|A legendary fight falls flat.||1 out of 2 users found this review helpful.|
King Kong vs. Godzilla. It sounds like a match made in heaven for fans of old monster movies. It's predecessors, King Kong and Godzilla, were both legendary films in their own rights. Put both in the same film should have been an easy home run.
As it is, it's barely a single.
King Kong vs. Godzilla is the end of a strange journey that started with a concept called "King Kong vs. Frankenstein". I bring this up because it is very obvious that Toho, the Japanese company that made the movie, borrowed liberally from the original script, seemingly to the point of cutting out the giant version of the Frankenstein monster, jamming King Kong into that hole. This leads to strange, unexplained plot points in the film, such as electricity making King Kong stronger. Of course, when the co-star is a giant radioactive dinosaur brought to life by an atomic bomb, maybe I'm just looking to deep into it.
The Godzilla portions of the film are the stronger parts of the movie. The Godzilla design is about midway through it's transformation from the terrifying monster of the original Godzilla and Godzilla Raids Again, but is still too menacing to be the "hero" character he would later become in the later films. The said, the big lizard looks pretty good in this film, and outside of the climatic fight, the scenes of him rampaging through the Japanese countryside are some of the most entertaining parts of the film.
As far as King Kong himself goes, he looks absolutely terrible. I did a bit of research, and from what I read, the makers of the movie were never happy with the design of Kong, and I can't say I blame them. Usually the best part of the Toho movies are the creative monster designs and the suits, but the Kong looks like poorly made, bought off the shelf gorilla costume, and the puppet used for close in shots of King Kong's face looks even worst. It is sad, considering that Kong was supposed was the more popular character at the time, and as such, the headliner.
The King Kong parts of the film are generally dull, as well. The lackluster plot is generally centered around King Kong, the attempts to find him and bring him to civilization as a ploy to bring publicity and fortune to a large company. Where have I heard that before? The human characters are all around forgettable, to the point that I would regularly forget which character was which. This is also the first attempt to make a more lighthearted Godzilla film, as the first two were much more gloomy affairs. Unfortunately, the silly, comedy relief characters are more annoying than funny, and the King Kong part of the story suffers for it. Along with this, some of the crowd scenes, such as when the natives try to sooth the giant ape to sleep, just go on forever, and the extras and performers just could not look any less interested in what they are doing. The scenes where humans and monsters are on screen at the same time look pretty bad as well. This is the first color film for both Kong and Godzilla, and it is that Toho is relatively new to it, as well. Whatever is in the foreground of such screens takes on a noticeable blue tinge, noticeable to the point of distraction is some cases.
More or less, the first 70 minutes or so are just lead up to the final battle between the two monster, and for what it is worth, it's a pretty fun fight to watch. Both monsters throw each other down the slope of mount Fuji, rocks are thrown, bursts of atomic breath are...uh...breathed, and guys in suits grapple with each other pretty convincingly. You've probably seen the iconic scene of a castle between destroyed by the two monsters that occurs towards the end. This is easily the best part of the movie, but it's a shame the lead up to it is pretty dull.
All told, plagued by poor costumes and effects, extras that seem generally disinterested, and the changing tone from serious to silly in Godzilla films, King Kong vs Godzilla maybe one of the most well known and most financially successful, it certainly isn't one of the best.
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