King Kong

King Kong ★★★★½

Yep, King Kong still holds up.

Mainly as a total bang for your buck spectacle of monsters, dinosaurs, and the sight of a whole island untouched from human hands. It’s got a classical, thundering adventure spirit that makes it great fun all the way through with a chiseled hero who hates women and hilariously take part in casual misogyny, that has to save a beautiful bombshell in peril (who perhaps screams a little too much).

The real attraction here are the stop-motion effects and matte paintings that expand the scope of King Kong’s destruction and Skull Island in imaginative and excruciatingly detailed fashion. Every expression on the great ape’s face is so well-realized and articulated, from his looks of curiosity, fury, and lust, he’s a living character on screen that begs for sympathy despite all the people he eats.

Yeah of course the models are going to look fairly janky with a few instances of clumsy compositing, but the sweat and tears that went into creating such feats of special effects wizardry is evident in every frame. Even so, the aero plane Empire State Building Battle and T. Rex fight are ALL TIME set-pieces, as exciting to watch now they were in 1933. 

Is King Kong sexist? Probably. Is King Kong racist? Ehh, you could interpret it that way but the indigenous peoples could’ve been portrayed a lot worse considering the time period. Their role is just to be collateral damage like a lot of the white folk and they’re not necessarily looked down upon.

Gruesome, glitzy, and glamorous, King Kong is a tremendous American spectacle like no other despite its many imitators and gave birth to one of fictions most enduring characters.

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