Caught a screening of King Kong vs. Godzilla at Metrograph. Unfortunately, it was the English language version, but the original Japanese cut is so poorly preserved that I couldn’t really afford to be picky. All things considered, though, the unnecessary additional footage (inserted by producer John Beck) and lackluster dubbing barely put a dent in the sheer charm that director Ishiro Honda brings to this titanic crossover. This is closer in tone to Mothra than Gojira, pure fantasy rather than bleak allegory, which is for the best—can you imagine how unwatchable a movie about two guys in rubber suits beating the crap out of each other would be if it took itself too seriously? The fact that it embraces its more absurd narrative elements (particularly the revelation that Kong draws strength from electricity, which even the script admits is utter nonsense) makes suspending one’s disbelief significantly easier. And yeah, Eiji Tsuburaya’s visual effects haven’t exactly aged gracefully, but there’s still something undeniably magical about all of those meticulously-detailed models and miniatures.
[Originally written April 29, 2018.]