Sunday, February 26, 2017

THROWBACK REVIEW: Kong: The Animated Series (2000-2001)

Hey kids, do you like Godzilla: The Animated Series? Ever wish to see it without the charm and likable characters? Was the decent action of Godzilla: The Animated Series too much for you, and do you wish it were toned down times ten? Do you like plot devices and technology that break every law of science I  the goddamn book? Then Kong: The Animated Series is just the show for you. What is it with all these atrocious King Kong cartoons? Can't one decent animator get Kong right? Is it asking that much to have a Kong cartoon that's slightly better than that animated musical?

If you can't already tell, I'm not at all a fan of this cartoon series I've just watched a good chunk of. Because it makes no sense. I like to think I follow Hodgson's Law pretty well. There are times I need to remind myself, that whatever I'm watching is just a show or movie, and I should really just relax. Don't get me wrong, that doesn't really affect my critical analysis so much, but when it comes to certain nitpicks and technical details that some people can raise hell over, I tend not to care. This is true in particular to the Star Trek fandom I'm a part of. But if there was ever one show, that made me want to throw Hodgson's Law right out the window... this is that show. Because I'm wondering if the writers themselves bothered to take a double take on their absolutely ridiculous concepts. There is very little holding this show up for me.

You can tell the show was trying to compete with Godzilla: The Animated Series. It focuses on this small group of humans who team up with King Kong's...clone....yes, clone... as they fight giant monsters, usually controlled by this really generic villain. But if that's not enough, the show felt the need to rip off God knows how many other shows. Like Dragonball Z apparently.  I've heard song comparing fusion dances or something to this show. I don't know, I could care less about Dragonball. What I do care about is how dumb the concept is. How do I explain it?  After Kong's demise in 1933 atop the Empire State Building, a young scientist managed to preserve Kong's DNA so that later on she could create a clone of him........ (annoyed grunt)

Let me run that by you again. A scientist... in 1933... preserves Kong for the sake of cloning. Was that even... possible back then? Was the technology of 1933, REALLY so far along that preserving DNA for future cloning was really that conceivable? How does she fund such a project? Why does she do this? Why is my brain already hurting from think about this? We have our generic villain of a professor, who's seeking these things called Primal Stones, as each possess incredible power and he of course wants it. So alongside ripping off Godzilla, and Dragonball... they apparently decided to throw in some Jackie Chan Adventures as well, because these Primal Stones just remind me of the Twelve Talismans of the Chinese Zodiac. And they're also connected with ANOTHER big bad villain I  this demon god character. Seriously, what is this? What. Is. This? This is one of the most convoluted shows I've ever seen. It's almost as if its trying too hard to be cool. It's not working. If you want a big bad demon character, fine. But is it necessary to introduce him so early on, especially if you already have a main baddie? Just do your ripoff talisman hunt plot, and begin your gargoyles ripoff story later. Don't do it all at once, it just convolutes your story! It's a giant mess!

If the ridiculous concept didn't make you change your channel, these characters most certainly do. These are some of the blandest characters I've ever seen. There's Jason. He's your hero character. That's all. There's his buddy Eric. He's a big doofus that likes pineapple pizza. That's all. There's Lua. She's a tough girl native shaman who's pretty much of with nature. And that is all. Do you see where I'm going? All of these characters are obvious cutouts. If you compare them to the characters of Godzilla: The Animated Series, you can immediately see a difference. I'm not gonna pretend that show is perfect, because it's not, but each character actually has a bit of development. And they have ways of standing out. Even the weaker characters of that show have more going for them than anyone here. Liking pineapple pizza is not something that makes your character unique. And then there's our generic bad guy. Who you can tell is bad from the first moment you see him. He is evil. He does things because he's evil. And that is... say it with me now...ALL! I'm not going to beat this dead horse any longer. You get the idea. These characters are atrocious.

And the action. Good God the action. Watch an episode of this show, then watch an episode of Godzilla, and tell me which is more satisfying. I'm not trying to make this review of big comparison to its Godzilla counterpart, but for as silly as that show can be, it actually has a lot of very fun action. The monster brawls are great. I love watching Godzilla (or Zilla Jr.  for all you purists out there) grab monsters by the head and drag them underwater. I love watching him analyze his foes and really look for a weakness. I loved how he'll often finish them off with an atomic fire breath to the head. It's a lot of fun! So... what does this show have? We'll make a quick comparison, the very first monster Kong faces is a T-Rex. Okay, good so far. The fight lasts a few seconds, and all Kong does is twist the neck a bit. (Facedesk) I wish I could say it gets better, but it really doesn't. It doesn't get worse, but each opponent Kong faces is so generic, so forgettable, so not very fun, that I never have much fun watching it. And the fighting is no better. 

Speaking of Kong, he looks hideous. I understand they had to keep him kid friendly and all, but he doesn't look so very good to me. And he sounds even worse. His grunts and roars will grow on you. Very fast. You can tell Scott McNeil is just literally saying "ROAR" in the microphone. And I've yet to tear apart the one thing I utterly hate this show over. The merger sequence. This is that Dragonball element I was mentioning earlier. Apparently, Jason's grandmother (the scientist who cloned Kong) invented this device in which one could merge themselves with an animal. Its really just a pitiful excuse to give Kong some power in the show when he's struggling, and an excuse to give him opponents from the professor. The thing is, this thing is never explained how it works. And it breaks way way WAY too many laws of science for me to buy it. For example, when Jason merges with Kong, Kong virtually remains the same height and appearance. But whenever the professor merges with any random animal like say a rat, the rat is suddenly as big as Kong with a monstrous appearance. How does it get that big? Why does it look as such? None of this is explained. And that's not the worst of it. Apparently, Jason can have Kong merge with him, making him easier to travel with. Like...Kong merges with Jason. Who remains the same height and appearance. That's right...Kong is now pocket sized. Breaking every law of mass in the book. With ZERO EXPLANATION.

I can't take it. I just can't take it. I've tried looking for something to enjoy. To thoroughly enjoy. I just can't seem to find it. Nothing makes any sense. What makes even less sense was how this show lasted longer than Godzilla did. I'm not good pretend that show was the best, but it was a lot of fun while it lasted. This got two seasons... And TWO DVD feature films. How did this happen? How did it manage that? I spent roughly 8 hours of my life, watching this horrible show, and the only thing I found? It gives me an unintentional laugh now and then. There's your bright side. The one thing worth mentioning as good. Fuck this show.

Kong: The Animated Series is a half star rating out of four. It's beyond dull. The characters are bland. The action is bland. The animation is incredibly bland. Even the few concepts that I found kinda interesting failed to hold up any potential. How do you mess up this badly? I don't know what they needed to do to make this ridiculous show work to their advantage, but one thing's for certain, I'm never looking at it again. It's just not worth my time. Don't try and get me to watch the rest. My patience only goes so far.

Please feel free to request any films you'd like me to look into in the near future. Leave a comment down below expressing your own thoughts about the show below, and as always, thanks for reading.

I'm almost done. Next week will be the final week of the Kong-a-thon.  Praise the Lord. I'm hoping to be reviewing, not one, but TWO movies next week. And we start it off with one of the absolute best remakes a film can hope to get. See you Monday when I review the 2005 Peter Jackson remake of King Kong.

Final Verdict: 0.5/4

Monday, February 20, 2017

THROWBACK REVIEW: The Mighty Kong (1998)

What on earth did I just watch? I'm not sure it was real, because prior to watching this, I made myself quite the cocktail, and I found myself laughing at this film more than I likely should have. Just listen to this concept and just see if it interests you in the slightest. King Kong, released as an animated musical, starring Jodi Benson, more commonly known as the voice of Ariel in Disney's "The Little Mermaid". I'll be completely honest, I once saw this as a kid, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I don't remember when that was, maybe it was 1998. I really don't know. All that you need to know, is that watching it roughly two decades later? How I ever found it entertaining, I'll never know. I think a lot of us think that at some point in our lives.

That's not to say Mighty Kong is terrible, but it's certainly not good. There are a few things I actually found I kinda liked, but yeah, on a whole, this one really isn't that great. At only 72 minutes in length, it compresses the story of Kong, and a lot of the exciting parts of that story are merely glanced over, while a bunch of pointless stuff is included. One thing that immediately comes to mind is the dinosaurs. They're barely shown in this. And the fights are not that impressive. I mean...that's practically a Kong staple for me. But on the note of Kong, I ironically found him to be surprisingly absent in this film. Even when he's on screen, he's just not that impressive. This could be the fact that by the time we see him, likely half of the movie is done, and whatnot, but when he's tromping around New York City, there's just not a lot of fun in it. He just kinda looks blank in the face. It sucks the energy right out of the story.

The characters don't exactly help out here. They're pretty terrible. The only two even memorable are Denham and Darrow, voiced by Dudley Moore and of course, Jodi Benson. Jack Driscoll is in the film, but he's not. If you thought there was no way the wooden acting and surprisingly sudden romance between him and Darrow couldn't be anymore wooden and sudden than the original, just wait until you see this. At least in the original, the two spent some time talking and bantering back and forth before they found out they loved each other. Here, Driscoll just kinda constantly insults her, to the point of her becoming infuriated with him, but one song later, they're in love. But they don't even really explore that too much. And honestly, the only reason I remember Denham in this movie is because of his strange accent. He almost talks straight up like William Shatner at times. That and he's almost always smiling in this movie. Oh and there's these two completely pointless characters in the movie in this cabin boy and his pet monkey who contribute nothing in this film at all. They're there to be a supposed comedy relief, but they're not funny, and they're not charming. They're entirely pointless.

I guess I can't talk about a musical without addressing the music, so how is it? Well like the movie, it's not terrible, but it's certainly not good. It's listenable. That's about it. Some of it really doesn't need to be there. Some of it is just forced. One song that I actually kinda dug was a song that didn't need to be there, but was kinda fun just for the sake of being fun. Denham is doing his test camera shots of Darrow, and he's explaining a scene in which she's this island princess. The song has nothing to do with the story, it's just a fun detour from the story. But one thing that caught my eye was the fact that during this little sequence, they show Darrow jumping from a cliff into the sea, and the animation becomes incredibly similar to that of Ariel from Little Mermaid. The way the hair forays in the water, the way she keeps singing in the water, even the facial expressions... all this for a character Jodi Benson voices. There's no way that can be a coincidence. Maybe it's the movies strange way of saying I could be watching Little Mermaid right now. Something I actually really like.

Honestly, again I know I'm being a bit critical here, especially of a kids movie only 72 minutes long, but the movie does have a few strengths. One of them being that it kinda takes notes from both the original, and the 1976 remake. It mainly bases its film off 1933, but it actually directly mirrors a scene from 1976 when Kong takes Darrow to a waterfall to wash her. Unfortunately, the bond between Darrow and Kong isn't really developed, and Darrow is paved more into the frightened damsel category, rather than the tamer of the beast. They also have some fun with the iconic climax, even if it's rather silly at times. Like they have some silly clich├ęs involving Darrow hanging onto the Empire State Building for dear life before she's caught by Driscoll. Another thing I kinda like is that they play with the net idea from 1976 with these huge zeppelins, which make Kong lose balance and fall off the building...and true to the kid friendly status of the film, they have Kong survive his fall. And strangely enough...everyone is kinda cheering when they see he survives. It's very weird.

You know, I know this movie is really dumb and stupid. At times, pretty bad. The animation isn't spectacular, the characters are pretty bland, as is the music and action of the film, it falls in that forgettable territory alongside Son of Kong and King Kong Escapes for me. But at the same time, I can't help but laugh at some of the things they did with this film with how stupid it got. It's balancing perfectly on that so bad that it's good line. Such is something I found completely absent in say...King Kong Lives. So you know what? You're gonna get by a bit easy today movie. I'm feeling generous.

The Mighty Kong gets a one and a half star rating from me. Again, this is by no means good. But there are a lot of fun things about this little direct-to-video release that made me watching this all these years later kinda...relaxed towards I guess. I wasn't joking when I aid it couldn't get worse than King Kong Lives, which I still haven't really forgiven. The limited defense I've heard towards it isn't exactly something I'll debate too much. This film...which was shorter and on a limited budget, much lower than the $10 million budget King Kong Lives had gave me more to enjoy. So if you were morbidly curious, found this at your local goodwill or whatnot? Hey...you might enjoy a single viewing. Make yourself a drink, and just sit back and enjoy how silly stupid this is. Because ironically enough...this may be the best animated portrayal of Kong you'll ever see.

Please feel free to request any film you'd like me to take a look at. Leave a comment down below expressing your own thoughts and feelings about the film, and as always, thanks for reading.

Join me next week when I tackle the first thirteen episodes of....Kong: The Animated Series.  The things I do...

Final Verdict: 1.5/4

Thursday, February 16, 2017

REVIEW: The Great Wall

The Great Wall is...silly dumb fun just as I predicted it would be, but I will say that it thankfully has a somewhat competent story, which is honestly more credit than I originally gave it credit for. Watching trailers for this, it really didn't do much to impress me. But hey, I enjoy being proven wrong sometimes. Don't get me wrong, the movie is still very dumb, but damn it if it's not a little fun in all its dumbness if that makes a hint of sense. 

The story is based on a couple mercenaries on search of legendary "black powder" which is said to be one of the most deadliest of weapons. A simple concept, but one I can get behind. The movie begins with these mercenaries being chased by...bandits I guess. We never really get an idea who was after them, but they literally get chased into the legendary Great Wall of China, in all its CGI and colorful army glory. And they find themselves in the middle of this conflict against this large reptilian army from...Heaven apparently? Honestly the reason behind this reptile army (that most definitely are NOT dragons) being in this movie and fighting the Chinese armies is rather shoe-horned in, and kinda gives off this lazy "greed is bad" message. Taken prisoners, they impress the Chinese with their fighting skills...their stupid dumb flawless fighting skills and Matt Damon decides to help fight against this large army, because apparently there's something worth fighting for here. 

I might as well come forward and say it, the movie's driving force is the action. And the action isn't even really all that good at times, more than it is just flashy, and over-the-top in laughable ways. The very first major battle we see on screen shows us how the army functions. By color code! If you're in black armor, you're a footsoldier, if you're in red, you're an archer, if you're in blue, you're this acrobatic female that literally bungee jumps from the wall with spears in your hand down toward the army below (that's not a joke either), and if you're in purple armor....the movie forgets all about you. The CGI is very much present here in this film. The effects are very flashy, and at times, they're likely just meant to make the 3D more impressive. But honestly, having just watched it in Imax, I'm not even sure if the 3D is that impressive. The effects zoom in on arrows shot from bows, acrobat females leaping from the wall, and Matt Damon throwing a shield around like he's Captain America. The movie isn't afraid to go all out in its action to the point where it would make the elves of the Lord of the Rings blush. 

The characters aren't terrible in this film, though they can be kinda cutouts. Matt Damon, who doesn't play a Chinese soldier, so there's no need for whitewashing criticism here, does a fine job portraying his character William, even if at times, his accent seems to disappear, and I will say that many of these Chinese actors, making their debut appearance in American theaters are actually a lot of fun to follow. The commander, Lin can be a lot of fun, but they're pretty much the only characters I cared about. They tried to get me to sympathize with this younger soldier boy who's often harassed by his superiors and whatnot, and looks up to Damon, but the two don't really bond in any way, shape, or form, and I don't think I'm spoiling anything here, but by the time he dies, I just kinda chuckled. Damon's friends in Ballard and Pero really also contribute very little to the story, which baffles me because at times, the movie focuses on them a lot. They have this generic escape plot that really goes nowhere. It contributes next to nothing in this film. 

However none of this explains why I went to see it in the first place. The creatures. I was eager to see the monsters portrayed in this film that the Great Wall was apparently trying to keep out...and they're honestly kinda disappointing. We're not given a lot of explanation into where they came from other than the gods sending them because of the greed of an emperor or something, and the behavior of the creatures just isn't really explained to the fullest detail. That and the designs themselves aren't that intimidating at times. They actually kinda remind me of D-War, and I'm sure some of you know how I feel about that movie... It's just your generic Zerg rush army, lead by a queen that's really nothing different from them, and that's it. There's no diversity so much, there's no flying creatures, no really large creatures, they don't have any fun with these creatures, which leaves me, a diehard creature feature lover, wanting a LOT more. Hell, these things don't even breathe fire. C'mooon...

Honestly, I know I'm being overly critical here, but I don't dislike the movie. I'm kinda "eh" towards it. It's got a lot of really fun stuff. I enjoyed the musical score, and despite it being dumb, I enjoyed the over-the-top no strings attached action, and like I said, the cast is very likable. But the overall story just isn't fleshed out enough, and there's just not enough meat on the bones of this movie to really say, yeah I'd watch it again. I had fun, but it didn't really leave me on a high, and once I was in my car, I has practically forgotten about it. 

The Great Wall is a two and a half star rating out of four for me. And that might even be a little generous. But I will say that if you're like me, a lover of creature features, you'll likely get a kick out of one viewing. The film has its saving graces. Maybe they're just more apparent to me after having recently sat through that King Kong Lives movie, but for what this dumb silly movie was, I enjoyed it. I doubt I'll watch it again, but I enjoyed it. 

Please feel free to request any film you'd like me to have a look at. Leave a comment down below expressing your own thoughts on the film, and as always, thanks for reading. 

Final Verdict: 2.5/4

Saturday, February 11, 2017

THROWBACK REVIEW: King Kong Lives (1986)

Prior to watching this, I was told the three following things. "King Kong Lives is a popcorn movie." "King Kong Lives is good cheesy fun." "King Kong Lives is amazing." Are any of these statements true?

....no. No they're not.

Dino De Laurentiis' sequel to his 1976 King Kong remake, King Kong Lives is absolute garbage. Easily earning its reputation as one of the worst Kong movies out there. Easily earning the terrible reputation it has amongst the Kong fanbase. And despite me not exactly liking Rotten Tomatoes as a source, it easily earns that 0% approval rating. Because the movie fucking sucks. And before anyone asks, yes. It is worse than Queen Kong. I don't think the question needs to be asked. That question being, "what's wrong with the movie?". The question should really be...what's NOT wrong with it? And I don't know the answer to that question.

Right off the bat this film does nothing but present questions that are never answered. The film takes place ten years after the events of the previous movie. Kong apparently has survived his fall from the World Trade Center, and has been kept alive in a coma by this...Institute in Atlanta. Because...that's a thing now. First thing in the movie. Makes. NO. Sense. Why would a school keep Kong alive? Especially if it's running them seven million dollars? Especially after Kong has proven to to be a dangerous animal? Did the government approve of this? Guess what. None of these questions are answered. We just gotta roll with it. We see Linda Hamilton, not playing Sarah Connor, as this doctor in charge of replacing Kong's heart I guess because it's failing, but because he's been in a coma for so long, not even a transplant will save Kong. Not without a blood transfusion of a similar species. What a coincidence, another giant ape is found immediately afterwards, and is a female. And it's all history from here folks. They capture the female, proceed with the transplant and transfusion, Kong wakes up, senses the female, and the two develop a bond, while being pursued by the military, and while Sarah Connor and discount Indiana Jones form a pointless bond of their own, and try to preserve both specimens. And Lady Kong gets pregnant, and has a mini-kong. This movie sucks.

The list of problems I have with this movie is endless. Like the surgery for Kong in the beginning of the movie. So they need to take his heart out. Does...no one here know just how much work would go into replacing the heart of a 50 foot ape? The bigger question is does Kong even have a sternum? Because if he does, it's about as thick as my dinner table at home. But then again, a simple bump on the head in a river knocks Kong out, and bloodies up the water in a few short seconds later in the movie. Might also explain how a tribe managed to tranquilize lady Kong with blow guns, or how Kong was in any way hurt by tiny little bullets of a handgun during the climax. Seriously with all this in perspective, it's a wonder Kong survived falling off the Twin Towers at all. Wait a moment...it just came to me. HOW did Kong not suffer much more damage falling from the top of the Trade Center? With as quick a recovery he has in this movie after being in a coma for ten years, I'm having a hard time buying the entire scenario of this movie! I've only been watching a few minutes and this movie is already trying my patience! Back on track, I cannot buy the surgery scene at all. They make it look way too simple. They literally just kinda set the heart in...no one making detailed checks to make sure it's in the exact place it needs to be. Again, this is a fifty foot ape. I think this job would have been a LOT dirtier, and bloody. They just seem to use giant cotton swabs and other oversized tools and make this job look so easy, when it would likely straight up fail. Instead, Kong just suffers a few minor setbacks during his very brief recovery (and I do mean very brief), before he senses the female and takes her away, quite literally in his arms. As strong as before. Who needs rest? Oh and they have this remote control that apparently can fix any complication of Kong's new heart...what is this? Really what is this? That's just....really stupid.

While I'm on the subject of the Kongs, how are they portrayed? No better. The costumes can stick out like a sore thumb. While not as bad as say Queen Kong, the suits aren't that convincing. Kong was better portrayed last movie, and granted the suit wasn't perfect, but the little things are portrayed better. Like his posture. In the previous movie, Kong is a bipedal, walking on two legs, much like the original. Here, they both walk on all four legs, though there are times they constantly switch back and forth. I don't really care if your Kong walks on two legs or four. I love the original in which he walks on two, and I love another movie in which he walks on four. The only problem here is that it creates a continuity clash. Did you not watch your own movie, Dino? They also have arm extenders which while they aren't as noticeable as they are in the Toho movies, do still stick out. Especially when combined with some of these fake-looking sets they use. Also apparently Kong is a meat eater now, despite the movie clearly showing him as a plant eater first. I mean...apes are herbivores. That makes sense. Then the movie says he can't live without eating about 1000 pounds of protein a day, before we see him munching on bunch of alligators (that's not an exaggeration either, we see them just dangling from his mouth). Even a person later on. In a really dumb...dumb scene. The roars...oh my God. I wanna take back all the bad things I said about the last film as far as it being occasionally annoying. The roars here are INCREDIBLY annoying. And what adds to this is thar the trailer advertised Kong with his previous roar. Here, it sounds nothing alike, and was likely produced by modulating human vocals. Every roar makes me wanna turn the volume off. They sound like shit. And it doesn't help that there are scenes with just constant roaring. I also really don't care how these two apes act. They behave a little too much like humans than they do apes. Kong carries her out like a newlywed husband, there are scenes in which they bond in which they part with each other and fake each other out, it just doesn't feel right. Times they look at each other, and I just wait for the romantic music cue. Hell, they even seem to understand the humans right down to their language. It's just not believable. I can't think of one thing I liked about how they portrayed them. Even the pregnancy of lady Kong is botched up. I mean she gives birth to an ape...the size of a man. Despite her abdomen being much bigger than that. I mean, what the hell else was in her belly, air?

But if the monsters weren't any good, the human characters of this movie are no better. And that's because practically everyone in this movie is just a one-dimensional asshole in this movie. Like the military Colonel. Who wants to kill Kong, because he's nothing more than a jarhead killing machine...because movie. Literally, the first line the movie uses to describe him, is that he'll shoot any civilian on sight that attempts to break through his perimeter....WHAT? How did this asshole become a Colonel? This guy should be in prison with behavior like that! Yeah, if there's any stragglers you find in the red zone, KILL 'EM ALL! Not like they're citizens or anything. No arrest, just good old fashioned cold blooded murderrr... Literally, the guy's first response to anything going on is to shoot the big monkey. And his jarhead soldiers are no better, I wanted to slap half of them. Like holy cow, stop being so stupid. Why are all of you being so stupid? And it goes beyond the soldiers. There's hunters who manage to briefly capture Kong, who torture him, and treat him like dirt and whatnot just for the sake of being evil, because movie (really it's just a stupid scene), there's the institute heads who have no idea what the hell they seem to be doing, the only two characters in this movie who aren't complete dicks are Sarah Connor and discount Indiana Jones, but their characters are so bland that I don't care about their characters at all. Their relationship literally comes out of nowhere. It sparks from a horrible one-liner from Sarah Connor. "We're primates too." What the hell, movie? What the hell? Sure we have zero development between our characters, but I conveniently have this sleeping bag for two people, despite being single, and you're the only other character who isn't a 100% asshole in this movie. You must be the one. I also found a lot more of the dialogue rather annoying. Like how Sarah Connor can apparently "feel" that Kong is alive, and how she argues that with the Colonel. This is one of those movies, people.

I can't even get a kick out of the action of this movie, because it only happens because the Colonel decides to just be a jarhead. Literally whenever any reason to stop shooting is brought to him, he usually replies with an answer along the lines of, "well I don't care, we're gonna shoot anyway". The climactic fight of this movie is so forced, that it stands out in all the wrong ways. It looks incredibly fake, I'm given literally no other reason to believe that this was supposed to be in this movie, other than to make Kong go out like a hero while his lover goes into labor. Well Kong is gonna die anyway, we might as well just have the movie show him going out in a blaze of glory. If you want Kong to go out in a blaze of glory, is it so much to ask that you not painfully force it? Why should I, the viewer, care about Kong's death, when he himself guaranteed it when he destroyed the one device that could have saved him in the first place? I didn't bat an eye when the military was shooting him up. Why? Because I already knew he was going to die. The jarhead military just made it more annoying. I couldn't have any fun watching Kong tear the jarhead military a new one.

Watching this movie, I cannot tell you how many times I rubbed my face in frustration. The fact that it dumbfounded me so much, to the fact that I actually went out of my way to find people defending this movie, is just mind-numbing. It's like me, finding someone from the Avatar: The Last Airbender fanbase, defending that atrocious live-action movie made back in the day. I understand that we have guilty pleasures. I myself have them. I get a bit of a laugh watching John Travolra's performance in Battlefield Earth, but I'm not going to defend it because even I know that movie is a bad movie. I enjoy a good amount of films by Roland Emmerich, but they're heavily flawed, and that needs to be pointed out. One particular review I saw for this film, pointed out the flaws of this film, which heavily outweigh anything good...if there is anything good, and defended the movie, giving it a six out of ten. Really?

They went on to say that they did their best with their limited budget to make the best movie they possibly could to rival their 1976 remake. An attempt to up the ante. Well even that remake was flawed. It can be a fun watch, but it's not as good as some make it out to be. I'm going to compare this sequel to another Kong sequel, Son of Kong. Son of Kong was bland and forgettable, but it did its best to give us a fun adventure for what it was. One of the primary reasons it suffered was that it was rushed into production and rushed into theaters, getting released the same year as its predecessor. This 1976 remake had ten years to come up with a quality sequel. Something to give us. And it fucked up at almost every turn. Not even the film's trailer makes it look any good. That blasted tagline "America's biggest hero is back" shown a total of four times, before being spoken a fifth time, to uninteresting scenes and atrocious music, it's a trailer that practically says, "Hey, you wanna see an awful movie? Here's one!" I cannot properly describe every problem I have with this movie, like how none of the original cast members return, nor do we know what became of them. Or how almost any question I had regarding story was never answered. Or how the government had practically zero involvement with the story at all. The most I saw was this signed document by the Secretary of Defense, allowing them to visit the female ape in captivity, before the jarhead military gives the finger to everyone and locks the place down. With so many faults, so many really fixable problems, I cannot defend a score of six out of ten. Not by a long shot. My rating will be much worse.

This movie had zero entertainment for me. It gave me zero reasons to be interested. It gave me zero laughs, even in an unintentional fashion. It gave me zero reasons to want to go back and watch it. And it is for this reason and more, that King Kong Lives will be the first movie I've ever reviewed to get the lowest rating I can give. Nothing. This is one of the worst movies I've ever seen. I can't even get angry at it, because from the start, I knew this one wasn't gonna be any good. Five minutes in, I was just counting the problems. Nothing of any quality saves this movie. The soundtrack wasn't bad, but it doesn't carry the movie in the way the soundtrack in say, Star Trek: The Motion Picture would. You can tell the actors are trying, but the movie they're in and the blandness of their characters didn't make me care once. When your movie does so little to keep my interest, so little to keep me from wanting to do something else, you can bet your movie will get a big fat zero in my book. And I'm sure some of you who found some saving graces in this film will try to convince me otherwise. But to put it bluntly for you...I don't care. If you find this film as a guilty pleasure, all the more power to you. Just keep it far away from me. I don't want to touch this movie ever again.

Please feel free to request any film you'd like me to take a look at down below. Leave a comment reviewing your own thoughts and feelings about the film, and as always, thanks for reading.

Well now that that shitty movie is finally behind me, I feel so much better. Like it is a relief to finally be done with this movie, you guys have no idea. Now I gotta figure out what I wanna do with the DVD copy I painfully had to buy to watch this. I don't know yet. But I'm telling you guys, there's no way it can get any worse than King Kong Lives in this marathon I'm putting myself in. So see you guys next week when we review a lost cartoon movie in the Kong franchise. An animated musical featuring the voice of Ariel from The Little Mermaid, "The Mighty Kong". See you next week.

Final Verdict: 0/4

Thursday, February 2, 2017

THROWBACK REVIEW: King Kong (1976)

1976 was a huge year for Kong. After getting the rights, film producer Dino De Laurentiis would approach director John Guillermin to direct his very own adaptation of King Kong. The resulting publicity which would develop around this picture, made it one of the most hyped films of its time. If you wanna picture a world without social media, crazy fandoms and other things that factor into film hype, you might get an idea over just how excited people were over this film. The promotions, the merchandising.  It was on magazine covers, drinking glasses, burger commercials, lunch boxes, it even had its own drink! You can tell that they really were anticipating something huge with this picture. Another thing that caught everyone's attention was that the iconic climax was going to take place atop the then, very new twin towers of the World Trade Center (this move alone influenced some false marketing on the newest American Release of Godzilla VS Megalon, who had the film poster showing the two monsters battling atop the Trade Center). And as I read, it had a very distinctive tagline to get the viewers attention: "There is still only one King Kong." That tagline alone should really reach out to any fan of Kong. And this was the time of the blockbuster. Jaws had come out a year prior to this, and Star Wars was one year away. Kong's remake would ultimately prove to be a very decent success at the box office, and honestly, on paper this movie sounds wonderful.

A modern remake of King Kong. Just think of the possibilities in that idea. King Kong, set in 1976. I'm on board already. And I will give credit where credit is due. You can tell by the time you press play that they did everything they could to make this remake stand out on its own. The opening act of this movie is absolutely wonderful, and ironically enough, it wasn't until Kong was introduced to the film, that I began to see the problems. A lot of these problems are superficial, but they build up to the point where you're unsure what to think of this movie. Is it good? Is it bad? I'm right there with you. My best answer to you there is, the movie's not bad...but it could have been WAY better.

The opening for this movie again is wonderful. Where the original focuses on a film crew, intent on make this daring adventure of a picture, this film focuses instead on an expedition party hoping to find a vast source of oil on this mysterious island. Led by Fred Wilson (the Carl Denham of the movie), he's putting everything on the line in hopes of making a huge oil strike. On this journey, we're also introduced to stowaway Jack Prescott (Jack Driscoll) and Dwan (Ann Darrow) whom they rescue at sea. Getting to know these characters before they reach the island can be fun, and I can certainly say that the people who portray them, from Jeff Bridges, to Jessica Lange do a good job with their characters. Sure there's a little campy humor, but it does have its own little charm. My biggest gripe with them at certain points is that the characters don't exactly feel that developed. One thing I must also address is that I believe this movie has the best portrayal of the island natives that I've seen in any of these movies. It's not as realistic or crazy as Peter Jackson's remake, but nowhere near as stereotypical as the original film. And though I'll address this more when I review the movie, I never really cared for Jackson's portrayal of the Natives. I loved the costumes here. I loved the rituals. The sacrifice scene is arguably the best scene of the movie. I loved the portrayal of the Natives all around. It's things like this the film hammers. It just straight up hits the target, and really gets you into the mood of the picture. And speaking of the mood, the musical score of this picture isn't half bad either.  There are a lot of times the music has such a presence in this film, such as with the Natives. But unfortunetaly, this is all before we see the first glimpses of Kong himself. Once Kong appears, things start to get hazy.

How is Kong? Like Toho, and Queen Kong, this movie went with a suit to portray Kong. And after watching three different companies attempting to portray Kong in a suit, I'm gonna lay it on the table for you. Kong just isn't gonna be convincing if you're gonna portray him with an ape suit. There's something missing. I will say that the suit doesn't look terrible, as it does in the Toho films or Queen Kong, but it's still not that convincing. Another thing that stands out is his roar. It's...wonderful. But at the same time it can be so damn annoying. Especially when it's drawn out as it can be (like during the climax). It really is a roar I really want to like, but there are times I just want to turn the volume down, or just yell out, "Oh my God, shut up!" It likely didn't help that the production team I guess was almost always on ends with each other. Where one was satisfied, the other wasn't and it can really show in this movie.

Another thing that stands out in almost all the wrong ways is Skull Island. Because...what is Skull Island? It's Kong's home. A mysterious island full of adventure, mystery, and of course, danger at every corner. And I don't believe I've ever seen such a bland setup for Skull Island in my life. It does a really good job building up the island, with it being hidden by this thick fog bank, and of course it hammers the island natives to a T, but after that, it's all downhill. Once our heroes go out in search of Dwan, there's really...not a lot that happens. The lush jungles are replaced by a lifeless forest, which can transform at times into this place that better resembles the surface of the moon. While at times this can be kinda cool, it is absolutely devoid of any life. Which isn't what Skull Island should be. And the biggest complaint here? There are absolutely NO dinosaurs. No monsters! Except for this one giant snake that Kong fights for roughly two minutes. Now you compare the numerous fights Kong had in the 1933 film to this and tell me what movie depicted Skull Island better. QUEEN KONG had dinosaurs. And sure they were shit, but it at least gave us something resembling Skull Island. I understand this film was trying to be its own thing, but it didn't even try with Skull Island. In a Kong movie, I don't think that's something I can look at lightly.

One thing this film did do somewhat good with however was the relationship between Kong and Dwan. Like other Kong movies, it attempts to put together this relationship between beauty and the beast. It's not perfect, and there are a few scenes that some might find rather awkward, but for the most part, I thought the film did a decent job with this little aspect. I particularly liked one part where Kong takes Dwan to a waterfall, and allows her to wash herself, before he attempts to dry her off. It's not a perfect scene, but I thought it had a little charm. It's small things like this that do keep me watching despite the numerous problems that begin to arise with this film after Kong shows up.

And of course...we gotta talk about the climax. Because I don't think a Kong climax has ever been so underwhelming. Despite such an incredible setup. Kong is of course captured and brought to New York to...perform in this circus owned by the oil company? I have no idea what their idea here is. And he wastes no time escaping the circus act (Literally, as soon as the guy says the cage he's in is escape-proof, Kong is tearing it apart. Was it made by Acme?), and going on an actually pretty fun rampage of the city. I loved how he tore the roofs off of trains and whatnot. It's a city rampage that's really kinda fun to watch, before we of course see him climbing not the Empire State Building, but the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

This was a move that was borderline genius. When the movie came out in 1933, the Empire State Building had only been open about two years. When this came out, the twin towers were also rather new, only open about five years. So giving them a little screen time was a good move. Unfortunetaly, the actual climax itself in which Kong fights off these military helicopters is...not that exciting. Through it all, he just kinda stands there getting shot into a bloody mess, in a surge of bad effects, and annoying roars. I also feel that the ending of this film just kinda feels pointless. There is no "beauty killed the beast" quote, it just kinda ends with our lead roles sad that Kong is dead. Really nothing more and nothing less.

Truth be told, I keep going back and forth on this movie. I want to like it. I really do. It's not perfect, but if you want a fun fact, this was the first Kong movie I ever saw. My mom actually kinda really likes this movie. I saw the entire climax, and it introduced me to King Kong. This movie is responsible for my love of giant monsters. Yet there's just so much missing. It's got heart, it's got a good cast, a good setup...but a lot of pieces to this puzzle are missing, which brings me to my final Verdict, issued with tough love.

I'm giving the 1976 Dino De Laurentiis remake of King Kong a two and a half star rating. It is way too much of a hit or miss film for me to score it any higher, but it doesn't deserve a lower rating. It needs to be said that I did enjoy watching this. And this is a movie I considered apart the worst giant monsters at one point. Perhaps I need to move it off the list now? For all I know, one more viewing of the film will make me hate it again. I don't know. But for what it is right now, I think this is one I can safely say is an interesting watch to say the least. If you're curious, you'll likely find something fun. There's still only one Kong alright, but I'm not gonna say it's in this film.

Please feel free to suggest any movies you'd like to see me review. Leave a comment down below expressing your own thoughts of the movie, and as always, thanks for reading.

Next week...(sigh) we take a look at the sequel to this film. Job me next week for King Kong Lives, a film said to be soonest the worst of the worst.

Final Verdict: 2.5/4