Written by / 6/25/2018 / No comments / , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

JEFF BRIDGES 'KING KONG: THE LEGEND REBORN' JESSICA LANGE

Jessica Lange takes a shower with her new big beau YEAR: 1976
The first half is fantastic: a creative set-up with the famous story altered where oil speculator Charles Grodin seeks the fog-surrounded island as a possible origin for that gushy stuff that keeps planes flying and cars running...

Jeff Bridges, as a "hippie" stowaway who bribes his way aboard the ship/freighter, knows the island has a big secret, and yet even he's not sure exactly what... Had another actor been cast in this preachy photographer role, liking and even thinking he understands simians over humans (especially the 11th hour American Military in Copters that he voraciously cheers upon their destruction), would be annoying and/or pretentious, even cliché: Given his film credits before and after, it's no surprise that Bridges can be just cool enough to add a tinge of pulpy action hero to the hairy modern do-gooder...

KingKongScore: ****
And after what are the best scenes occurring on-the-way to Skull Island, he's part of, along with the mostly doomed search party on land that includes character-actors Ed Lauter and Julius Harris, the same kind of old school adventure vibe, keeping the action at a neat, economical pace: something director John Guillermin can do nicely. ranging from SHAFT IN AFRICA back to THE DAY THEY ROBBED THE BANK OF ENGLAND...

In search of the initially lost-at-sea and now reluctant monkey's bride is a wannabe movie star with the strange name of Dwan, played by the extremely gorgeous Jessica Lange, an airhead character who probably wouldn't have made a good actress, so Jessica's own performance may seem stilted and campy, but like Bridges, her unique, vulnerable and sympathetic presence makes-up for any otherwise damaging flaws. "My horoscope said I was in crossover water," she says about the powerful man who can possibly change her life with a big role, and, obviously unaware of the underlined irony that waits ashore, continues with: "It said I would meet the biggest person in my life."

This Skull Island's more a tropical Hawaii than the original's African vibe
Meanwhile, Grodin, with his usual glib persona, is a snarky, funny and likeable villain (whose forced selfish capitalistic dialogue fleshes-out any and all villainy), and at one point says "Let's not get eaten alive on this island... Bring the mosquito spray!" And he's ultimately not as lucky as Robert Armstrong's original instigator, Carl Denham: after all, Hollywood prefers directors to oilmen...

But this entertainingly epic yet neatly contained popcorn flick hits a gigantic Kong Wall, ironically when the Ape arrives and the story centers on he and Lange's idyllic honeymoon that's not only corny, but makes this formidable creature lack the complete and edgy, monstrous quality needed for his (slightly overlong) Big Apple destruction later on (but at least he doesn't ice skate like in Peter Jackson's multi-million-dollar vanity project).

Jessica Lange held back by Jeff Bridges in KING KONG
Kong is also inevitably bogged down by dated special effects... despite beautiful matte painting backdrops and Rick Baker's costume, progressed from the Godzilla films that made that device famous (Bridges says at one point: "Who do you think went through there: some guy in an ape suit?"), looks genuine and palpable up-close as opposed to wider shots, the opposite of the 1933 classic — still the champ after all the sequels, remakes, expanded-tales and in this particular case, with the Working Title Extension of THE LEGEND REBORN, is one of the first reboots despite that term not being used (much) in 1976, one year before effects-driven pulpy adventure movies would be changed, forever. 
Jessica Lange, Jeff Bridges,Charles Grodin, Ed Lauter and René Auberjonois
Jessica Lange, Jeff Bridges,Charles Grodin, Ed Lauter and René Auberjonois King Kong
Jessica Lange, Jeff Bridges,Charles Grodin, Ed Lauter and René Auberjonois and Julius Harris
A Matte Painting of The Kong Wall: works to bridge the special effects to make them still work
An example of how the wonderful background evens-out the "dated" costumed Kong
A planned commercial for oil, and again, with steel that CANNOT be broken... Not!
John Agar as the city bigwig as a homage to his creature feature past ala Tarantula John Agar King Kong
Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange on a Skull Island honeymoon in KING KONG
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