And who knew that in a black and white film like 1933's King Kong RKO Radio Pictures could see so much green that they'd demand a rushed-to-production sequel, released the very same year as the iconic debut of daddy? Who knew that Carl Denham could see the same shade of green, and return to the Skull Island in search of buried treasure?
Who could blame him? After old Big Paw caused more people to run in fear down Broadway than the opening of Seussical and caused a Mechagodzilla-load of property damage, Denham was ruined, ruined I tells ya! Our boy is on the run from creditors and reporters alike. If you ask me, he shouldn't be too hard to track down with a bull horn voice like Robert Armstrong's on him. The man may never need a microphone. However, he might need a ride out of town, courtesy of fellow pariah Captain Englehorn (Frank Reicher), who's ship did the bringin' of the big boy in the first place. Together they embark on a port-by-port world tour, worthy of Ernest B. Schoedsack and Merian C. Cooper!
Their luck scarcely changes, though, and before long they, along with the man with the original Skull Island map (John Marston's Helstrom), Charlie (Victor Wong) the Chinese Cook and a beautiful new stowaway named Hilda (Helen Mack) are set adrift by a crew with mutiny on their minds and fleas in their beards. The concept of a bunch of long sailin' sea farers setting adrift the only beautiful female they've seen in months is almost as far fetched as what happens next!
Luckily, Denham, Helstrom, Englehorn, Hilda and the 30's clichÚ walking stereotype all wanted to go back to Skull Island anyway, contenders to find a king's ransom in ancient treasure, probably hidden there by the Dharma Initiative. There, instead of the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815, they find the Scion of Kong himself! He's big, he's bad, he's daring... and he's white!
Yep, Mr. Double Strike-Out himself left an albino kid hanging around by himself (there must be a hell of a babysitting bill, 'cause big momma is nowhere to be found). Son of Kong's not as big as the King, but he is bigger than the Beatles! Interestingly enough, he doesn't seem to have the bipolar disorder that the big guy had either, because after Carl and Hilda rescue him from quicksand, be becomes their friend and conscience, like a 15 foot tall Jiminy Cricket, but without the song library.
What follows are much of the same things you remember from the island scenes of the original King Kong. The effects, matting and combination of visual effect methods is as spot on as the first film, and we see more dinosaur fights, more big-ass animal battles and more lavish surprises. Joining their King Kong Alumni are the Special Effects team of Harry Redmond Jr. and Harry Redmond Sr., who helped bring both King Kong and King Kong Junior to life. But let's not forget who they had to answer to on this one... none other than "Obie" O'Brien himself!
Sadly, there is also more racial insensitivity, more 1930's jargon and more loud mouthed 1930's conventions. It does manage to be a cute and fun movie, and it's still pretty striking to see what they managed to pull out of their hats. However, the ending feels a lot like director Schoedsack and writer Ruth Rose (in real life a married couple) simply got tired of working together and rushed to the credit sequence for some alone time.
It's all playful fun, and while the occasional slapstick or goof ball moment lends this film more to the cartoonish than the horrific, there's really not a whole hell of a lot wrong with it. Besides, this was the last actual Kong film until Dad got "Big in Japan" with King Kong Vs Godzilla, thirty years later. Soak him up now! Three Stars out of Five for "Little Kiko Kong" and his first, and last, foray onto the big screen, Son of Kong. There is no question that they probably should have left well enough alone, and let Kong be the stand alone classic that it is. But, this is no "dog", and if a sequel had to be made, it's a resounding positive that the original originators were the ones to bring it to the screen.
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Now that its been released on DVD and I can drink it in until I've groked it all, it's time for a review for you.
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