Tuesday, 14 March 2017

King Kong Vs. Godzilla (1962)


Kong and Godzilla are once again scheduled to fight in 2020, but if you can’t wait until then you’re in luck. King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) has received a Blu-ray release.

Full disclosure, I’m a Godzilla fan. By which I don’t just mean that I merely enjoy the forty-two year long franchise. No, I grew up with it, seeking out any feasible means to import as many of the films as possible. I adored it, and still do. If this franchise were a human being, I’d be trialled for kidnapping following several cases of harassment.
 My point is that my enjoyment of King Kong vs. Godzilla will almost certainly not be same as most. That being said, I wouldn’t be doing my job correctly if I couldn’t maintain some level of objectivity.


King Kong vs. Godzilla is absurd. This film came from a production studio which specialised in an all but dead method of creating monsters; suitmation. The effects for Kong and Godzilla are achieved with neither stop-motion nor animatronics. Instead, an actor is placed inside a rubber suit and made to stomp around a miniature city. This is where the charm, and thusly your enjoyment, of King Kong vs. Godzilla will come from.

The nature of having a person inside these monsters means they feel strangely alive despite looking so phoney. Kong especially. To this day I struggle to comprehend how special effects artist Eiji Tsuburaya looked at the final design for Kong’s face and decided that that is how it should look.
To go back to my previous point, though, in spite of the dated effects, Kong and Godzilla both have a strange, living quality to them. This is one of the major aspects which makes their confrontation so enjoyable, the strange spectacle that it is.

As I previously said, King Kong vs. Godzilla is absurd. It’s strange to revisit this film now after the release Godzilla (2014) and now Kong: Skull Island. Recent monster movies – though certainly not ‘realistic’ – have a certain grounded quality to them. Whereas King Kong vs. Godzilla features scenes in which Kong passes out drunk, and is transported to Godzilla via giant yellow balloons. No really!


This is as funny as it sounds, which is why I would recommend King Kong vs. Godzilla, even to those who have no interest in this genre or franchise. Even if you have no investment in the craft, or the film’s pop cultural significance, it will certainly elicit several laughs – intended or otherwise.
King Kong vs. Godzilla is not the grandiose confrontation you may hope for or expect it to be. In truth, it’s two men in misshapen rubber costumes flailing their arms at one another.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

★★★★☆

Lewis Hill


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