King Kong

King Kong ★★★★

My roommate and I, generally starved for film spectacle (perhaps disappointing my more critical self a few years removed), are prepping an informal watchlist for Godzilla vs. Kong, of which we settled on this being the first as a means of exploring the cinematic evolution of both monsters (and playing catchup on some MonsterVerse stuff).

Irrespective of the context I watched this, however, I find a lot to admire in the 1933 rendition of cinema's most famous great ape. Yes, it's thoroughly a product of its time insofar as its narrative (which is probably not intentionally retrograde in my view) is filtered through the lens of 1930's racial and gender sensibilities, but it's a film whose sheer command of pacing and spectacle help it overpower the thin thematic interior. Though I'm aware it's a pre-Hays Code era work, I and my roommate were both taken aback by the sheer ruthlessness of the violence in this film, between the carnage enacted by the creatures of Skull Island and Kong's romp through New York. Its unexpected bursts given the technical and cultural limitations of it time lend it a lot more gravitas than many modern blockbusters, insofar as what it accomplishes within its temporal confine proves impressive as cinematic history but also as it likely pushed the envelope for the types of spectacles seen today. Traces of its DNA fluorish across many of the best American blockbusters today, and for good reason.

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