Monday, February 20, 2017

THROWBACK REVIEW: The Mighty Kong (1998)

What on earth did I just watch? I'm not sure it was real, because prior to watching this, I made myself quite the cocktail, and I found myself laughing at this film more than I likely should have. Just listen to this concept and just see if it interests you in the slightest. King Kong, released as an animated musical, starring Jodi Benson, more commonly known as the voice of Ariel in Disney's "The Little Mermaid". I'll be completely honest, I once saw this as a kid, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I don't remember when that was, maybe it was 1998. I really don't know. All that you need to know, is that watching it roughly two decades later? How I ever found it entertaining, I'll never know. I think a lot of us think that at some point in our lives.

That's not to say Mighty Kong is terrible, but it's certainly not good. There are a few things I actually found I kinda liked, but yeah, on a whole, this one really isn't that great. At only 72 minutes in length, it compresses the story of Kong, and a lot of the exciting parts of that story are merely glanced over, while a bunch of pointless stuff is included. One thing that immediately comes to mind is the dinosaurs. They're barely shown in this. And the fights are not that impressive. I mean...that's practically a Kong staple for me. But on the note of Kong, I ironically found him to be surprisingly absent in this film. Even when he's on screen, he's just not that impressive. This could be the fact that by the time we see him, likely half of the movie is done, and whatnot, but when he's tromping around New York City, there's just not a lot of fun in it. He just kinda looks blank in the face. It sucks the energy right out of the story.

The characters don't exactly help out here. They're pretty terrible. The only two even memorable are Denham and Darrow, voiced by Dudley Moore and of course, Jodi Benson. Jack Driscoll is in the film, but he's not. If you thought there was no way the wooden acting and surprisingly sudden romance between him and Darrow couldn't be anymore wooden and sudden than the original, just wait until you see this. At least in the original, the two spent some time talking and bantering back and forth before they found out they loved each other. Here, Driscoll just kinda constantly insults her, to the point of her becoming infuriated with him, but one song later, they're in love. But they don't even really explore that too much. And honestly, the only reason I remember Denham in this movie is because of his strange accent. He almost talks straight up like William Shatner at times. That and he's almost always smiling in this movie. Oh and there's these two completely pointless characters in the movie in this cabin boy and his pet monkey who contribute nothing in this film at all. They're there to be a supposed comedy relief, but they're not funny, and they're not charming. They're entirely pointless.

I guess I can't talk about a musical without addressing the music, so how is it? Well like the movie, it's not terrible, but it's certainly not good. It's listenable. That's about it. Some of it really doesn't need to be there. Some of it is just forced. One song that I actually kinda dug was a song that didn't need to be there, but was kinda fun just for the sake of being fun. Denham is doing his test camera shots of Darrow, and he's explaining a scene in which she's this island princess. The song has nothing to do with the story, it's just a fun detour from the story. But one thing that caught my eye was the fact that during this little sequence, they show Darrow jumping from a cliff into the sea, and the animation becomes incredibly similar to that of Ariel from Little Mermaid. The way the hair forays in the water, the way she keeps singing in the water, even the facial expressions... all this for a character Jodi Benson voices. There's no way that can be a coincidence. Maybe it's the movies strange way of saying I could be watching Little Mermaid right now. Something I actually really like.

Honestly, again I know I'm being a bit critical here, especially of a kids movie only 72 minutes long, but the movie does have a few strengths. One of them being that it kinda takes notes from both the original, and the 1976 remake. It mainly bases its film off 1933, but it actually directly mirrors a scene from 1976 when Kong takes Darrow to a waterfall to wash her. Unfortunately, the bond between Darrow and Kong isn't really developed, and Darrow is paved more into the frightened damsel category, rather than the tamer of the beast. They also have some fun with the iconic climax, even if it's rather silly at times. Like they have some silly clich├ęs involving Darrow hanging onto the Empire State Building for dear life before she's caught by Driscoll. Another thing I kinda like is that they play with the net idea from 1976 with these huge zeppelins, which make Kong lose balance and fall off the building...and true to the kid friendly status of the film, they have Kong survive his fall. And strangely enough...everyone is kinda cheering when they see he survives. It's very weird.

You know, I know this movie is really dumb and stupid. At times, pretty bad. The animation isn't spectacular, the characters are pretty bland, as is the music and action of the film, it falls in that forgettable territory alongside Son of Kong and King Kong Escapes for me. But at the same time, I can't help but laugh at some of the things they did with this film with how stupid it got. It's balancing perfectly on that so bad that it's good line. Such is something I found completely absent in say...King Kong Lives. So you know what? You're gonna get by a bit easy today movie. I'm feeling generous.

The Mighty Kong gets a one and a half star rating from me. Again, this is by no means good. But there are a lot of fun things about this little direct-to-video release that made me watching this all these years later kinda...relaxed towards I guess. I wasn't joking when I aid it couldn't get worse than King Kong Lives, which I still haven't really forgiven. The limited defense I've heard towards it isn't exactly something I'll debate too much. This film...which was shorter and on a limited budget, much lower than the $10 million budget King Kong Lives had gave me more to enjoy. So if you were morbidly curious, found this at your local goodwill or whatnot? Hey...you might enjoy a single viewing. Make yourself a drink, and just sit back and enjoy how silly stupid this is. Because ironically enough...this may be the best animated portrayal of Kong you'll ever see.

Please feel free to request any film you'd like me to take a look at. Leave a comment down below expressing your own thoughts and feelings about the film, and as always, thanks for reading.

Join me next week when I tackle the first thirteen episodes of....Kong: The Animated Series.  The things I do...

Final Verdict: 1.5/4

Thursday, February 16, 2017

REVIEW: The Great Wall

The Great Wall is...silly dumb fun just as I predicted it would be, but I will say that it thankfully has a somewhat competent story, which is honestly more credit than I originally gave it credit for. Watching trailers for this, it really didn't do much to impress me. But hey, I enjoy being proven wrong sometimes. Don't get me wrong, the movie is still very dumb, but damn it if it's not a little fun in all its dumbness if that makes a hint of sense. 

The story is based on a couple mercenaries on search of legendary "black powder" which is said to be one of the most deadliest of weapons. A simple concept, but one I can get behind. The movie begins with these mercenaries being chased by...bandits I guess. We never really get an idea who was after them, but they literally get chased into the legendary Great Wall of China, in all its CGI and colorful army glory. And they find themselves in the middle of this conflict against this large reptilian army from...Heaven apparently? Honestly the reason behind this reptile army (that most definitely are NOT dragons) being in this movie and fighting the Chinese armies is rather shoe-horned in, and kinda gives off this lazy "greed is bad" message. Taken prisoners, they impress the Chinese with their fighting skills...their stupid dumb flawless fighting skills and Matt Damon decides to help fight against this large army, because apparently there's something worth fighting for here. 

I might as well come forward and say it, the movie's driving force is the action. And the action isn't even really all that good at times, more than it is just flashy, and over-the-top in laughable ways. The very first major battle we see on screen shows us how the army functions. By color code! If you're in black armor, you're a footsoldier, if you're in red, you're an archer, if you're in blue, you're this acrobatic female that literally bungee jumps from the wall with spears in your hand down toward the army below (that's not a joke either), and if you're in purple armor....the movie forgets all about you. The CGI is very much present here in this film. The effects are very flashy, and at times, they're likely just meant to make the 3D more impressive. But honestly, having just watched it in Imax, I'm not even sure if the 3D is that impressive. The effects zoom in on arrows shot from bows, acrobat females leaping from the wall, and Matt Damon throwing a shield around like he's Captain America. The movie isn't afraid to go all out in its action to the point where it would make the elves of the Lord of the Rings blush. 

The characters aren't terrible in this film, though they can be kinda cutouts. Matt Damon, who doesn't play a Chinese soldier, so there's no need for whitewashing criticism here, does a fine job portraying his character William, even if at times, his accent seems to disappear, and I will say that many of these Chinese actors, making their debut appearance in American theaters are actually a lot of fun to follow. The commander, Lin can be a lot of fun, but they're pretty much the only characters I cared about. They tried to get me to sympathize with this younger soldier boy who's often harassed by his superiors and whatnot, and looks up to Damon, but the two don't really bond in any way, shape, or form, and I don't think I'm spoiling anything here, but by the time he dies, I just kinda chuckled. Damon's friends in Ballard and Pero really also contribute very little to the story, which baffles me because at times, the movie focuses on them a lot. They have this generic escape plot that really goes nowhere. It contributes next to nothing in this film. 

However none of this explains why I went to see it in the first place. The creatures. I was eager to see the monsters portrayed in this film that the Great Wall was apparently trying to keep out...and they're honestly kinda disappointing. We're not given a lot of explanation into where they came from other than the gods sending them because of the greed of an emperor or something, and the behavior of the creatures just isn't really explained to the fullest detail. That and the designs themselves aren't that intimidating at times. They actually kinda remind me of D-War, and I'm sure some of you know how I feel about that movie... It's just your generic Zerg rush army, lead by a queen that's really nothing different from them, and that's it. There's no diversity so much, there's no flying creatures, no really large creatures, they don't have any fun with these creatures, which leaves me, a diehard creature feature lover, wanting a LOT more. Hell, these things don't even breathe fire. C'mooon...

Honestly, I know I'm being overly critical here, but I don't dislike the movie. I'm kinda "eh" towards it. It's got a lot of really fun stuff. I enjoyed the musical score, and despite it being dumb, I enjoyed the over-the-top no strings attached action, and like I said, the cast is very likable. But the overall story just isn't fleshed out enough, and there's just not enough meat on the bones of this movie to really say, yeah I'd watch it again. I had fun, but it didn't really leave me on a high, and once I was in my car, I has practically forgotten about it. 

The Great Wall is a two and a half star rating out of four for me. And that might even be a little generous. But I will say that if you're like me, a lover of creature features, you'll likely get a kick out of one viewing. The film has its saving graces. Maybe they're just more apparent to me after having recently sat through that King Kong Lives movie, but for what this dumb silly movie was, I enjoyed it. I doubt I'll watch it again, but I enjoyed it. 

Please feel free to request any film you'd like me to have a look at. Leave a comment down below expressing your own thoughts on the film, and as always, thanks for reading. 

Final Verdict: 2.5/4

Saturday, February 11, 2017

THROWBACK REVIEW: King Kong Lives (1986)

Prior to watching this, I was told the three following things. "King Kong Lives is a popcorn movie." "King Kong Lives is good cheesy fun." "King Kong Lives is amazing." Are any of these statements true?

....no. No they're not.

Dino De Laurentiis' sequel to his 1976 King Kong remake, King Kong Lives is absolute garbage. Easily earning its reputation as one of the worst Kong movies out there. Easily earning the terrible reputation it has amongst the Kong fanbase. And despite me not exactly liking Rotten Tomatoes as a source, it easily earns that 0% approval rating. Because the movie fucking sucks. And before anyone asks, yes. It is worse than Queen Kong. I don't think the question needs to be asked. That question being, "what's wrong with the movie?". The question should really be...what's NOT wrong with it? And I don't know the answer to that question.

Right off the bat this film does nothing but present questions that are never answered. The film takes place ten years after the events of the previous movie. Kong apparently has survived his fall from the World Trade Center, and has been kept alive in a coma by this...Institute in Atlanta. Because...that's a thing now. First thing in the movie. Makes. NO. Sense. Why would a school keep Kong alive? Especially if it's running them seven million dollars? Especially after Kong has proven to to be a dangerous animal? Did the government approve of this? Guess what. None of these questions are answered. We just gotta roll with it. We see Linda Hamilton, not playing Sarah Connor, as this doctor in charge of replacing Kong's heart I guess because it's failing, but because he's been in a coma for so long, not even a transplant will save Kong. Not without a blood transfusion of a similar species. What a coincidence, another giant ape is found immediately afterwards, and is a female. And it's all history from here folks. They capture the female, proceed with the transplant and transfusion, Kong wakes up, senses the female, and the two develop a bond, while being pursued by the military, and while Sarah Connor and discount Indiana Jones form a pointless bond of their own, and try to preserve both specimens. And Lady Kong gets pregnant, and has a mini-kong. This movie sucks.

The list of problems I have with this movie is endless. Like the surgery for Kong in the beginning of the movie. So they need to take his heart out. Does...no one here know just how much work would go into replacing the heart of a 50 foot ape? The bigger question is does Kong even have a sternum? Because if he does, it's about as thick as my dinner table at home. But then again, a simple bump on the head in a river knocks Kong out, and bloodies up the water in a few short seconds later in the movie. Might also explain how a tribe managed to tranquilize lady Kong with blow guns, or how Kong was in any way hurt by tiny little bullets of a handgun during the climax. Seriously with all this in perspective, it's a wonder Kong survived falling off the Twin Towers at all. Wait a moment...it just came to me. HOW did Kong not suffer much more damage falling from the top of the Trade Center? With as quick a recovery he has in this movie after being in a coma for ten years, I'm having a hard time buying the entire scenario of this movie! I've only been watching a few minutes and this movie is already trying my patience! Back on track, I cannot buy the surgery scene at all. They make it look way too simple. They literally just kinda set the heart in...no one making detailed checks to make sure it's in the exact place it needs to be. Again, this is a fifty foot ape. I think this job would have been a LOT dirtier, and bloody. They just seem to use giant cotton swabs and other oversized tools and make this job look so easy, when it would likely straight up fail. Instead, Kong just suffers a few minor setbacks during his very brief recovery (and I do mean very brief), before he senses the female and takes her away, quite literally in his arms. As strong as before. Who needs rest? Oh and they have this remote control that apparently can fix any complication of Kong's new heart...what is this? Really what is this? That's just....really stupid.

While I'm on the subject of the Kongs, how are they portrayed? No better. The costumes can stick out like a sore thumb. While not as bad as say Queen Kong, the suits aren't that convincing. Kong was better portrayed last movie, and granted the suit wasn't perfect, but the little things are portrayed better. Like his posture. In the previous movie, Kong is a bipedal, walking on two legs, much like the original. Here, they both walk on all four legs, though there are times they constantly switch back and forth. I don't really care if your Kong walks on two legs or four. I love the original in which he walks on two, and I love another movie in which he walks on four. The only problem here is that it creates a continuity clash. Did you not watch your own movie, Dino? They also have arm extenders which while they aren't as noticeable as they are in the Toho movies, do still stick out. Especially when combined with some of these fake-looking sets they use. Also apparently Kong is a meat eater now, despite the movie clearly showing him as a plant eater first. I mean...apes are herbivores. That makes sense. Then the movie says he can't live without eating about 1000 pounds of protein a day, before we see him munching on bunch of alligators (that's not an exaggeration either, we see them just dangling from his mouth). Even a person later on. In a really dumb...dumb scene. The roars...oh my God. I wanna take back all the bad things I said about the last film as far as it being occasionally annoying. The roars here are INCREDIBLY annoying. And what adds to this is thar the trailer advertised Kong with his previous roar. Here, it sounds nothing alike, and was likely produced by modulating human vocals. Every roar makes me wanna turn the volume off. They sound like shit. And it doesn't help that there are scenes with just constant roaring. I also really don't care how these two apes act. They behave a little too much like humans than they do apes. Kong carries her out like a newlywed husband, there are scenes in which they bond in which they part with each other and fake each other out, it just doesn't feel right. Times they look at each other, and I just wait for the romantic music cue. Hell, they even seem to understand the humans right down to their language. It's just not believable. I can't think of one thing I liked about how they portrayed them. Even the pregnancy of lady Kong is botched up. I mean she gives birth to an ape...the size of a man. Despite her abdomen being much bigger than that. I mean, what the hell else was in her belly, air?

But if the monsters weren't any good, the human characters of this movie are no better. And that's because practically everyone in this movie is just a one-dimensional asshole in this movie. Like the military Colonel. Who wants to kill Kong, because he's nothing more than a jarhead killing machine...because movie. Literally, the first line the movie uses to describe him, is that he'll shoot any civilian on sight that attempts to break through his perimeter....WHAT? How did this asshole become a Colonel? This guy should be in prison with behavior like that! Yeah, if there's any stragglers you find in the red zone, KILL 'EM ALL! Not like they're citizens or anything. No arrest, just good old fashioned cold blooded murderrr... Literally, the guy's first response to anything going on is to shoot the big monkey. And his jarhead soldiers are no better, I wanted to slap half of them. Like holy cow, stop being so stupid. Why are all of you being so stupid? And it goes beyond the soldiers. There's hunters who manage to briefly capture Kong, who torture him, and treat him like dirt and whatnot just for the sake of being evil, because movie (really it's just a stupid scene), there's the institute heads who have no idea what the hell they seem to be doing, the only two characters in this movie who aren't complete dicks are Sarah Connor and discount Indiana Jones, but their characters are so bland that I don't care about their characters at all. Their relationship literally comes out of nowhere. It sparks from a horrible one-liner from Sarah Connor. "We're primates too." What the hell, movie? What the hell? Sure we have zero development between our characters, but I conveniently have this sleeping bag for two people, despite being single, and you're the only other character who isn't a 100% asshole in this movie. You must be the one. I also found a lot more of the dialogue rather annoying. Like how Sarah Connor can apparently "feel" that Kong is alive, and how she argues that with the Colonel. This is one of those movies, people.

I can't even get a kick out of the action of this movie, because it only happens because the Colonel decides to just be a jarhead. Literally whenever any reason to stop shooting is brought to him, he usually replies with an answer along the lines of, "well I don't care, we're gonna shoot anyway". The climactic fight of this movie is so forced, that it stands out in all the wrong ways. It looks incredibly fake, I'm given literally no other reason to believe that this was supposed to be in this movie, other than to make Kong go out like a hero while his lover goes into labor. Well Kong is gonna die anyway, we might as well just have the movie show him going out in a blaze of glory. If you want Kong to go out in a blaze of glory, is it so much to ask that you not painfully force it? Why should I, the viewer, care about Kong's death, when he himself guaranteed it when he destroyed the one device that could have saved him in the first place? I didn't bat an eye when the military was shooting him up. Why? Because I already knew he was going to die. The jarhead military just made it more annoying. I couldn't have any fun watching Kong tear the jarhead military a new one.

Watching this movie, I cannot tell you how many times I rubbed my face in frustration. The fact that it dumbfounded me so much, to the fact that I actually went out of my way to find people defending this movie, is just mind-numbing. It's like me, finding someone from the Avatar: The Last Airbender fanbase, defending that atrocious live-action movie made back in the day. I understand that we have guilty pleasures. I myself have them. I get a bit of a laugh watching John Travolra's performance in Battlefield Earth, but I'm not going to defend it because even I know that movie is a bad movie. I enjoy a good amount of films by Roland Emmerich, but they're heavily flawed, and that needs to be pointed out. One particular review I saw for this film, pointed out the flaws of this film, which heavily outweigh anything good...if there is anything good, and defended the movie, giving it a six out of ten. Really?

They went on to say that they did their best with their limited budget to make the best movie they possibly could to rival their 1976 remake. An attempt to up the ante. Well even that remake was flawed. It can be a fun watch, but it's not as good as some make it out to be. I'm going to compare this sequel to another Kong sequel, Son of Kong. Son of Kong was bland and forgettable, but it did its best to give us a fun adventure for what it was. One of the primary reasons it suffered was that it was rushed into production and rushed into theaters, getting released the same year as its predecessor. This 1976 remake had ten years to come up with a quality sequel. Something to give us. And it fucked up at almost every turn. Not even the film's trailer makes it look any good. That blasted tagline "America's biggest hero is back" shown a total of four times, before being spoken a fifth time, to uninteresting scenes and atrocious music, it's a trailer that practically says, "Hey, you wanna see an awful movie? Here's one!" I cannot properly describe every problem I have with this movie, like how none of the original cast members return, nor do we know what became of them. Or how almost any question I had regarding story was never answered. Or how the government had practically zero involvement with the story at all. The most I saw was this signed document by the Secretary of Defense, allowing them to visit the female ape in captivity, before the jarhead military gives the finger to everyone and locks the place down. With so many faults, so many really fixable problems, I cannot defend a score of six out of ten. Not by a long shot. My rating will be much worse.

This movie had zero entertainment for me. It gave me zero reasons to be interested. It gave me zero laughs, even in an unintentional fashion. It gave me zero reasons to want to go back and watch it. And it is for this reason and more, that King Kong Lives will be the first movie I've ever reviewed to get the lowest rating I can give. Nothing. This is one of the worst movies I've ever seen. I can't even get angry at it, because from the start, I knew this one wasn't gonna be any good. Five minutes in, I was just counting the problems. Nothing of any quality saves this movie. The soundtrack wasn't bad, but it doesn't carry the movie in the way the soundtrack in say, Star Trek: The Motion Picture would. You can tell the actors are trying, but the movie they're in and the blandness of their characters didn't make me care once. When your movie does so little to keep my interest, so little to keep me from wanting to do something else, you can bet your movie will get a big fat zero in my book. And I'm sure some of you who found some saving graces in this film will try to convince me otherwise. But to put it bluntly for you...I don't care. If you find this film as a guilty pleasure, all the more power to you. Just keep it far away from me. I don't want to touch this movie ever again.

Please feel free to request any film you'd like me to take a look at down below. Leave a comment reviewing your own thoughts and feelings about the film, and as always, thanks for reading.

Well now that that shitty movie is finally behind me, I feel so much better. Like it is a relief to finally be done with this movie, you guys have no idea. Now I gotta figure out what I wanna do with the DVD copy I painfully had to buy to watch this. I don't know yet. But I'm telling you guys, there's no way it can get any worse than King Kong Lives in this marathon I'm putting myself in. So see you guys next week when we review a lost cartoon movie in the Kong franchise. An animated musical featuring the voice of Ariel from The Little Mermaid, "The Mighty Kong". See you next week.

Final Verdict: 0/4

Thursday, February 2, 2017

THROWBACK REVIEW: King Kong (1976)

1976 was a huge year for Kong. After getting the rights, film producer Dino De Laurentiis would approach director John Guillermin to direct his very own adaptation of King Kong. The resulting publicity which would develop around this picture, made it one of the most hyped films of its time. If you wanna picture a world without social media, crazy fandoms and other things that factor into film hype, you might get an idea over just how excited people were over this film. The promotions, the merchandising.  It was on magazine covers, drinking glasses, burger commercials, lunch boxes, it even had its own drink! You can tell that they really were anticipating something huge with this picture. Another thing that caught everyone's attention was that the iconic climax was going to take place atop the then, very new twin towers of the World Trade Center (this move alone influenced some false marketing on the newest American Release of Godzilla VS Megalon, who had the film poster showing the two monsters battling atop the Trade Center). And as I read, it had a very distinctive tagline to get the viewers attention: "There is still only one King Kong." That tagline alone should really reach out to any fan of Kong. And this was the time of the blockbuster. Jaws had come out a year prior to this, and Star Wars was one year away. Kong's remake would ultimately prove to be a very decent success at the box office, and honestly, on paper this movie sounds wonderful.

A modern remake of King Kong. Just think of the possibilities in that idea. King Kong, set in 1976. I'm on board already. And I will give credit where credit is due. You can tell by the time you press play that they did everything they could to make this remake stand out on its own. The opening act of this movie is absolutely wonderful, and ironically enough, it wasn't until Kong was introduced to the film, that I began to see the problems. A lot of these problems are superficial, but they build up to the point where you're unsure what to think of this movie. Is it good? Is it bad? I'm right there with you. My best answer to you there is, the movie's not bad...but it could have been WAY better.

The opening for this movie again is wonderful. Where the original focuses on a film crew, intent on make this daring adventure of a picture, this film focuses instead on an expedition party hoping to find a vast source of oil on this mysterious island. Led by Fred Wilson (the Carl Denham of the movie), he's putting everything on the line in hopes of making a huge oil strike. On this journey, we're also introduced to stowaway Jack Prescott (Jack Driscoll) and Dwan (Ann Darrow) whom they rescue at sea. Getting to know these characters before they reach the island can be fun, and I can certainly say that the people who portray them, from Jeff Bridges, to Jessica Lange do a good job with their characters. Sure there's a little campy humor, but it does have its own little charm. My biggest gripe with them at certain points is that the characters don't exactly feel that developed. One thing I must also address is that I believe this movie has the best portrayal of the island natives that I've seen in any of these movies. It's not as realistic or crazy as Peter Jackson's remake, but nowhere near as stereotypical as the original film. And though I'll address this more when I review the movie, I never really cared for Jackson's portrayal of the Natives. I loved the costumes here. I loved the rituals. The sacrifice scene is arguably the best scene of the movie. I loved the portrayal of the Natives all around. It's things like this the film hammers. It just straight up hits the target, and really gets you into the mood of the picture. And speaking of the mood, the musical score of this picture isn't half bad either.  There are a lot of times the music has such a presence in this film, such as with the Natives. But unfortunetaly, this is all before we see the first glimpses of Kong himself. Once Kong appears, things start to get hazy.

How is Kong? Like Toho, and Queen Kong, this movie went with a suit to portray Kong. And after watching three different companies attempting to portray Kong in a suit, I'm gonna lay it on the table for you. Kong just isn't gonna be convincing if you're gonna portray him with an ape suit. There's something missing. I will say that the suit doesn't look terrible, as it does in the Toho films or Queen Kong, but it's still not that convincing. Another thing that stands out is his roar. It's...wonderful. But at the same time it can be so damn annoying. Especially when it's drawn out as it can be (like during the climax). It really is a roar I really want to like, but there are times I just want to turn the volume down, or just yell out, "Oh my God, shut up!" It likely didn't help that the production team I guess was almost always on ends with each other. Where one was satisfied, the other wasn't and it can really show in this movie.

Another thing that stands out in almost all the wrong ways is Skull Island. Because...what is Skull Island? It's Kong's home. A mysterious island full of adventure, mystery, and of course, danger at every corner. And I don't believe I've ever seen such a bland setup for Skull Island in my life. It does a really good job building up the island, with it being hidden by this thick fog bank, and of course it hammers the island natives to a T, but after that, it's all downhill. Once our heroes go out in search of Dwan, there's really...not a lot that happens. The lush jungles are replaced by a lifeless forest, which can transform at times into this place that better resembles the surface of the moon. While at times this can be kinda cool, it is absolutely devoid of any life. Which isn't what Skull Island should be. And the biggest complaint here? There are absolutely NO dinosaurs. No monsters! Except for this one giant snake that Kong fights for roughly two minutes. Now you compare the numerous fights Kong had in the 1933 film to this and tell me what movie depicted Skull Island better. QUEEN KONG had dinosaurs. And sure they were shit, but it at least gave us something resembling Skull Island. I understand this film was trying to be its own thing, but it didn't even try with Skull Island. In a Kong movie, I don't think that's something I can look at lightly.

One thing this film did do somewhat good with however was the relationship between Kong and Dwan. Like other Kong movies, it attempts to put together this relationship between beauty and the beast. It's not perfect, and there are a few scenes that some might find rather awkward, but for the most part, I thought the film did a decent job with this little aspect. I particularly liked one part where Kong takes Dwan to a waterfall, and allows her to wash herself, before he attempts to dry her off. It's not a perfect scene, but I thought it had a little charm. It's small things like this that do keep me watching despite the numerous problems that begin to arise with this film after Kong shows up.

And of course...we gotta talk about the climax. Because I don't think a Kong climax has ever been so underwhelming. Despite such an incredible setup. Kong is of course captured and brought to New York to...perform in this circus owned by the oil company? I have no idea what their idea here is. And he wastes no time escaping the circus act (Literally, as soon as the guy says the cage he's in is escape-proof, Kong is tearing it apart. Was it made by Acme?), and going on an actually pretty fun rampage of the city. I loved how he tore the roofs off of trains and whatnot. It's a city rampage that's really kinda fun to watch, before we of course see him climbing not the Empire State Building, but the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

This was a move that was borderline genius. When the movie came out in 1933, the Empire State Building had only been open about two years. When this came out, the twin towers were also rather new, only open about five years. So giving them a little screen time was a good move. Unfortunetaly, the actual climax itself in which Kong fights off these military helicopters is...not that exciting. Through it all, he just kinda stands there getting shot into a bloody mess, in a surge of bad effects, and annoying roars. I also feel that the ending of this film just kinda feels pointless. There is no "beauty killed the beast" quote, it just kinda ends with our lead roles sad that Kong is dead. Really nothing more and nothing less.

Truth be told, I keep going back and forth on this movie. I want to like it. I really do. It's not perfect, but if you want a fun fact, this was the first Kong movie I ever saw. My mom actually kinda really likes this movie. I saw the entire climax, and it introduced me to King Kong. This movie is responsible for my love of giant monsters. Yet there's just so much missing. It's got heart, it's got a good cast, a good setup...but a lot of pieces to this puzzle are missing, which brings me to my final Verdict, issued with tough love.

I'm giving the 1976 Dino De Laurentiis remake of King Kong a two and a half star rating. It is way too much of a hit or miss film for me to score it any higher, but it doesn't deserve a lower rating. It needs to be said that I did enjoy watching this. And this is a movie I considered apart the worst giant monsters at one point. Perhaps I need to move it off the list now? For all I know, one more viewing of the film will make me hate it again. I don't know. But for what it is right now, I think this is one I can safely say is an interesting watch to say the least. If you're curious, you'll likely find something fun. There's still only one Kong alright, but I'm not gonna say it's in this film.

Please feel free to suggest any movies you'd like to see me review. Leave a comment down below expressing your own thoughts of the movie, and as always, thanks for reading.

Next week...(sigh) we take a look at the sequel to this film. Job me next week for King Kong Lives, a film said to be soonest the worst of the worst.

Final Verdict: 2.5/4

Friday, January 27, 2017

THROWBACK REVIEW: Queen Kong (1976)

Queen Kong is...a King sized stinker. Really, who thought this would be a good idea for a movie? If you want an idea of what the hell I just watched, just think to last year when the reboot for Ghostbusters came out. Remember all the controversy? I'm not gonna talk about it, because I really didn't care either way about it, but Queen Kong is essentially doing what the Ghostbusters would do last year. Only...times ten. Where the Ghostbusters would just say "Hey, we're gonna take the main characters of the original film and do that film if they were women", Queen Kong said, "I'm gonna do King Kong. Only I'm going to reverse the roles of everyone!" I kid you not, you play this movie after watching King Kong, and the roles of practically everyone are reversed. Without the risk of sounding sexist...there are a LOT of women in this picture. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but the overall film that they're in, the lazy production, the dumb and unfunny jokes, the pop cultural references that go nowhere, before it all just train wrecks into this climax that makes absolutely no sense, really make this a film I wanna give a giant middle finger to. And truthfully, part of me was actually hoping for a decent laugh at least. I love British humor, and this film was a British feature. But my God...talk about high expectations.

The film is of course the story of King Kong, only gender-swapped. We have this director by the name of Luce who is looking for a gentle, handsome man for her picture, which brings her upon this hippie boy wonder, named Ray. She drugs him, kidnaps him, and takes him to this island of natives who worship this huge ape monster named Kong, and yes, it's a she. Gorilla boobies and all (I wouldn't normally point this out, but the film does, so I will too). And it looks like shit. Like the Toho films, this film would use a suit to portray their Kong character, and it's just so inconsistent, so unconvincing, that I won't bother talking anymore about it. The dinosaurs of the film aren't any better either. The costumes straight up look like paper mache, and may very well be as such. You can tell the film is on a budget. But come on movie...these costumes just look half-assed! Anyway back to the story that's the same as King Kong, Queen Kong...or Queenie as Ray calls her, falls in affection with hippy boy wonder, and from there, the film just becomes this big romance chase of hippy boy wonder, because apparently the director Luce finds him attractive as well. Yeah guys, the fact that Queenie falls in affection with Ray is about the only real similarity that this movie has with King Kong.

The production of this movie is so unbelievably cheap that it became insultingly noticeable. The production of this movie makes some of the worst Godzilla movies out there look incredible by comparison. For example, in the beginning of the movie, the crew of the ship (all female) decide to have a musical number about their ship, because movie. There's nothing wrong with the song really, other than it being utter shit, and the choreography being incredibly lazy (the girls honestly don't look like they're even trying), but towards the end of this musical number, I began to notice something rather peculiar. The instrumental track and the vocal track were getting off sync. So the girls were singing ahead of the actual music. Did...no one realize this? Anyone at all? That is a fix that would take me less than five minutes in editing. I've already talked about the horrible suits and unconvincing dinosaurs, so I won't bother with them again. The costumes. Holy crap, I don't know if this was done intentionally or whatnot, but the costumes of the Natives are even more stereotypical than the original 1933 film. Was that intentional??? They're terrible! Ray wears this really stupid "attractive" costume, and compares himself to Elton John. Ray, you take that back, Elton John may not be a fashion master, but he dresses way better than you. It's also worth noting that the musical score is absolute shit, and so are most of the sound effects. There's no memorable theme whatsoever. It's just a score to tell you, "Hey, it's the seventies!" Though I'll give whatever band came up with the title song some credit. I hate the lyrics of it, but it's decently jamming. Just wish there was a bit more creativity and not so much adolescence in lyrics like "She's the queenie queenie for my weenie." Well done there...

I'm getting off track here...

For a British Comedy, there is very little comedy here. I'm a huge fan of British humor. I grew up introduced to Monty Python from my father, and I'm a huge fan of comedies by both Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and one of my favorite YouTubers is Alex of I Hate Everything, who lives in Britain himself (and ironically enough, is the guy behind the "Because movie"  catchphrase that I love so much). So I was hoping for that British charm here. But it's incredibly absent. The film is absolutely littered with unfunny jokes, political jabs that I just rubbed my face in frustration to, and pop cultural references that are there...because they're apparently funny. It's incredibly disappointing. I can't say there weren't times I didn't feel a smile forming or let out a chuckle, or simply say "Ha ha...", but most of these moments seemed to be at the beginning of the film. As the film went on, I realized there was very little meat on these bones. And I think I have it figured out. It's because of Ray. Almost half the jokes of this movie are given by him, and the guy's just not funny. He lacks any charm to really be able to drop a punchline about Jimmy Carter. A lot of the time, he just looks blazed out of his mind, to the point that makes you wonder if all those joints he's asking for in the movie are actually real joints.

But I think the most confusing thing about this film is its climax, believe it or not. After an unfunny line by Ray, about how he wishes the Empire State Building was there, Queenie decides to scale Big Ben. Okay, I can get behind that. But instead of this action climax we all think we're gonna get, it quickly transforms into this "rights for women" message that falls flat. Look, I'm for Gender Equality. The fact that we're still having problems with it is really kinda sad nowadays, but this film just...isn't the film to preach this. Seriously. Queenie scales Big Ben, and Ray begins preaching from this Helicopter PA system that women don't have to be objectified, or taken advantage of anymore and whatnot, and it falls flat. Why? BECAUSE IN THIS MOVIE, THE WOMEN ARE PRETTY MUCH IN CONTROL OF EVERYTHING. Seriously, a scene earlier, Queenie has to save Ray from Luce who's trying to force herself on Ray. If anything, Ray is the one being used, objectified, and taken advantage of. But all of a sudden, the film forgets this and it has all these women protesting in the streets against the power of men, and for Queenie to be set free, and for women to stand up, and I just don't get why. Was this film trying to be a film for women's rights? Why does the film go this route immediately after Ray is almost raped by one? Am I missing something here? Why is my brain hurting by thinking about this? I don't care anymore, I want to get this over with. Queenie is of course set free amidst all the protests, she takes Ray back to her jungle island home, Luce watches in sadness before wondering if they'd allow her to join in a threesome, and as Brendon Tenold would say, Ray likely dies by crushed pelvis. It's funny because giant bestiality everyone! Just the joke to go out on! Fuck this movie.

Queen Kong gets a half star rating out of four. And the only reason it's not getting that lowest rating I can possibly give is because despite almost everything in this film absolutely sucking, the film does have a few laughs. I had a legit chuckle with the policemen when Queenie is walking through London. And despite it being such a lame joke, I chuckled when Luce talked about how her films have "not one wave" before someone obviously just throws a bucket of water at her. It's the British Charm in those silly jokes I could get behind. But literally nothing else. And to my knowledge, this film was pretty much doomed from the start. It never saw theatrical release when Dino De Laurentiis, producer of the next week's movie and RKO copyright holder of King Kong at the time took legal action against the film. It had some theatrical runs in southern Europe, and has a cult following in Japan but that's it. If you were anywhere morbidly curious about this film, listen well. Do not, I repeat...DO NOT go looking for a DVD. You can find the entire thing on YouTube. For free. That's how I watched it, and that's how I'll tell anyone else who wants to watch this shitty film to watch it. YouTube likely doesn't deserve this shit in its database, but it's there. Take advantage of it. 

Please feel free to request any films you'd like to see me review. Leave a comment down below expressing your thoughts on the film, as all comments are appreciated, and as always, thanks for reading.

Next week in the Kong-a-thon...King Kong sees his very first remake, as he returns to the States. Next week, Paramount takes on the roles of giving us King Kong, in the 1976 remake. See you then.

Final Verdict: 0.5/4

Thursday, January 19, 2017

THROWBACK REVIEW: King Kong Escapes (1967)

Well it's kinda hard to talk about this dumb film without talking a bit about its backstory. In 1966, King Kong debuted in his very first cartoon show, simply known as "The King Kong Show". It was made by American Film Company, Rankin/Bass Productions, but also partnered with Toei Animation over in Japan to collaborate with the show. If you're unfamiliar with Rankin/Bass, they did the cartoon renditions of both "The Hobbit", and "Return of the King". They also did "Mouse on the Mayflower". Still not ringing a bell? Okay, they did those stop-motion animation Christmas specials you love so much like "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer". Yeah that company. And Toei is behind Dragonball which I don't care for, so moving right along. They had a King Kong Cartoon. I really wanted to review this, but honestly, the show lacks any depth for me to devote a full review to it. Each story is around six minutes long, is a rather simple story about this group of people, who team up with King Kong to fight this evil supercriminal mastermind named Dr. Who (....no not THAT Dr. Who), and end up foiling his plans after a fight with dinosaurs or whatnot. It's not exactly the best show out there, but it's harmless. The animation is bland, the characters are bland, the action is bland, but again, there's nothing really condemning about it. If it had more depth to the overall story, and if I could find it, I'd probably give it a review. But it doesn't, and I can't.

Well after King Kong VS Godzilla, Toho maintained an interest in producing King Kong movies, and partnered up with Rankin/Bass. They came forward with a script for a new King Kong movie they wanted to make, but because Rankin/Bass felt the movie didn't reflect the spirit of the show, they rejected it. The script would move forward and become "Ebirah, Horror of the Deep", otherwise known as "Godzilla VS The Sea Monster", another movie I debated long and hard about reviewing in this Kong-a-thon. Why? Because the movie really is kinda...terrible in the sense that it doesn't at all feel like a Godzilla film. You can tell that it was meant to star King Kong, despite the fact that Godzilla is right there. He's got all the King Kong characteristics. It stands as one of the first examples in which I really believe...they just didn't care. There was no rewrite, there was no edit, they shoe-horned in Godzilla in place of Kong, and the movie sucked. But...Toho didn't give up. They came forward with another script for a Kong movie that did get approved and the result was "King Kong Escapes". And my God they tried...

Right off the bat, something feels off about this film. One thing I guess I should say is that this seems to be a different incarnation of Kong than what we saw in King Kong VS Godzilla five years prior to this. Here, King Kong lacks his electricity powers, I think his size is smaller, and it just feels more like a standalone film than it does anything else. I guess that's not a bad thing, but my God, there is something missing from this film. And I can't put my finger on it. Based loosely from the cartoon I just mentioned, King Kong Escapes focuses on this group of criminal masterminds looking to take over the world by creating superweapons from this substance called Element X. Lead by Dr. Who, who often enjoys reminding you who he is, he builds a large robot monkey with the sole purpose of digging up this ore. I don't know why he didn't just build a digging machine, but I guess we need our Tokyo Tower climax later on. So...nice big metal monkey there, Dr. Who. Your evil plans will forever be a mystery to me.

I'm not gonna bother hiding it, the characters of this movie are atrocious. The only character I found any likable traits in was Dr. Who, mainly because of how cartoonishly evil he is. The way he speaks, his motivation, his goals, he even has a decent evil laugh now and then. He's an absolute riot. Too bad he's the only memorable character. The heroes of this film I wanna say are barely even a thing in this film. You have the woman that Kong of course takes an interest in, but she feels much like the girl from King Kong VS Godzilla, in that she's there just to be a damsel. There's no depth to her character out any of the other characters I might add. And joining her are her love interest, and this other generic captain explorer character...who are also in this movie. The most confusing character however is this...anti-hero-villain woman who's often telling Dr. Who what to do. I have no idea what to call her. At first she's this villain looking to take over the world. Then because movie she's suddenly questioning her morals. Then because movie, she's a villain again, threatening Dr. Who. Then because movie she tries to romance one of the heroes. Then because movie she starts turning to a good guy? Look I don't need to explain anymore that her character is poorly executed and just sucks in general. Her motivations in this film are absolutely stupid. They make no sense. She's the worst character of the film. One thing I found hilarious however was that the lead hero roles are obviously American actors. I was treated to an unintentional hilarious realization that they themselves were dubbed in Japanese. It can be hilarious to see them obviously speaking English, only to hear a Japanese voice actor dub them. It's the first time I've actually seen that.

The effects of this film, my God. Much like King Kong VS Godzilla, they're incredibly dated, and don't hold up, but unlike King Kong VS Godzilla, they stand out way more. There are effects that are hilariously bad. Like Kong's or Mechi-Kong's obviously blue-screened hand quickly grabbing the woman in a fashion that would likely kill her. I also loved how Monda Island, where Kong lives, had giant lawn grass everywhere, and only one...ONLY ONE NATIVE. Maybe the rest of the Natives saw the script for this movie and gave it the finger. The suit of Kong again just isn't convincing. The first time we see him, we just see his eyes open from a sleep, and he looks half-dead. I will say that Mechi-Kong is actually pretty cool as far as effects and looks are concerned. He has the most convincing costume of the film. It doesn't stand out nearly as much as Kong. The suit for that was well done.

And the action of the film can be fun. I enjoyed the climax well enough. Watching Kong battle Mechi-Kong on Tokyo Tower, watching it rock back and forth was very entertaining, even if it got rather easy to mock what was going on. I also enjoyed the first appearance of Godzilla fan favorite monster, Gorosaurus. The battle between him and Kong is pretty cool, though the death of Gorosaurus could have been better. Really dull sound effect for Kong prying the jaw apart. But as fun as some of the action is, it's also incredibly lacking. One thing I found disappointing was that there is absolutely no city rampage scene. Sure we get the battle on Tokyo Tower, and Mechi-Kong destroys a building upon entrance, but that's it. There's no rampage despite it leading us to believe there would be one. I'll also say the military of this film did the worst possible job evacuating the city in any of these movies out there. They show the evacuations, then all of a sudden all the civilians are back to witness the Tower battle? Shouldn't they be gone? Oh well, there wasn't any rampage. No big loss. Oh and by the way the musical score by Akira Ifukube is not in any way memorable in this film. Rather disappointing honestly.

I know I'm being rather critical here, but honestly, I can't say this film is completely bad. One thing I must credit the film for doing is being among the first films to attempt to develop the relationship between the woman, and Kong. It's the first film in which the woman he finds attraction to, isn't always afraid of Kong. In the movie, she volunteers to be picked up by him to attempt to calm him down. She develops this playmate relationship in a way, but at the same time, she can still hold to that fear. It's really weird. Eventually, she pretty much can give verbal commands to Kong. That's right, I forgot to mention that King Kong in this movie precisely just understands human language. The movie isn't all bad. It's not strong, but I can see it working as a kids film perhaps. This was after all based off a rather bland kids cartoon from back in the day. This film didn't have a lot to go off of. So as bad as it is, I don't blame Toho for it. It's not their fault. I can see effort being put into this. Their desire to do Kong justice is still there. The respect, the love, the want to do good with Kong does still show. Unfortunetaly, it's just too bland, too dated, and too...dull to really be anything more than a kids adventure. And not a very good one at that. So I can't be getting generous with the verdict.

King Kong Escapes is a one and a half star rating out of four for me. Yeah, pretty dang bad. I'm at a bit of a loss for words on this one actually. You can tell it was trying to go for that child audience again. Much like its predecessor, but where King Kong VS Godzilla succeeded with likable characters, fun action, and creative ideas, this film feels held back. It makes me wish Ebirah was indeed a Kong film. It likely would have faired much better than this film. This film wasn't allowed to experiment, it wasn't allowed to do much of anything to make it stand out. And the blame for that lies solely with Rankin/Bass. And unfortunetaly this would be the final film that Toho would make with Kong. They wanted him to appear in the Godzilla finale, Destroy All Monsters, but their license on the character ran out for them. They'd also try to remake King Kong VS Godzilla during the Heisei era, but couldn't get the rights, and instead went with King Ghidorah (and we all know how I feel about that one). King Kong Escapes was his last trial in Japan, and one that really just didn't do it for him. Not from me. And I'm sad to say that. I really do wish it could have been different. Perhaps one day again, Kong will return to Toho. Until that day though...keep watching King Kong VS Godzilla...and stay away from this movie.

Please feel free to suggest any films you'd like me to look at. Leave a comment down below expressing your own thoughts on the film, and as always, thanks for reading.

Kong's tenure in Japan has ended, but he isn't going back to the States yet...nope. Great Britain attempted to get in on the Kong franchise. However...they took creativity into their own hands, and decided to switch a lot of things up. Did you ever wanna see Kong as a girl? Well they thought you would. Next week, I'm taking on the parody film, "Queen Kong". See you then.

Final Verdict: 1.5/4

Friday, January 13, 2017

THROWBACK REVIEW: King Kong VS Godzilla (1962)

The popularity of King Kong after 1933 was apparent. It was an instant box office success, turning up a hefty profit and a bad sequel. Despite the minor setback, King Kong proved he was still on top for years. He saw his first theatrical re-release in 1938, though it would have certain parts censored as certain shots of the original film we're no longer appropriate at the time(mainly shots of Kong biting and attacking people, and removing parts of Ann's dress). Kong would also see theatrical re-releases during 1942, and 1946. Yet despite this success, he was not yet much of a pop culture icon. It wasn't until his theatrical re-release in 1952, that his rise to stardom would be apparent, and that his influence would finally start to be seen in film and culture. It was easily the most successful re-release of his time, and don't think I need to explain how or why. But for those who are in need of a refresh, let's talk about what happened after his global theatrical re-release in 1952.

King Kong's 1952 global showing would be a worldwide phenomenon, getting named "Movie of the Year" by Time Magazine. But one place Kong would find enormous popularity in would be Japan. Many people, who would work on a very iconic Japanese film would draw influence from King Kong. They were in such awe from the film that they wanted to shoot their film like just like that film. Unfortunetaly as they were pressed for time, they could not. But the resulting film they created would explode around the world, and this film of course, was Gojira. Otherwise known as Godzilla. Godzilla would quickly rise in popularity, and with his rise to stardom apparent, and with Kong's popularity still up there, someone around the world asked a question. If King Kong met Godzilla...what would happen?

Well, thanks to an unused idea from Willis O'Brien (in which King Kong would meet and fight a giant version of Frankenstein's Monster), and the people over at Toho (many of whom wanted very much to shoot a King Kong movie), we got an answer in a film that to date, remains the biggest box office hit featuring Godzilla. A film that not only featured two very popular monsters, but helped launch the Godzilla franchise to even higher stages of popularity. We got the film, King Kong VS Godzilla. A film with such a legacy behind it, that to present day, fans of both franchises continue to debate the fight, and who was meant to be the true winner. There are many urban legends surrounding this film, many which say that there's a Japanese cut where Godzilla wins and other similar myths, but let the record show that this is untrue. It may not stop the debates but...spoiler alert, King Kong wins. It's really that simple. Japan themselves advertised the film as Kong being the winner. Why? Because he was the more popular monster at the time, and at this time, Godzilla wasn't really quite in his hero stages yet. Hell, even the movie reminds you that Kong is just an animal, but Godzilla is a "monster" born from radiation. There's absolutely no purpose to this line other than to remind the viewer that Kong is the good guy, and Godzilla is the bad guy. So...there. Accept it. Godzilla lost to the giant ape. With all this said, how's the actual movie?

Well watching it again (and to those wondering, I watched the original Japanese cut), I really wasn't expecting much, but for a while, I was very much pleasantly surprised with the film. It is very fun. Sure the plot kinda disintegrates towards the end, but you can tell there was a lot of effort thrown into this film to get King Kong just right. I'm not sure they got everything right, but you can tell there was a lot of effort from Japan here, not only to do justice to Kong, but to make him a match for Godzilla, and to keep the spirit of the monster present within the film. They're very hit or miss with this unfortunetaly. One thing I didn't really care for was the Kong suit. While I understand that they were on a budget, you can tell that it's very much obviously a suit. The teeth don't always line up, the mouth can hang open, but one thing I hated was the arms. There were times the arms looked disjointed or out of place. I think the guy wearing the suit was holding arm extensions at times because the arms at times take an unnatural bend towards the elbow area. Like something getting pulled down by gravity. I also never liked how the fists never closed whenever Kong beat on his chest. Surely this could have been fixed guys. It's just not as threatening or intimidating as it normally is. My final criticism to Kong in this movie is that while we get plenty of hints to why Kong has the power that he does in this movie, it's never explained. I want someone to tell me exactly why electricity helps Kong fight better. The movie doesn't explain. It just kinda shows Kong munching on power lines and getting revived by lightning (lightning that doesn't strike anywhere close to him).  But regardless of my criticisms, you can definitely tell that again, they did put a lot of effort into his behavior and actions. From him finding a certain woman attractive, to him defending island natives who revere him as a god, Japan really did do their homework for keeping the spirit of Kong alive in this movie. Is it the same Kong we're used to? No. But it does the monster justice. It almost makes me ashamed of our Godzilla 1998 movie just a bit more.

Speaking of Godzilla, his suit is about as convincing as Kong's honestly. I could be mistaken, but I feel that this suit they used is much different than what they used before. It seems...lighter. Which honestly, I think kinda hurts this film a bit because there are times you can most definitely tell that it is a suit. The rubber can bend in places it shouldn't bend, the face, like Kong's, just isn't that convincing, it just could have been polished up a bit more. One thing I actually had to chuckle at was that there are times in the movie that Godzilla flails his arms at times, and you can hear the rubber hitting. You'd think something like that would get cleaned out in editing. And it's not just in one point of the movie. It happens numerous times. I also am a bit lost to the special effects of this film. Particularly that around Godzilla's breath. It's not nearly as bad as Godzilla VS The Sea Monster, but I do think they could have made it slightly more convincing than a slightly blue mist.

From monsters to story, does it hold up? Well right off the bat, I can say that the story was fun to follow while it lasted. It's not the greatest story ever told and it's not exactly told the best, but it does have a lot of charm. The only real weakness it has, is that once the monsters start fighting, the story is practically dropped. All human characters are reduced to literally nothing but spectators as both King Kong and Godzilla fight. This isn't an exaggeration. Despite some fun aspects in this story, about halfway through the film, the characters do nothing but watch the monsters from afar, or argue over who's the stronger monster. You know...like real life Godzilla fans. And once the fighting is over, they literally just shoe-horn in a message about treating earth and nature better, despite that not once in the film is the treatment of the environment ever mentioned. I find this lazy, even for early Godzilla. 

This is a bit of a shame because I was actually quite interested in the characters of this film. While the film has its fair share of characters that are forgettable, I forgot how much of a riot the head of the pharmaceutical company was. I'm not sure I follow his plan with Kong, mainly because of his dialogue. At first he's looking to boost his ratings for this science tv show he has, then he's pretty much announcing Kong as a brand sponser, it's a very confusing plot, but you don't care because of how funny this guy can be. You can easily detect that this movie was going for a much more light-hearted feel. It's goofy and silly, but in all the right ways. Other characters really aren't so essential, like one of the sister characters that Kong finds attractive. This girl serves no purpose for the film other than to be the token damsel in distress. She struggles clumsily across a river fleeing from Godzilla, she is captured by Kong to try and pay homage to the climax of the original movie, but seeing how beauty doesn't kill the beast here, and seeing how she's nowhere near as memorable as scream queen Ann Fray, the scene kinda feels unnecessary to me. There's also the fact that the size of the woman in the hand of Kong just isn't accurate. With the size of Kong, she'd be a lot smaller than that doll we see. And yes, you can obviously tell that Kong is holding what is likely a barbie doll. Gotta love budgets. And thanks to the fact that there's likely a 200 pound actor in that gorilla suit, Kong just kinda stands on what amounts to a common courthouse, rather than scaling a tall skyscraper. Just not that exciting.

I think my final criticism of the movie goes to the unfortunate aspect of time. This movie really hasn't aged well. At all. I normally don't criticize movies based on age, but I think I have a bit of a right to with this one, because this film is infamous for how poorly preserved it is. In 1970, director Ishiro Honda prepared an edited version of this film for a film festival, but made a terrible mistake of making actual edits to the films original negative. As a result, a lot of the footage was lost, as was some of the highest quality shooting. I'm willing to bet none of us have seen the original theatrical release of this film. You can tell there are problems in the editing of this film. There were times the frame jumped for a quick second, or there were times that I felt certain frames were just straight up missing. Ishiro really should have done a better job preserving this film.  It also needs to be said that other effects just aren't so convincing. Kong's blinking eyes, scenes involving obvious blue screens, obvious reused shots, you can really tell this film has not aged well at all.

But that's literally all I can really say as far as criticism is concerned. Some flat characters, a plot that kinda falls apart at the end, and effects that don't hold up nowadays. Everything else is just way too fun. I loved how Kong got his own Tokyo rampage scene. And they made it rather unique, too! Where Godzilla or literally any other monster in Toho's lineup will just kinda slowly walk through the city in question, slowly raining down destruction and whatnot like a giant lumbering tank, King Kong when he enters Tokyo, straight up RUNS through it. It's a nice little break from the mold that I really liked. I also loved how at one particular point, he just straight up punched one of the buildings down. He picks up trains like Godzilla, he scales the small model town buildings, it's all fun to watch, even if the homage to the original climax again, does fall a bit flat. I know I've said it already, but you can definitely tell that Toho was looking to get the character of Kong dead on. And the fights with Godzilla? They're fun, entertaining, and cheesy hilarious. Yeah due to the effects, I'm getting similar feelings that I'd get watching Arena from Star Trek, but I can look past that. You can tell that these fights are meant to be slightly comedic, while maintaining their intense fighting atmosphere. It's a wonderful treat to behold.

And one thing I'm gonna shower this film with praise on is Akira Ifukube's music score. This is the film that would help define some of the most iconic music in the Godzilla films for years to come. While we don't hear the iconic theme from 1954 here, you do hear a very iconic piece that would soon become part of that iconic theme. I think every fan kinda knows that piece I'm talking about. And if that's not enough, Kong's theme is absolutely haunting. From the time you press play on the movie, you're treated to this absolutely incredible theme, which though simple, shows the intimidation, the mystery, the all around atmosphere of the King Kong character. The sounds of the choir chanting over those strings, tribal drums, timpani, while the winds and brass give powerful blasts in the background is one of the coolest pieces of music of the entire Godzilla franchise. Incredible job from Akira for putting this score together.

If you put everything together, King Kong VS Godzilla remains a bit of a fan favorite, and one of the biggest films of the Godzilla franchise for a reason. It's by no means the best, but for me personally, despite its flaws, it's certainly up there. Even the American version is rather enjoyable. Aside from dubbing difference, the American version did add their own particular touch to the film. They added scenes of people talking on the news comparing the two monsters, how Godzilla is brute force, and how Kong is more of a thinking animal, and how they used footage from a film called "The Mysterians", to help enhance the earthquake at the very end of the film. They also rechanged sequences, and unfortunetaly almost completely replaced the Ifukube score with music from films such as "Creature from the Black Lagoon", "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman", among many many many other films, but regardless of it, you can tell that they too were interested in presenting this film as best they could for their respective audiences. And it's fun to compare the two versions.

I'm giving King Kong VS Godzilla a solid rating of three stars out of four. While I wish I could have given it a higher rating, it is held back by the problems I've talked about. But for King Kong fans and Godzilla fans alike, you should already know that it's not any statement to say you shouldn't watch this, because the opposite couldn't be more true. This really is one of those pinnacle essential monster films to go and see. It likely helped boost King Kong's popularity higher than it already was, and for Godzilla? Well...do I need to say? The big guy's legacy has long since been sealed, and it likely owes a lot of that success to this movie alone. It remains the biggest box office hit of the franchise, and in all of Toho's 29 Godzilla films, it is the biggest hit it has to date. And with a remake finally heading our way in three short years?  You can bet that there's no one more anxious, more willing, more excited to see how they will make this already fun movie, into something even more fun. It is about damn time...

Please feel free to request any film you'd like to see me take a look at. Leave a comment explaining your own thoughts and opinions of the film, as they are all appreciated, and as always, thanks for reading.

King Kong's tenure in Japan didn't end with his victorious battle over Godzilla. Join me next week when Toho partners with American film company Rankin/Bass, in which Kong takes on a mechanical menace. See you next week when I analyze the film, "King Kong Escapes"! See you then!

Final Verdict: 3/4