King Kong vs. Godzilla ★½

Part 3 of There Goes Tokyo! Go Go ゴジラ

letterboxd.com/mrbowers/list/there-goes-tokyo-go-go/

I should state right off the bat that, whatever the inherent quality and charm of this film, the heavily edited and badly dubbed Americanized version is incredibly distracting. The original Japanese version, unfortunately, is not available in the United States due to licensing issues. I could import the Japanese Blu-ray, which I could play on my region-free drive, but it is unfortunately lacking any English subtitles (and I don't speak Japanese). A torrent of the Japanese version with a fan-made subtitle translation might be possible to find, but for now, I'm stuck with the Americanized version, which cuts in scenes of a reporter from the United Nations explaining events, and an American scientist patronizingly explaining Godzilla to the Japanese.

Even beyond the intrusive elements of the American production (which include a terrible dub with some Americans doing some pretty racist Japanese "accents"), this movie feels like a bit of a mess. The creators did not repeat their mistake of Godzilla Raids Again, where the kaiju battle takes place halfway through the film, and the rest of the movie feels like a let down. Here, at least, the eponymous battle is the climactic one. But we get there through a series of coincidences and misadventures that feel silly even for a movie with two dudes in rubber suits charging at one another. Even within the internal logic of the "Godzillaverse" the movie doesn't make a ton of sense (why do the high-tension wires stop this Godzilla when the Godzilla of the first film simply melted them with his breath? Why does Godzilla's fire breath also fail him during the final confrontation with King Kong?), and the human characters are becoming less and less interesting with each subsequent film in this franchise (and we're only 3 movies in!). The fight scenes are fun, of course -- King Kong trying to shove a tree down Godzilla's throat is a highlight -- but the movie that's built around them isn't interesting or even structurally sound enough to really hold up.

Oh, and there's blackface.

(if I manage to get ahold of the original Japanese version, I will update this review -- and possibly my starred rating)