July 12, 2015

King Kong (1976)

Review #726: King Kong.

Jeff Bridges (Jack Prescott), Charles Grodin (Fred S. Wilson), Jessica Lange (Dwan), John Randolph (Captain Ross), Rene Auberjonois (Roy Bagley), Ed Lauter (Carnahan), Julius Harris (Boan), and Jack O'Halloran (Joe Perko) Directed by John Guillermin.

If you want to promote your remake of a 1933 classic (#283), here's a good tag line: The most exciting original motion picture event of all time. Granted, this movie is about as original as a baloney sandwich trying to call itself a ham sandwich, but it certainly has a good ring to it, especially when produced by Dino De Laurentiis. Let me make this perfectly clear from the beginning: If it's between this and the original film, stick to the original film. But it could be argued that this film knows that going in, so it tries to do something different, with a campier tone, 130 minutes, and actual filming locations instead of stages. Carlo Rambaldi designed the effects for this film, and he helped construct a 40 foot mechanical version of Kong, which shows up (briefly) near the end of the movie. It's clear that the movie wants to show the technical aspect and then build characters around that. In a way, it works, although the end product is not exactly as grand as it could've been. The motivations and plot are updated into a quest for oil, which I suppose is creative, though it ends the same way as the original...At least they include Kong's heartbeat before he dies, so that's something new. How the cast does depends on what you (the viewer) want: If you like the idea of campy infused people interacting around the main attraction (Kong), go for it. For me, they're okay. They just seem to get in the way half of the time, though Bridges and Grodin (all fashion and hair aside) seem to do okay. Bridges' character cheering for Kong taking down the helicopters is strange, considering he's seen Kong throw people off a log into a pit, crush people on the ground, and throwing debris towards people. And yet, he cheers him as if he's done nothing wrong. If you don't want Lange's character to be eaten, then that's a good thing for you. Like the original, this film's effects are a product of their time, and for most of the movie, Kong looks relatively good, without much light shown, anyway. Near the end it looks a little more fake, but the movie doesn't linger too much on that. No, it lingers more on just about everything else, from the oil to Bridges-Lange, etc. John Barry's music is a highlight. Take this movie for what it is: A jumbled flow of effects and 70's style filmmaking that can be hit or miss. For me, it's sometimes enjoyable, but other times it's just okay.

Overall, I give it 6 out of 10 stars.

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