King Kong

King Kong ★★½

An immortal & influential beast of a spectacle that truly was a cinematic achievement of its time, King Kong has inspired countless films & filmmakers since its release and is considered by many to be the definitive monster movie. Looking back today, the technical breakthroughs are still admirable despite the dated effects but same cannot be said about its plot or characters as not a single person in this fable is worthy of any emotional investment.

Directed by Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack, the setup is quick and the build-up until the reveal of Kong is properly handled. But where it loses its potency is in the character drama which isn't compelling enough. What keeps things afloat is the pioneering stop-motion animation that helped bring the filmmaker's vision to life on screen. It is an adventure spectacle and it delivers on that scale, not to mention that for a film of its era, it is surprisingly dark & gruesome.

Among the characters, only the titular creature manages to garner our interest and his arc is tragic & heartbreaking. The trio of humans the film puts its spotlight on are either uninteresting or despicable. Performances from Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong & Bruce Cabot are as one-note as their respective characters are one-dimensional. The romance angle played between Wray & Cabot has no spark at all, and the way it is presented is hilariously bad. Max Steiner's music however is a definite plus.

Overall, King Kong will remain a mainstay in pop culture due to its cinematic legacy & monstrous appeal but its drama & characterisation are a product of their time and haven't aged well at all. The technical innovations are no doubt groundbreaking but all those special effects scenes look so cartoonish & absurd today that the intended seriousness of those sequences never takes hold, and one can't help but find those moments funny & laughable. Still, for its massive contribution to its genre & cinema as a whole, this classic is worth viewing.

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