Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Dinosaur Movies: Part 3

When King Kong proved to be a huge hit for RKO Studios, the executives in charge quite naturally wanted a sequel as soon as possible. This was rushed through production and arrived in theaters before the end of 1933.

The character of Carl Denhem, running from countless lawsuits brought against him after Kong's rampage through the Big Apple, runs off to the South Pacific. Not surprisingly, circumstances soon bring him back to Skull Island.

Once there, he meets Kong Jr., a small (well, about 12 feet tall) albino version of his dad. He's not as grumpy as his dad, either. When a guilt-ridden Denham helps save little Kong from a pit of quicksand, the ape returns the favor by saving Denham and his friends from several different monsters.


Son of Kong doesn't have any thing close to the dramatic power of King Kong, but it's a fun film all the same. It's a little too slow in getting started and its increased emphasis on humor sometimes falls flat. Also, the ending is somewhat contrived, invovling the most conveniently timed earthquake ever. But little Kong's fights against a small sauropod and a cave bear are both imaginatively choreographed. Special effects wizard Willis O'Brien wasn't happy with the movie, but the quality of his work is still enormously high.

Making a sequel to a great film is always a dangerous proposition--the filmmakers have so much to live up to. If we compare Son of Kong with the King Kong in terms of overall quality, then the later film doesn't stand up at all.

But if we look at it for what it is--a good B-movie with some nifty stop-motion fight scenes--then it holds up perfectly well. It has the same sense of pure, simple fun infused through it as did the B-movie detective films of the same decade.

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