A pair of giants reviewed
by Mike Bollinger
As a fan of classic monster movies since a small child, I've always counted Godzilla and King Kong amongst my favorites. Godzilla always managed to edge out Kong though, as I suspect my childhood love of all things dinosaur tipped the scales in his favor. Anyway, to this day, I'm always up for a good giant monster (or Kaigu, as they're known) film. Be it Godzilla, King Kong, Gamera, or any of the classic sci-fi "B' movies of the 1950s, I'll sit and watch. Once last month rolled around, I was especially excited as Peter Jackson's King Kong was released into theaters. On top of that, the "last" Godzilla movie, Godzilla: Final Wars, was released stateside on DVD. I couldn't wait to see either one. Here's a brief review of each.
Peter Jackson's love of King Kong is evident from the start of the film. Closely following the 1933 classic directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack, the hour and a half it takes until we get to see Kong is not wasted, nor does the audience have a chance to lose interest. The human story has a great blend of humor, action and mystery. They even slip a subtle homage to Fay Wray in.
Once Kong hits the screen, you can't look away. There's constant action and interaction between the Ann Darrow character and her simian suitor. From dinosaurs and giant insects to the beautiful jungle scenery, Kong just fits. Going into the theater I knew Kong was going to be completely CG, and at times you could see it, but I really didn't mind as they really did a fantastic job of fleshing out his character and making the audience care about a 25 foot tall gorilla. You laugh when he does, you feel his frustration, and his sadness too. Most people already know how this movie was going to end you find yourself dreading the ending that you know is coming.
I have no other choice than to give this flick two big monkey thumbs up.
Godzilla: Final Wars
While this film never saw theater screens in the states (unless you were lucky enough to get to G-Fest, the Godzilla convention, or a special showing), it made headlines when Toho announced that it would be the last Godzilla film they make for at least a decade. This news saddened countless G-Fans (myself included) and only added to the anticipation of seeing the finished film. Toho announced it would be their best Godzilla film to date, with the inclusion of over a dozen giant monsters and a monster budget to boot. Directed by up-and-coming Japanese filmmaker Ryuhei Kitamura, who directed such new cult classics as Versus and Azumi, the film promised to be action-packed. And it was.
Godzilla went into battle with many of his old foes, including: Keizer Ghidorah, King Caesar, Gigan, Rodan, Anguirus, Kamacuras, Kumonga, Ebirah and Hedorah. A new monster named "Monster X" made his "debut," Mothra showed up and of course there was a healthy helping of aliens and mutants too. Veterans of other G-Films returned for this monster bash, and so did a classic vehicle, the Gotengo, also known as Atragon. A favorite scene has Godzilla fight the American version Godzilla, named "Zilla."
While the fights were great, and seeing all those monsters was awe-inspiring, I feel that too much was crammed into this movie. Some monsters are only seen for a few brief seconds and then are gone. Another problem I felt was the editing of the film. There were just far too many cuts. This did not allow for a clear viewing of the film and comprehension of the subtitles before another explosive scene was presented. There was just too much going on in this film. Plus, the film's content wasn't always appropriate for some of the younger fans.
Overall, I did enjoy this movie, but not all of it. Hopefully Godzilla can be restored to his former glory in his well-earned rest.
In the battle of King Kong VS Godzilla, I think Kong won this time.