I'm giving Son of Kong a two star rating out of four. I almost gave it a one and a half star rating, but I think it barely earns the two star rating. Barely. That's not saying much. This sequel is harmless...but it's below average. It really is. It's dull, wooden, flat, and just not as exciting as its predecessor. Not by a long shot. If you were a fan of Kong, and your curiosity got the better of you, and you wanted to watch this, there's nothing so condemning in this picture that would make me say, "Don't do it, it's not worth it!", but there's nothing that would make me really say, "yeah, go watch it" either. It's just a bland forgettable sequel that was doomed from the very start. Nothing more, nothing less.

Please feel free to suggest films you'd like to see me take a look at. Leave a comment down below expressing your own thoughts and opinions on the film, as they are much appreciated, and as always, thanks for reading.

Next week, we take a look at Japan's very first attempt at filming King Kong, in one of the most famous monster movies ever created. Does it have any meat? See you next week when I review the infamous,  "King Kong VS Godzilla".

Final Verdict: 2/4

No comments:

Post a Comment