Robin Solsjö Höglund’s review published on Letterboxd:
To celebrate the impending release of Kong: Skull Island I'm watching the two most notable versions of Kong, the 1933 original and the 2005 Peter Jackson remake. I am skipping the rest, including Son of Kong, King Kong vs. Godzilla, King Kong Escapes, the 1976 King Kong, and King Kong Lives.
This movie made me think. White men travel to the deep jungle, throw a mysterious "monster" into their cargo hold and ship it back to America in chains, display it to all the world as their own little pet, and then it breaks loose and goes on a wild rampage because it falls in love with a white woman, and their cops gladly shoot it to death! Not to mention that the black and white and colored versions of the film are segregated on the disc! Ape Lives Matter!
In all seriousness, this is a seminal film, but it has aged. I am still holding onto my old crap DVD (I finally ordered a proper Blu-ray version tonight, mostly because I'm really curious about the wealth of bonus features), and it takes its sweet time to get going. The effects are obviously silly by today's standards, but when it opened almost exactly 84 years ago it would've been an interesting thing to marvel at. Even the original review by Variety from the time mentions the effects as "machine-like" (and spoils the entire fucking movie I might add, haha), but I think people then probably responded to it the way we do to big effects movies today: impressive but perhaps a bit hollow.
I'll be honest, I've seen this many times before and I didn't exactly sit locked to the screen tonight, but I own it and enjoy it more as a preservation piece, something that takes you back to a simpler time when huge special effects weren't yet taken for granted. I think when the Blu-ray arrives I'll probably appreciate the bonus features more than the actual film itself, but it still has a place in my movie library, even if it does grow less exciting to watch with every passing year.