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Film Appreciation... Monster Movies
 

 

For an overview of the monster film genre click here.

"King Kong" (1933)
A beautiful girl. Exotic location. Adventurous filmmaker. And a REALLY big monkey. That's all. Okay, so there's a little more to it. Merian Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack saved RKO studio from bankruptcy with one of the earliest sci-fi blockbusters. (Without Kong, RKO never would have made "Citizen Kane".) Willis O'Brien's special effects set a new precedent for movie illusions, while Max Steiner's use of animated music and sound effects to enhance the action elevates the musical score to a new art form. Though primitive by today's Spielberg/Lucas standards, "King Kong" is still delightfully entertaining.

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"Jaws" (1975)
What's scarier than a rampaging giant monkey? A rampaging giant shark. Steven Spielberg's breakthrough is a triumph in cinematic story-telling. Peter Benchley's bubble gum novel is transformed into a mythic battle of man versus nature through Verna Fields's clever editing, stunning cinematography by Bill Butler, and one realistic monster. Top notch performances are turned in by Roy Scheider as the land loving police chief, Richard Dreyfuss as the puerile icthyologist, and Robert Shaw as the old salt with a bone to pick ... or cartilage, as the case may be. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.) Topping everything off is John Williams's haunting score. Watch Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw chew up the scenery! Watch Bruce chew up Robert Shaw! Watch attendance at the beach drop off dramatically! What more could you want?

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"Jurassic Park" (1993)
So the plot has holes big enough to run a T-Rex through -- aren't those dinos cool? "Jurassic Park" is another Spielberg f/x triumph. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the rest of the film. A bland script that only comes alive when someone is being chased by a prehistoric beastie and ho-hum performances from all the leads (save the ever-so-droll Jeff Goldblum, who has a remarkable knack for popping up in multi-million dollar blockbusters) run this film into the ground. It is a sci-fi breakthrough for computer animation, brought to life by Stan Winston and the Digital Domain team. Thrilling one moment, slow as mud the next, "Jurassic Park" is a spectacle -- and not much else.

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"Godzilla"
He is big, he is bad, and as the Japanese know all too well he is badder than ever! T-Rex never looked so good!

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Miscellaneous...
Click here for more information about other famous dinosaurs and their feature films.

1999 Debbie Twyman. All rights reserved. TERMS OF USE