• King Kong Vs. Godzilla

    Released by: Universal Studios
    Released on: April 1st, 2014.
    Director: Ishirô Honda
    Cast: Tadao Takashima, Kenji Sahara, Yû Fujiki
    Year: 1962
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    The Movie:

    King Kong Vs. Godzilla begins when an exploration team travels by submarine to the arctic where they find a glacier containing Godzilla. Of course, the glacier opens up and the ol’ brute heads back to Japan to wreak havoc. Meanwhile, Mr. Tako (Ichirô Arishima), the eccentric owner of a pharmaceutical corporation, learns about the existence of some berries that contain narcotic properties. Figuring this could be a boon for his business, he and a team of explorers head to Farou Island, the only place in the world that these berries grow.

    Tako and his two right hand men, Kinsaburo Furue (Yû Fujiki) and Osamu Sakurai (Tadao Takashima), arrive and after offering cigarettes to the native children and chief alike, they find that the massive ape known as King Kong is their god! Kong also enjoys those berries that Tako is after and after feasting on some of them, he passes out on the beach. Tako sees the commercial opportunities capturing a beast like Kong could offer and so he and his team fasten the doped up monkey to a raft and decide to tow him back to Japan. Of course, Kong, who for reason unable to be explained by science gains power from electricity, gets loose at the same time Godzilla begins rampaging across the countryside. Before you know it all of Japan trembles under the feet of these mighty titans - and then when they inevitably clash, the fate of the nation will surely hang in the balance while the world can only watch…

    Some Godzilla films work better as serious stories than others, and this is definitely one of the others. It’s about as goofy a monster movie as you’re likely to see but when you’re in the right frame of mind for it, the picture is deliriously entertaining. Is it flawed? Oh yeah, it’s very flawed – they never bother explaining why King Kong gets all powered by electricity instead of, you know, electrocuted by it and the scene where our Japanese adventurers deal with the natives? Let’s just say that political correctness and racial sensitivity aren’t really highpoints here, unless you consider Japanese people running around in tribal outfits all painted up in blackface racially sensitive.

    Yet despite all of this, or maybe because of all of this, the movie is a blast. Why? Well mostly it all comes down to the last half hour, of course, and while that’s true of a lot of giant monster movies, with King Kong Vs. Godzilla it’s particularly impressive since that’s when King Kong fights Godzilla. We actually get two rounds, though it’s the second, when both beasts are all raging and ready to go, that the movie becomes less about narrative and more about striving to be the best and biggest wrestling match ever! Our combatants throw rocks at one another. King Kong tries to cram a tree down Godzilla’s throat. Godzilla puzzlingly decides to dropkick King Kong and plenty of miniature buildings and tiny Hot Wheels vehicles get demolished in the process. Sure, King Kong may look like he’s been pieced together out of carpet remnants and there are moments where G’s suit looks like it might fall of. And okay, the matte work is obviously matte work and when that giant squid shows up early in the movie and people are running around in front of it, it’s obvious that they’re not really running around in front of it. But if you use your imagination a little bit and embrace your inner goofball, this movie is a blast.

    Purists will no doubt take issue with the fact that this disc includes only the American version of the movie, so that means it’s all dubbed in English and the changes detailed here are in effect. The score is different, the dubbing is atrocious and the movie does play better in Japanese, but the nostalgia factor afforded by this version is considerable, at least for some of us.


    King Kong Vs. Godzilla arrives on Blu-ray framed at 2.35.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and while the transfer won’t blow you away it looks pretty decent. Colors look like they’re maybe a tad on the drab side but detail is considerably improved over DVD releases and the obvious grain in the image has thankfully been left intact rather than turned into a smeary noise reduction nightmare. Black levels look pretty good and texture is decent. There isn’t any obvious edge enhancement to complain about nor are there any evident compression artifacts of note. The matte work used throughout the film looks more obvious than ever but you can’t really fault the disc for that. Some more cleanup work would have been nice, there’s more print damage here than some will have probably wanted to see but this is a definite upgrade in terms of sharpness, detail, texture and overall clarity.

    Audio chores are handled by an English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track with optional subtitles provided in English SDH and French. The audio here is alright. The dialogue is clear enough and the levels are properly balanced. The grunts and shrieks from the monsters sound pretty strong and there aren’t any issues with hiss or distortion. This isn’t a fancy mix by any stretch but it works.

    Extras? Not a single one outside of a pop-up menu. Universal didn’t even include the trailer, but hey, it’s on youtube…

    The Final Word:

    The film fanatic in me is irritated that we didn’t get any extras or even the original Japanese cut of the movie, but the twelve year old kid in me couldn’t care less and completely geeked out about seeing the US version, horrible dubbing and all, in a decent widescreen high definition presentation. The movie itself remains a whole lot of ridiculous fun and that final battle is the stuff that monster kids’ dreams are made of.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Todd Jordan's Avatar
      Todd Jordan -
      I love King Kong in his. So shitty looking, but what a kick when he eats the power wires to get stronger. Huh? But who cares. I got to see this in a double feature matinee as a kid with another Godzilla one. Its a fond memory.
    1. paul h.'s Avatar
      paul h. -
      King Kong kind of looks like Burt Young in the frame that you grabbed. Ridiculous fun!