We’re already about 45 minutes in, but we’re here for the monsters. While the first film addressed greed, Son of Kong takes on the relationship between man and beast. Our heroes soon discover Kong may have had a son (thus the title). Denham and Hilda find him stuck in a pit of quicksand, and Denham saves his life. Throughout the film, he finds ways to make up for the tragic fate he orchestrated for Kong.
I recently reviewed The Lost World, and in comparison, the monster animation was superior in The Lost World. The characters were more highly articulated, and the monster’s movements felt real… for giant monsters. In Son of Kong, the action felt clunky, though the film’s focus is really on Kong’s facials. In Son of Kong, Junior puts on a much more emotional performance, and the sound design, eye movements, and facial articulation pulls it off, which is a fair trade-off for the problems with the creature movements.
“…Junior puts on a much more emotional performance…”
Son of Kong has all the markings of a sequel, though there weren’t exactly many sequels made in 1933. The film brings back the original cast and crew and drops many references from the first film as shortcuts to connect us to the story. What it does right is tell a different, more emotional story regarding these giant apes. There is a greater feeling of love and admiration in Son of Kong versus the drama and tension of the first, which is why most people don’t talk about the sequel. The stakes, though big, are not as big as the first.
I should mention that the filmmakers, to their credit, actually hired an Asian actor (Victor Wong) for all Asian speaking roles (yes, all of them). He was especially good as the chef. Ah, win some, lose some.
Son of Kong was released three months after the original, which means it was mostly greenlit in conjunction with the first. King Kong is a story of tragedy, and Son of Kong is a story of redemption. The more significant discussion would be who’s redemption is it, and in 2021… was it really redemption?
"…Son of Kong is a story of redemption."