31 March 2014 | utgard14
"You'll never catch a monkey that way."
Following the events of King Kong, director Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) finds himself being sued right and left for all the damage Kong did. To add to his troubles, he discovers a grand jury is about to indict him so he sets sail with Captain Englehorn (Frank Reicher). These are the only two of the main cast members from the first film to return. Eventually the two run across the man who sold Denham the map to Skull Island and he tells Denham there is treasure on the island that they left behind when they captured Kong. So they all return to Skull Island, along with a pretty stowaway (Helen Mack). Once there, they find an albino "Little Kong," the son of Kong from the first picture.
Obviously this was a rushed production. It was written, shot, and released the same year as King Kong. In many ways it feels like a B movie. It takes over forty minutes of this barely over an hour movie for Little Kong to show up. Out of those forty minutes, there's maybe ten or fifteen minutes of necessary story. The rest is filler. When Little Kong does show up, it's not that impressive. He's played mostly for laughs, at times resembling the Bumble from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer! But he does have some nice fight scenes with dinosaurs and a giant bear.
Robert Armstrong reportedly liked this movie more than King Kong. If that's true then it probably speaks to Mr. Armstrong's vanity since he got to be the romantic leading man and hero for this one. He's likable and his performance is fine but Carl Denham being made into the hero is one of the many problems with this movie. Denham's rough edges are what made him such a good character in the first film. Softened up, he's a rather bland character and a poor fit for leading man. Helen Mack is no Fay Wray but she's very attractive and does about as well as can be expected given the weak script. Willis O'Brien's special effects are not surprisingly the highlight of the picture. Ernest B. Schoedsack returns to direct, although noticeably without Merian C. Cooper, who is only an executive producer on this one.
Doing sequels is tricky business, then and now. Even more so when you're following up one of the greatest films of all time. The truth is King Kong didn't need any sequels. But greed always wins out in Hollywood. Is Son of Kong a bad sequel? Yes, of course. I don't see how that could be disputed. Is it a bad movie? Not really. It's watchable and even entertaining in spots. But the specter of its predecessor is always looming over it.