King Kong

King Kong ★★★★

"We came here to get a moving picture, and we've found something worth more than all the movies in the world."

Beauty and the Beast unite in 'King Kong,' the finest Kong film I've seen yet and one that's a technical delight for what it managed to accomplish in 1933. I was surprised by the really effective pacing that doesn't overstay its welcome like the tiring and overlong 2005 remake, keeping in all the essential bits while ramping up the brutality. This Kong is way more ruthless, cutting through anyone who stands in his way and he's not above grabbing an innocent woman out of her bed in the middle of the night and tossing her to the ground without a second thought.

It's not without its faults, though. The stop motion animation isn't always the sharpest and the lack of astonishment and disbelief from the crew as they stumble upon impossible sights and unimaginable creatures really took away from a lot of the twisty wonder the film introduces. Instead, they see the likes of dinosaurs, believed to be extinct for ages, and they instantly attack them with firearms and bombs instead; self-defense is one thing but those initial discoveries were really undersold.

Still, there's a lot of iconic imagery on display here - that first shot of the crew rowing to the beaches of Skull Island is breathtaking, I love the sinister shot of the Brontosaurus slowly disappearing into the water, and especially the finale as a whole, from Kong's up close shot while chewing on a human to the entire skyscraper sequence. Also, watching Kong wrestle with the giant log as the crew members fell violently to their deaths, hitting the valley below like ragdolls, was viciously unexpected. I'm glad this classic holds up so well for a first time viewing almost 90 years on and I can't imagine how visceral and action-packed this was for audiences at the time. I thoroughly enjoyed it overall.

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