An underrated failure of a remake.
The popular label stamped on this film is that it is a failure. While
this is true, there are certain good elements that are present here
and, in terms of which, are superior to the original.
In the original classic, Ann Darrow, the damsel in distress, had no
good feelings whatsoever for the unfortunate giant ape. Her function in
the story was to be carried about, and of course, scream. This remake,
however, is more developed as a drama. Kong is treated more as a
character, rather than a destroying machine that happens to have a
certain baffling attraction for blonds. Ann is also portrayed more as a
character than an object that screams, and she develops a liking for
Kong that allows this film to be openly touching. And the eccentric who
captures and brings Kong to the civilized world is appropriately
portrayed as the scoundrel he should be.
But the problem is, King Kong is not just any old love story. What is
lacking in the remake is action. While the original Kong spent half the
movie beating up an impressive collection of fanged death, this film
contains only one other monster, which, after a very brief and very
boring struggle, never shows its very boring self again. The quality of
the effects is also very bad. Although they are in colour, they are, in
all practicality, inferior to that of the original, which was already
over forty years old at the time.
Another potential problem is that this film, on top of the lack of
action, ended up a little too serious than need be. One element is
that, what was a film-making expedition in the original, was turned
into a corporate-run oil expedition. While this is no problem in
itself, it strays a little too far from the fact that King Kong is not
expected to be anything more than entertainment. Personally, I feel
that this message of how dangerous corporate society can be is a very
good and important one, but in this movie it lacks the ominous subtlety
I believe best fit for it (as in the earlier "Alien" movies, for
example), and, as if aware of the fans who don't want a story too dark,
it seems to be only half-heartedly pursued. The effect is that it comes
out a little deliberate and cheesy.
All in all, the good thing about this movie is that it puts emphasis on
the drama. The bad thing is that that is all it pays attention to. It
was a very good try, but to sum up the mistakes of this movie, while
the drama of King Kong is what mostly makes it distinguishable from
other monster flicks, this story is simply not allowed to be just a
drama. The lord of all monster movies is, after all, a monster movie.
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