Over the course of his venerable career King Kong has battled mythological creatures, scaled skyscrapers and once had a soft spot for a blond. Now his outsized contribution to cinema is assessed in “Long Live the King.”
Focusing extensively on the 1933 original, which was discovered by subsequent generations via many a small-screen movie marathon, the documentary by Frank Dietz and Trish Geiger is big on enthusiasm though it ultimately lacks depth.
While the original film has influenced the assembled aging film and TV industry fanboys, “Gremlins” director Joe Dante, “The Walking Dead” makeup whiz Greg Nicotero and “Simpsons” writer Dana Gould among them, subsequent spawn of Kong have been less than mighty, save for 1949’s “Mighty Joe Young” and Peter Jackson’s accomplished if overstuffed 2005 offering.
As evidence, Dietz and Geiger obligingly furnish brief clips from the likes of “Son of Kong” (1933), “Konga” (1961) and “King Kong vs. Godzilla” (1961), but like everything else here, the primer has all the substance of a DVD bonus featurette.
Those in the market for real analysis of Kong’s enduring place in the pop-culture spotlight or some juicy, behind-the-scenes tidbits will have to look elsewhere, like Ray Morton’s 2005 book, “King Kong: The History of a Movie Icon From Fay Wray to Peter Jackson.”
The big guy deserves a larger canvas.
‘Long Live the King’
Running time: 1 hour, 7 minutes
Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood