Wednesday, November 15, 2006

King Kong Escapes

KAIJU! Big monsters! Yes, due to a recent influx of giant monster movies into my collection, the next few reviews will deal with giant monster battles! This week's review is "King Kong Escapes", a 1967 film by the legendary Ishiro Honda. Many will recognize Honda as the man behind the original movie "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" and most of the movies in the Showa series of Godzilla (second place for director of most Showa series movies goes to Jun Fukuda, I believe).

Kwality movies.

Fans of Kaiju will note that Kong has been scaled back from his last movie where he battled Godzilla. This version of Kong is closer to his original size at 60 ft. in height. Kong had to get pumped up, probably with a bunch of monkey roids, to deal with Godzilla's immense 150ft. stature. Also at 60 ft. tall is the new MechaKong, the monkey version of Mechagodzilla, but with no lasers or missiles which makes him kind of lame by comparison.

For a Kaiju movie, this isn't so bad. If you're not a fan of Kaiju though, get ready for a bumpy ride over this rough plot. I won't ruin the whole thing for you, but here's a brief outline of what you can expect.

The evil Dr. Who, (no not the tardis Dr. Who, the other one) creates the MechaKong, so that he can mine Element X at the North pole. Apparently a horde of elves with jolly little shoes aren't manly enough to dig this incredibly radioactive material out of the ice, so the good doctor, played by the rotten toothed Eisei Amamoto, decided what he needed was a 60 ft. tall robotic monkey. Yeah, that's always how I do my mining on the North Pole. With a giant metal monkey... on ice.

Dr. Who and Madame X contemplate their glorious and prosperous future after this movie.

The doctor is not alone in his pursuit of Element X, as his "research" is funded by the mysterious Madame Piranha, or Madame X depending on what version you're watching. Madame X, played by Mie Hama, has two amazing powers that she uses throughout the movie. The first is the ability to turn Dr. Who into a snivelling pile of pseudo-scientific snot by threatening to cut his funding. The second is the ability to change her clothing after every freakin' scene in the movie. Madame X is rarely in the same costume twice when she's on screen. Apparently the mysterious country that Madame X represents gave her a budget that afforded her great clothing but she would have to buy surplus and defective parts for her giant monkey robot.

When the Mecha monkey fails because someone forgot to shield the circuits from electromagnetic waves, Madame X and Dr. Who hatch a plot to use the real Kong to dig up Element X. Unfortunately for Kong, he's recently encountered his only weakness: blondes. Kong has a run in with Lieutenant Susan Watson, a crew member on a U.N. submarine, along with her two flunkies Commander Carl Nelson and Lt. Commander Jiro Nomura. Once smitten, Kong pretty much does whatever Watson tells him to, making Watson the number one commodity in this movie.

Hey baby, you look like Kong bait to me!

If you're looking for a movie with a few great Kaiju battles, this one does have a couple. The Kong suit is noticably flawed, as the eyes and mouth have very little mobility when compared to some of the other monsters. Even MechaKong looks better by comparison, despite not having eyelids... or even eyes. Its really bad when the Gorosaurus suit, which looks like an old man version of Godzilla comes out looking better than your lead monster.

"I used to be an extra for Godzilla, but look at me now! I got my own role in a movie!" -Gorosaurus, 1967.

The models are all on par with the usual detail that Toho puts into its Kaiju movies. Every little tank and boat looks great, with all the painstaking detail that an anal-retentive Japanese model maker can muster. Most of the detail work usually gets destroyed in about 2 seconds, but Kong Escapes has an unusually low amount of property destruction, most of which occurs to the Tokyo Tower.

Kong's face isn't just frozen because this is a picture. This is pretty much his entire range of physical expression. Can't even open his mouth to complain.

If you've got some time to kill and love giant monsters, King Kong will satisfy all but the most rabid of Kaiju fans. Even if you don't like Kaiju monsters, the great plot and original characters...

Umm... Hmm...

Well anyway, King Kong escapes is a fun movie. Watching it is entertaining, even if its for all the wrong reasons.


fnord12 said...

I know this is a great movie and you probably just couldn't wait, but you're not supposed to have your King Kong marathon until Thanksgiving.

Spored_to_Death said...

King Kong marathon? Sorry, but its Go Go Godzilla time here! And one Rodan movie for flavor. Next week is Godzilla's Revenge!

Spored_to_Death said...

I recently upgraded the blogger page to a newer version. Hopefully the recent comments section will still function.