KING KONG VS. GODZILLA [1962] movie review

September 15, 2012 · Print This Article

I thought I was about to see a wrong be righted that has been scarring me for 30 years.  It turns out it was all a myth.  As a kid watching KING KONG VS. GODZILLA [1962] I saw my hero, Godzilla, inconceivably lose to King Kong at the end of the movie.  I just could not fathom it.  Godzilla was way bigger and has thermonuclear breath.  How could it be?  Later I would hear that in the Japanese version, Godzilla, in fact, wins.  Thus, this afternoon I queued up the Japanese version with 30 years of vindication ready to be felt, only to see my hero Godzilla lose again!  Had I still not seen the proper version?  A quick trip to Wikipedia told me yes, I had seen the real Japanese version, but it was only a myth that persisted for decades that there were two different endings to the movie.  There was only one, and in it, King Kong emerges victorious, though Godzilla is likely to have lived.

I also learned that KING KONG VS. GODZILLA was the highest grossing installment of the franchise in Japan for the Showa series films.  I was really surprised by that.  I actually found the movie to be rather below average, poorly directed this time by Ishiro Honda with the two monsters just popping up here and there with little connection between the scenes.

At least the opening scene explains the ending to possibly the worse Godzilla movie ever made, GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN (2nd movie in the franchise), where for some insane reason Godzilla heads to the arctic and for no reason at all just walks into an ice valley conveniently allowing the air force to bury him in an avalanche.  The opening of KKVG shows a glowing, flashing iceberg showing explosions as they say that look similar to ones of nuclear reactions.  Godzilla emerges!

In the meantime a hard pressed marketing director for a pharmaceutical company needs a new sponsor.  He hears of a monster on a south seas island and sends only two men with two rifles to bring back this supposedly huge creature!

We are given another version of the discovery of King Kong on his island, which is decent enough for the Toho level of special effects.  Of course Kong is brought back to Japan, as Godzilla makes his own way back to where he was born.

From here the movie is very disjointed.  All of a sudden King Kong and Godzilla approach each other, we were given no clue about this prior to the cut scene.  King Kong gets whooped, and just walks away head down.  They each separately destroy some more stuff, before Kong is literally air lifted in to fight Godzilla on the slopes of Mt. Fuji.  Again, we had no idea prior that Godzilla was there, the audience was led to believe Kong was just being moved out of Tokyo so he could not cause anymore destruction there.

Thus, the final battle began and I was totally ready to see that wrong be righted from all those years ago.  I did not know the alternate ending was a myth until I finished watching.  So in this mindset I actually came to feel a little sorry for Kong, as Godzilla was easily beating him up and roasting him.  After all, one character described them thusly, King Kong is a real animal, but Godzilla is a monster made by radiation.  I thought the comment both insightful and funny.

I remembered all these years later that Kong was struck by lightning that gave him a power boost which helped him defeat Godzilla.  This time I was thinking, wow, Kong is fighting strong again, how will Godzilla defeat him?  Then to my horror I see both monsters tumble into the sea locked in battle with only King Kong emerging and swimming south back to this home.  Thankfully, at the closing credits you hear Godzilla’s iconic roar, then Kong’s.

It was a surprising Saturday afternoon of movie history discovery as fact and myth were at long last clarified.

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