There are very few things in this life that are considered critic proof. Troma, Three’s Company and the Police Academy movies come to mind as products that succeed even when they are pretty much universally panned by the press.
If you were a child in the sixties through the nineties, you know of one other franchise which wears a bulletproof vest against serious analysis.
Kaiju is a Japanese word that means strange creature, but is interpreted by most Americans to mean giant monster. And there is no Kaiju monster bigger in popularity than Godzilla!
When vintage Godzilla films are viewed through a child’s eyes, all that can be seen is the King of the Monsters, doing battle against a flamboyant array of Kaiju enemies. And even when we watch these Godzilla films with more mature eyes, our nostalgia for them overcomes any glaring faults with the films.
Of all the Godzilla films, the one that created the most buzz was King Kong vs Godzilla. Imagine it if you will as the Freddy vs Jason of Kaiju films.
Universal recently re-released King Kong vs Godzilla on Blu-Ray & DVD. I watched it with my six year-old, and he absolutely loved it. Originally released in 1962, the story starts with Godzilla who is freed from an iceberg. Meanwhile, the owner of a pharmaceutical company travels to a tropical island to capture and return King Kong to Japan for publicity. As both monsters converge on Japan, a showdown is inevitable.
If you are a Kong purist, you simply must put all of your arguments away. It is assumed that Kong, though much smaller than Godzilla in the original RKO film, has grown larger because of his berry diet on the island. Kong can also harness electricity and wield it as a weapon.
In their first encounter, Godzilla gives Kong a shot of radioactive breath and Kong stumbles away, confused. He scratches his head as he leaves as if to convey, “Shoot, no one told me he could do that.”
Kong is later drugged by his island berry wine and airlifted into a final battle against Godzilla. One thing that is worth pointing out: Kong spends a fair amount of time getting drunk and passing out (like many other leading men of his day, I would imagine).
Kong wakes up long enough to realize that he has been tied to a giant raft heading for Japan or floating in the sky via giant balloons while a raging Godzilla bellows beneath him. You almost feel sorry for the big guy, but he manages to pull up his boot straps in the final act and say, “Okay, let’s do this!”
King Kong vs Godzilla is notable for a couple of milestones. It is the first time either monster has appeared in color or widescreen. It is also the most popular Godzilla film of its day.
I recommend this movie, especially if you have little ones.
Check out the King Kong vs Godzilla trailer: