Thursday, December 15, 2005

Son of Kong

In 1933 King Kong was the blockbuster of the year. People lined up to see it. According to IMDB, the movie grossed $1,700,000--this at a time when the average movie ticket cost about 25 cents! King Kong was pretty much the Star Wars or Titanic of its day. Such success naturally demanded a sequel. Son of Kong was rushed into production and released the same year. Sadly, it did not do as well at the box office as the original Kiong Kong.

Much of this is perhaps due to the fact that Son of Kong is simply not as good as King Kong. It does not have such iconic scenes as Kong's battle with the t rex, let alone his final moments atop the Empire State Building. And there is not nearly as much as action or excitement. That having been said, it is not a bad film. In fact, it is a rather good one that holds up well today.

Indeed, the movie is rather realistic in portraying the aftermath of Kong's romp through New York City. Filmmaker Carl Denham finds himself burdened with dozens of lawsuits and about to be indicted by a Grand Jury. Going into the shipping business in the East Indies, he eventually finds his way back to Skull Island where he encounters Kong's offspring.

If the film's reputation has suffered over the years, it is perhaps because of comparisons with the original King Kong. While King Kong moves the viewer swiftly to Skull Island, Son of Kong takes a while to get there. And while King Kong is nearly ninety minutes in length, Son of Kong is only about an hour long. Worse yet, while Kong occupies the screen for much of the first movie, his son only gets a little screen time in the second. Finally, while King Kong is definitely an action/adventure/horror movie, Son of Kong is played largely for comedy.

Here I should point out that it is unfair to compare Son of Kong to King Kong. The movie does stand up on its own. The movie moves at a fairly good pace and involves the viewer. Once the plot reaches Skull Island, there is no lack of excitement. Perhaps the movie's biggest flaw (besides the son of Kong being on so briefly) is that its ending is rather abrupt. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are exciting, but they bring this movie to an all too abrupt end.

Son of Kong is a must see for any fan of the original movie. It is also a good film (although I am not sure I would grant it "classic" status) that any fan of old movies should see.

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