Wednesday, October 7, 2009

King Kong (1976)

This first KING KONG remake from 1976 pushes the limits of the physical FX capabilities of the time, boasting an impressive and convincing Kong realized as a costumed character rather than the claymation that preceded it or the computerized beast that would follow decades later. The costume and animatronic face bring the legend to life, drawing empathy from the audience in its emotive eyes and gestures. While the FX hold up well now 30 years later, the limitations of working strictly in camera are also apparent in many scenes and missing footage; the epic battle between Kong and the dinosaurs has been compromised and replaced by a cheap rubber snake, and some of the arm movements edited over the green-screening don't match the body movement. Even so, the make-up work is incredible for the time. This version of the story finds an oil miner setting off to a mysterious island in search of the next motherload, when he discovers a stowaway Paleontologist on board that has sneaked on ship to find proof of a mythical ape that may inhabit the island. Along the way, they come across a stranded raft carrying a beautiful aspiring actress, and from there the party sets off to discover the giant ape that would later terrorize New York once the team decides it is more profitable to bring home than the oil they originally sought after. While Bridges and Grodin can be over the top at times, each of the players in the film offer strong performances that show some semblance of the original while distinguishing themselves as unique characters. Newcomer Lange is quirky and innocent, but is able to garner the audience's sympathy for the beast through their mutual affection by the end of the picture. The film is technically proficient in nearly every respect, with superior costuming, set design, and cinematography, but while it is an entertaining effort, it does not have the same strength or impact as the original film. It is a very good effort, and it has aged pretty well, so it is sure to appeal to any fans of the giant ape.

Rating: 8/10.
Number of views: 1.



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10 comments:

  1. I actually -hate- this one and I consider it a big steaming pile of monkey poop. And that, sir, is my professional opinion. *raspberry* ;p

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  2. Ack you cant just sneak in like a ninja and leave me on the edge like that, please elaborate sir =D

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  3. For me the absolute best part of the film is the cinematography. Some of those island shots are breathtaking. The score is good as well. However, as much as was spent on the picture doesn't excuse a big rubber snake (that looks just that) and some awful composite shots at the end when it appears the copters are firing away from Kong as opposed to firing at him.

    The Shaw Brothers MIGHTY PEKING MAN (1977) which was in production at the same time, is a far better, much more lovable giant ape movie. And it had one thing Dino's movie doesn't have: the half naked jungle girl played by Evelyn Kraft.

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  4. Annnnnnnd off to add that to the que =D

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  5. Agreed with venoms5 on "MIGHTY PEKING MAN". As far as my distaste for this shitty iteration of Kong, it just feels wrong somehow. I've seen it several times in bits and pieces and always felt like I should be really watching a -good- version of it instead, either the original or the Jackson one is even fine with me. My disillusionment is very hard to describe, I guess, but mostly it's 'cuz I don't care for Jessica Lange.

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  6. I can accept that, it ranks 4th now that Ive seen KONG ESCAPES, but I still had fun with it. KING KONG LIVES was just all sorts of WTF, but for the time I thought this one did pretty well. Cept for the snake. Stupid snake..

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  7. I still have a pocket making of book for this one and it's overloaded with all kinds of back patting from the makers and stars of the film. They were really hyping that clunky 40 foot robot that you only see for about 2 seconds....and for good reason.

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  8. At which point in the film is the robot used as opposed to the guy in the money suit? Its easy to spot the robotic arms, but was there a point where the entire character was a robot?

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  9. When he was breaking out of the cage towards the end. You only see it for a few seconds but they built a 40 foot robotic Kong for the movie and had planned to use it more but when it became obvious it wasn't gonna perform properly it was only used sparingly. I'd have to dig out the making of book from the time to see just how much was spent on it.

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  10. I figured that to be the case, that was probably the most upsetting scene to me, since it was a complete let down compared to the strength of the theater setting in the original

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