King Kong Vs. Godzilla (1962) Review

RATING: 4/5

Kong is transported to Japan to be a mascot for a pharmaceutical company; though things take a turn when Kong frees himself and does battle with the King of the Monsters himself, Godzilla.

A classic and epic kaiju movie back then. A classic and epic kaiju movie now.

The film started off well as one was introduced to the characters and the main drive that put the plot forward in motion. Firstly, the human character that stole the show was the company leader himself, Mr. Tako. In the many scenes he was present in, he was so eccentric in his plan of wanting Kong so badly that it was hilarious at times. It was funny seeing him fuming over Godzilla getting all the attention as opposed to Kong. As well as the bit of him screaming for Kong to win when he and Godzilla first meet. The rest of the human characters were fine. Comparing the Japanese actors and American actors, was like day and night. The latter felt like they weren’t even trying to put the effort. Not the worst, but very bland.

Revisiting the movie made me realize that there was pretty comedic bits here and there. As I said, Mr. Tako stole the show. But there were other moments that made me laugh quite a bit. There was the scene where the characters of Osamu and Kinsaboro were impressing the Faroe Island Natives with a radio and handing them all cigarettes. The two give an eager native child one until his mother from behind grabbed it out of his hand. There was Kinsaboro being paranoid while walking through the island jungle. It reached a peak when he was swinging around a giant lizard. After the first encounter, Kong scratched his head and walked away upon realizing Godzilla breathed atomic breath. It goes to show that the entertainment factor wasn’t just in the action.

As far as the monsters go, they were really good. Godzilla did appear derpy and this iteration did the famous hand-clapping moments, but the design overall I dug, one of the favorites. Kong was similar with his derpiness, but I liked it as well. Definitely better than the design used in “King Kong Escapes.”

On their own, the two had some nice action and destruction scenes. Though I think Kong outdid Godzilla with the 1933 homages being executed on-screen. Kong grabbing the train from the tracks, picking up Fumiko, and climbing the tallest building. One must keep in mind that Kong hadn’t been a movie since 1933, so it was rightly appropriate for Toho to familiarize audiences with the 8th Wonder. The shot of him standing on top of the capitol building was a cool one. As well as some good perspective shots whenever he and Godzilla were in the countryside wreaking everything in their path.

Now, the fights. The first encounter hadn’t nothing much to it. Though as I mentioned, Kong had a funny moment of him walking away. He thought he was going to be battling a regular dinosaur until Godzilla pulled out his signature weapon. The second encounter and final battle, was legendary. It’s one of the best and most memorable. So many classic moments from the fight to choose from. Kong shoving a tree down Godzilla’s throat, Godzilla battering a down Kong, Kong receiving an energy boost from lightning, Godzilla/Kong jumping off the cliff and into the ocean, etc. An excellent fight that wasn’t too short or too long. It gave one just what they want to be rightfully satisfied. Even if the outcome is sorely debated to this day, the fight itself can surely leave a massive impression.

Composer Akira Ifukube did great with one of the best themes in the Godzilla franchise. Though I wished he would composed the soundtrack with more originality. As the main theme was eerily similar to the theme that played while Kong was falling asleep.

While Faroe Island had some decent sets and practical effects, I wished the island itself was explored more. Especially when it came to the fauna. It felt lifeless and it evoked similar vibes to the 1976 remake of “King Kong.” I feel as though Kong should have had a grander entrance. I mean fighting an octopus I feel is not a good intro, the fight itself was one would expect, lackluster. However I do feel bad for the animal being eaten by the filmmakers behind the scenes. Godzilla’s entrance of him coming out of the ice in the beginning was cool, no pun intended. But similarly to Kong, I feel like his solo scenes needed to be better worked on. It had been 7 years since “Godzilla Raids Again” and I think Toho gave him the short end of the stick.

Some of the dialogue can be a little clunky. Kong getting electrical powers was hokey. It be fitting for the “Frankenstein Monster,” who was originally supposed to take Kong’s role. But hey, Kong went full beast mode when he received the power of Zeus. So I’m not complaining too much. There were moments of poor editing where the film would either cut or transition within the same scene. The plot itself was ridiculous and outlandish. But upon reading director Honda’s motives on the themes of television adverts, I can understand where he was coming from. As there is truth to this. Companies will sometimes go far and beyond to get as many viewers and good press as possible to keep their business afloat.

If you’re a kaiju/giant monster fan who hasn’t seen this movie, where have you been? It is a great movie with nice humor, really good music, and memorable monster action that defies the word, classic. Highly recommend it.

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