If there is one thing I would like to say to any young person wanting to be a legit, respected movie goer, it is that special effects are not the most important thing for a movie. The recent “Godzilla” had great special effects, but it hardly showed Godzilla at all in the story. Sure, “Avatar” was ground breaking, but its story was predictable (it was basically “Dances with Wolves”). And the “Transformers” movies? Well, don’t get me started.
This brings me to the original 1933 version of “King Kong”. I would argue this is the original film all special effects artists (including the late Stan Winston, who worked on “Jurassic Park”) look to for inspiration. A lot of the effects are dated (as you would expect, from a film made over 80 years ago). Still, you have to remember this was made back at a time when monster movies did not really exist. It was when movies had overtures (something we don’t see at all anymore), and when characters used the term “funny business”.
Still, the film does have some striking visuals. Consider the close ups you get of Kong (especially the first ones when he sees Anne Darrow, played wonderfully by Fay Wray). His face does not seem like it is robotic, but real, and full of emotion. Even the action scenes are not as bad as you may think. Sure, they may seem fake, but there are bits when I was still feeling thrilled. Look at the scene where Kong is shaking people off a log. You can feel yourself thinking “yeah, those guys are goners.”
All the background jungle scenes are easily missed, which is a shame, because they are breathtaking. My favorite scene is the fight with the main T-Rex (which was also done in the remake by Peter Jackson, which I felt was underrated). Words cannot describe its awesomeness, let alone that it feels real even after eight decades.
By the end, we know what will happen to Kong (we really already do before we start the film), but there are fewer scenes in celluloid more iconic than that of a giant ape on the empire state building. The film may be old, but it is still watchable. It’s special effects may not even scare the youngest of viewers, but I feel some young ones may still get a little freaked out.
For all those who feel that special effects are all that matters in movies, then it is true that beauty does, in fact, kill the beast. That is a true shame indeed.
Star Rating: 4 1/2 *