Monday 30 April 2018

3 - Kong

King Kong (1976) - Yes, I like this movie. It's well-directed. It actually engages in a way the Toho movies do not. Everyone is energetic and has guts in their performance. Even Jessica Lange isn't bad. Yes, I know she got acting lessons afterwards which helped to make her the universally beloved actress she is today, but she's likeable. She's better than the average doe-eyed ingenue you expect from such a role. Grodin and Rene Auberjonois ham it up, but it's Lorenzo Semple writing, so it's good solid camp. And it's daft, not stupid, which the Toho films frequently are. People give out about it because it's not the 1933 original, but it couldn't be. Yes, it's not stop motion, but Rick Baker gives probably the best kaiju suit performance. He's not a stuntman going mad like the Toho films do. It's a real movie not the sub-Gerry Anderson/Eurospy/Irwin Allen teleseries nonsense of King Kong Escapes, with soulless dubbed overcooked performances and only the odd piece of impressive modelwork to lift it.  Then again, King Kong Escapes is based on a Rankin/Bass TV show. Unlike most of the Toho films, with De Laurentiis, there's no half-assing. Some of it is hard to follow, as a lot was cut (the wrong bits - some of it is quite stretched especially on the voyage home and it could easily be ninety minutes), but it's entertaining. I think it's because you had people who actually tried, with the Toho films, you get the impression it was a TV series essentially, churning out endless identikit films.  And it mentions Rudolf  Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn. And the idea that the Kong travelling show is presented as basically what the film was presented as (read the Creation of King Kong - it shows the effort they put into this thing) - this huge epic spectacle - a giant ape in a giant petrol pump. The climax is a bit long, and Kong swimming is ludicrous, but John Barry's score makes you believe in it.
It's better than Orca (1977  - RIP Michael Anderson) anyway, which needed Semple. Orca is played too seriously. It's played as a drama and not an adventure.
King Kong Lives (1986) on the other hand is cheaply made gash. The suits are ugly (future Glam Metal Detective/TV Burp/Comic Strip Presents semi-regular George Yiasoumi as Lady Kong), the plot uneventful  and the scenery unexciting. It's like a worse version of Baby - Secret of the Lost Legend.

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