7/14/14

KING KONG ESCAPES - REVIEW


Not content with churning out tons of Godzilla movies, legendary Japanese studio Toho followed a King Kong vs. Godzilla crossover movie with a straight-up King Kong movie entitled King Kong Escapes which saw poor old Kong not only get kidnapped (again) but get hypnotized and eventually fight a robot version of himself.

The film opens with the baddie, amusingly named Dr. Who, setting his Mecha-Kong (or Mechani-Kong) loose in order to use him as part of some kind of bizarre mining operation where a rare element would be uncovered. Unfortunately, Mecha-Kong turns out to be useless and nowhere near as powerful as the real Kong. So, you've guessed it, Dr. Who goes to find the iconic beast and, with the help of some well-delivered ether bombs, Kong is soon put to sleep and taken back to Who's lair where he is hypnotized by a glowing lamp and sent out to do the job Mecha-Kong couldn't. As with every single plan Dr. Who's ever had in this movie, this all backfires and King Kong, you've guessed it, escapes.

Other characters present in the movie include submarine Commander Carl Nelson, played by an actually pretty good Rhodes Reason, his Lieutenant Susan Watson, played by an actually pretty awful Linda Miller, and Mie Hama's shady businesswoman Madame Piranha. Yes, I said Madame Piranha. It's a fun cast, though sometimes for the wrong reasons, but regardless they help make the film's duller parts (most of the second act, to be honest) much more entertaining. The fact that the best they could come up with in terms of King Kong plots boils down to little more than some, I guess, "evil" mining is certainly an odd move but, luckily, the film pauses every so often to offer us enough lols and rubber-suited fights to keep us interested. Kong battles a rubbish-looking dinosaur who is actually rather good at dropkicks, a sea snake and, of course, Mecha-Kong in the thrilling Pacific Rim-style climax.

When I say Pacific Rim I obviously mean something more akin to LEGO Pacific Rim, by the way.

Let's not go nuts.

Joking aside and silly Kong costume aside, the models in this movie are quite good and the set ups are definitely creative. All the tiny clearly not real helicopters and submarines moving around some of the scenes are simply adorable and add a camp quality to the whole thing. Even the dated, often flat-out crappy, bluescreen effects are enjoyable. All in all, as a King Kong film, this is basically a retread of the original's familiar plot but with an added dose of goofiness. Unfortunately, the movie moves at a slower pace by the time it gets to the halfway point so it's not always a riot but it soon picks up again ending things on a welcome high.

Fans of Toho's Godzilla films and fans of those types of monster movies should have a lot of fun with this one. It's rather random and it's overall uneven but it's a worthy piece of nonsense which should, at the very least, get a couple of chuckles out of you.

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