Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Son of Kong (1933)

Ill-conceived sequel to KING KONG, which was such a hit for RKO in 1933 that the studio rushed this film into production for a Christmas release the same year! Despite the return of director Ernest B. Schoedsack and most of the same production crew as the first film, as well as actors Robert Armstrong, Frank Reicher and Victor Wong, it falls far short of the original: the script is poorly constructed, lacking the suspense and pace of the original (undermined by silly moments of cartoonish humor), and the effects work feels decidedly rushed and slapdash at times, with the encounters between baby Kong and the various dinosaurs playing like rehashes of superior scenes from the first film.

Still, it's difficult to be too harsh on the film, as it has a good deal of charm, especially with the friendship that develops between Denham and the little ape whose father he took away, and the tender relationship between Denham and the girl he rescues after her own father dies. Both of these relationships provide a nice character arc from the first film, as Denham shows a guilty conscience for his earlier actions, and develops a protective instinct toward both baby Kong and the girl.

Despite its shortcomings, it represents the work of a phenomenal collection of talented artists, even if they were working under hurried conditions and at half the budget of the first film, and for that reason is of interest as an important film in the history of special effects.

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