Friday, December 09, 2005

Return of the King Kong

When I was a mere tot o' five living in Fort Bayou Estates in Ocean Springs, MS (before it became a gambling mecca and now currently suffers from the after-effects of Katrina), the first real movies I ever got to see were Godzilla movies. Godzilla on Monster Island was my first movie at the cinema ever. I think it cost a buck and a quarter for adults to get in, and three quarters for me. I remember the theater sold hot dogs and big pickles as well as popcorn, candy, and sodas. In retrospect, the movie was really bad with a man plodding around in a giant lizard suit, but I LOVED it. Godzilla, being the first movie actor/monster/hero I had ever seen, instantly burned into my conscience as my favorite. As bad as the Godzilla movies are, a deep affection still remains for them. I used to stay up on Friday nights in my early teens to watch Shock Theater whenever a Godzilla flick showed. I loved seeing him take down Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster (also called Monster Zero), Megalon, or Mechagodzilla any time I could.

Well, as I grew, I saw other monster flicks, but I always cheered for Godzilla. Later on, after we had moved to Colorado Springs when I was nine (1976), my family went to see Dino de Laurentis' version of King Kong, which starred a young Jessica Lange as the heroine along with Jeff Bridges and Charles Grodin. The whole movie really fell flat for me, and as a nine year old, I carried a genuine dislike for Kong, especially relative to my favorite fire-laser-breathing lizard-man. The old black-and-white King Kong from the 1930s, the one Peter Jackson was so entranced by, didn't do much for me either.

It wasn't until after the de Laurentis Kong that I finally saw the 1962 movie King Kong Versus Godzilla, which actually had been released years before most of the movies I had seen. Now, as an American, I should have be rooting for Kong in this one, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. And I was so mad in the end when King Kong prevailed over my monster hero, especially as I was in the company of pals who had been telling me King Kong was tougher than Godzilla (which I would have bet all the money I had at the time, probably about two bucks, on Godzilla winning that fight), that I kicked out my friends and vowed never to watch that movie again. The fact that it was just a movie never dawned on any of us: only that they were right and I was wrong. Grrrrrrr.

Well, now I'm older, and as anyone who has read my posts on this blog can attest, I'm far, far more mature, light-years even. And over time, my zeal for Godzilla has waned some, and King Kong, by virtue of its story, actually has some appeal for me.

So what I'm looking for out of this movie - and if this review's (a tilt of my porkpie cap to Quaid at Thinklings for the link) is any indication, I'll get - is a King Kong I can root for over Godzilla. I'm still not sure, even though I have a TON of faith in Jackson after what he did with LOTR, probably because I'm not enthralled with the cast. Naomi Watts... Jack Black... I don't know. Not necessarily first line favorites for me. But that is what I'm hoping for, because once I get a King Kong I can cheer for over the ultra cool (to me - albeit cheesy to most) Godzilla, I plan to get a copy of that old 1962 film and see if my team wins this time.

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