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King Kong vs. Godzilla(1962)
An exploration team discovers a lost tribe of savages and their god, a giant ape on a tropical island. They bring the monster to Japan just in time to fight Godzilla, who has appeared out of an iceberg.
For more about King Kong vs. Godzilla and the King Kong vs. Godzilla Blu-ray release, see King Kong vs. Godzilla Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on April 9, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Tadao Takashima, Kenji Sahara, Yű Fujiki, Jun Tazaki, Akihiko Hirata, Mie Hama
Director: Ishiro Honda
» See full cast & crew
King Kong vs. Godzilla Blu-ray Review
"My corns always hurt when they're near a monster!"
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, April 9, 2014
With a brand spankin' new Godzilla set to invade theaters in less than a month, giant monsters movies are lumbering out of the sea by the dozen. Announcements, releases, bargain bin sequels aplenty... if it has Godzilla on the cover, it's suddenly all the Blu-ray rage. Even Universal is diving in headfirst, first with Ishir˘ Honda's King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) and then with Honda's King Kong Escapes (1967), the latter sans Godzilla. Normally, such a deluge of lesser Japanese big-creature features would be a godsend for collectors and completists. What could possibly spoil the fun? Particularly for those who have a special place in their hearts for Honda's so-bad-they're-a-blast Toho Company King Kong flicks? Not a whole lot apparently. Priced to sell and backed by fairly decent AV quality, there isn't much here to prevent diehard fans of the towering icons from taking advantage of the catalog-broadening opportunity Sony's Godzilla reboot has provided.
When an underhanded pharmaceutical company goes to a remote tropical island to steal King Kong for advertising purposes, they get more than they bargained for when the gigantic ape attacks an unsuspecting village and an enormous octopus. Meanwhile, far below the sea, a submarine crew unleashes reptilian terror when they melt a block of ice and release the ferocious Godzilla from his icy lair. When both destructive monsters descend on Tokyo, it's a fight that holds the future of mankind in the balance in this knock-out film that was the first theatrical release to bring its larger-than-life contenders to the big screen in color.
Getting your money's worth out of King Kong vs. Godzilla or King Kong Escapes requires one to fully embrace the films' decidedly outmoded production values, camp-tastic performances, hilariously horrendous English dubs and rubbery, all too (wonderfully) cheesy special effects. Truly savoring these rickety classics, though, requires keen Mystery Science Theater 3000 sensibilities and an unapologetic love of mega-monster showdowns. If that sounds like a popcorn-laced ticket to a wildly entertaining Saturday evening, you're in luck, because King Kong vs. Godzilla and King Kong Escapes deliver the floppy fun, and then some. If not, it's probably best to start with the original Godzilla (1954's Gojira) or King Kong (1933), both of which significantly outclass and outmatch this Toho Company twofer. (There are even a number of Godzilla gems arriving in the coming weeks and months from Sony, Kraken Releasing and Tokyo Shock.)
Choosing between King Kong vs. Godzilla and King Kong Escapes isn't easy. Vs. certainly takes its "versus" literally, staging an all-out clash of the titans that takes its sweet time coming to fruition (more than an hour actually) but doesn't hold much back. Miniature villages are crushed, paper mache mountains crumble, styrofoam rocks are hurled, lightning strikes, waves rise and fires roar, all as Kong and Godzilla smash, bash and tail-grab one another in front of a small army of terrified onlookers. Escapes is a different beastie, though; one that provides more laughs from start to finish despite investing far more attention into its human characters and silly evil scientist plot than its titular behemoth. Even the final battle between beast and machine is rather anticlimactic (both Kong and MechaKong are rather dopey), paling in comparison to the twists and turns of the nefarious Dr. Hu's sneers and schemes.
But why choose when you can indulge? Break out the snacks, invite a few like-minded friends over for the evening and host a Double Feature. A good time will be had by all... or maybe just you. Either way, own your niche. Relish it. Build a collection around it. Ignore the scoffers, the middling reviews, the dismissals. Life's too short and movies -- the great and the mediocre alike -- are plentiful.
King Kong vs. Godzilla Blu-ray, Video Quality
Print damage is the real monster of King Kong vs. Godzilla. Scratches, nicks, specks, top-edge tape marks, thin vertical lines and other distractions pop up on a semi-regular basis, particularly when the cameras cut away to sequences centered around either creature. Crush takes a slight toll too, although I'm pleased to report there aren't many other issues of note, other than perhaps the unevenness that sometimes affects the grain. And yes, you read that correctly: grain. Rather than make a feeble attempt to eliminate print damage and other inconsistencies with heavy-handed noise reduction (as is often Universal's practice when approaching a catalog title), the studio presents a rather faithful video presentation. It isn't a top-dollar remaster along the lines of a higher profile Warner release, mind you, but it preserves the filmmakers' intentions and strongly resembles film, and each one goes a long way. Optical softness is present throughout, but smearing and waxiness aren't a part of the image. Crisp edges, reasonably well-resolved textures and an overall boost in clarity are the norm, and the movie has never looked better. Skintones and colors are also decently saturated given the overcast, blue-leaning palette, even if a dusty veil of gray haunts Kong and Godzilla's climactic tussle. I have to admit I didn't expect to be impressed with this one. If it weren't for all the print damage, my score would be higher.
King Kong vs. Godzilla Blu-ray, Audio Quality
King Kong vs. Godzilla and King Kong Escapes offer comparable English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 tracks, neither of which is all that problematic or remarkable. Dialogue is generally clean and clear, minus the usual tininess, ringing and prioritization mishaps that tend to be an inherent part of the sound designs of low-budget 1960s cinema. Effects are relatively weighty too, although I would have liked to see a more invigorating 5.1 remix (with booming LFE support and assertive rear speaker activity) alongside the original audio mix. Still, both tracks get the job done without major incident.
King Kong vs. Godzilla Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray edition of King Kong vs. Godzilla doesn't include any special features.
King Kong vs. Godzilla Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
King Kong vs. Godzilla isn't the drag-out, icon versus icon smash-em-up fans might expect from the title, but there's a lot of so-terrible-it's-terrific fun to be had all the same. Universal's Blu-ray release has something to offer too, namely a fairly faithful AV presentation. Still, an abundance of print damage and a barebones disc hold back what could have been a better supported monster matchup.
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King Kong vs. Godzilla Blu-ray, News and Updates
• King Kong Escapes & King Kong vs. Godzilla Blu-rays - January 29, 2014
Universal Studios Home Entertainment is bringing two giant monster catalog titles to Blu-ray in April: Ishir˘ Honda's King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) and King Kong Escapes (1967). Both Toho Company films make their Blu-ray debut on April 1st.
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