Sunday, October 30, 2005

[DVD] King Kong Vs. Godzilla (1962)

One's an American monster created in the 1930s. The other, a Japanese counterpart created in the 1950s. One an oversized ape which scaled the Empire State Building in New York, the other an oversized lizard which trampled the streets of Tokyo. What do you get when you put the two together? An animal slugfest which forgets about human characterization. I mean, who would care?

This is the first movie which combined two well known monster icons, and unleashed them against each other in Japan. And the first time that both creatures appear in colour too. While the plot is secondary, it takes you almost an hour before the two finally meet, and treated to a short fight with Kong walking away scratching his head. Not a good start to a fight, but naturally, Godzilla would win given his fire-breath. Initially that is, until Kong gets upped in strength by electricity.

Fans of both Kong and Godzilla will naturally be pleased with director Ishiro Honda for keeping in some iconic moments which defined both characters. For Kong, a television crew sets out to Faroe Island (a departure for Skull Island) in search of a mysterious beast whom the local island inhabitants worship. They ship him to Japan, until they're ordered by the government to not bring Kong to their shores. At the same time, Godzilla gets thawed from some iceberg, and instinctively makes its way to Japan, first stop being Hokkaido, before journeying southwards to Tokyo.

Kong gets a nod with its short stint scaling a building, while kidnapping a Japanese lady along the way. However, he seemed short of ideas in tackling Godzilla, only be throwing huge boulders at the lizard. I'd give Godzilla one-up in its creativity in trying to take Kong down.

It's kinda tacky watching this film now, with both monsters given the CG treatment (Godzilla by Hollywood, and the upcoming King Kong by Peter Jackson). Men in rubber suits are obvious, and the closeups are kinda funny, especially Kong's rubber face. But like most Japanese monster movies, the miniatures are a sight to marvel at. Must have been a chore building them, and having them torn down with such ease by Kong and Godzilla must have been painful.

So who wins in the end? It depends on which version you're watching. The version I'd watched from a DVD from the library@esplanade, Kong defeats Godzilla offscreen, and swam for home. In my opinion, Godzilla should've roasted Kong, but that's another story for another day.

Code 1 DVD (English Version): No bells and whistles besides scene selection, text based production notes, and the usual subtitles support.

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