There has never been anything like King Kong. Not the remakes, not the cartoons, and certainly not any book. It's a visual treat, even now over 70 years later, and a testament to what can be achieved on film.
While there are certainly those moments in Kong that can be seen as comedy (the giant ape's emotion creates a character capable of more expression than most of the human cast), it also achieves incredible horror. Censored for many years, sequences of the creature rampaging through a native village are spectacular; there's nothing like Kong munching and stomping on people in a furious rage.
Oddly, what's most spectacular about Kong is the pacing. It can be argued there isn't any, but the entire second half of the movie is nothing but one long, never boring special effects sequence. It takes 45-minutes for the title character to make an appearance, and build up is one of intrigue and mystery. Even with the acting style of the 1930s, it's easy to buy into the characters, especially Carl Denham, filling in for the real life Merian C. Cooper. Much has been written on how the director inserted himself into his own film, and it's a perfect role for the movie.
There's also credit for Max Steiner and his brilliant, groundbreaking soundtrack. It's one of the first to ever use music for an extra emotional pull, in sync with each frame of film. The themes fit with anything happening on screen, and Kong's unforgettable three-note piece is raised or lowered depending on his actions.
King Kong is such a classic, it's one of those movies that has been annoyingly over analyzed. Some people won't accept that it's a "giant ape that eats people movie" and try to find other reasons for their enjoyment. There's no need for it, as Kong on its surface level is enough to provide movie fans with 70 years of entertainment. (***** out of *****)
It's always been difficult to analyze Kong from a special effects standpoint. Time was not kind to the film, but on DVD for the first time, it's stunning. The detail, down to each piece of Kong's fur, is now digitally preserved with few issues. Obviously with the age, there is expected grain and scratches. Most of these are minor. The clarity is what makes this a treat.