When you talk about this movie, the whole conversation necessarily comes down to two words: who won? When you have two major money-making monsters, you can't very well kill either one of them, of course, so you cannot definitively proclaim a victor in this epic battle. There is a slight difference between the American and Japanese versions of the film; while Kong clearly is seen swimming away, the Japanese version (so I read) features a roar from Godzilla at the end, clearly indicating he is not dead or defeated. Some argue that Kong is supposedly our "American" monster, so Americans are led to believe he won, while Japanese audiences are led to believe that their monster won. This is hogwash to me. There is no way King Kong could defeat Godzilla. The first time they meet, Kong quickly turns and runs, scratching his head. In the finale, Godzilla pretty much beats the tar out of him for several minutes, and Kong even stupidly conks himself head-first onto a big rock and knocks his own lights out. Kong's only offense is to throw rocks and to get his opponent into some type of bear hug. At the end, both monsters plummet into the water--Godzilla does not resurface (but of course he is aquatic), and Kong leaves. I like to believe that Kong is running away from Godzilla, but each viewer has to decide the true outcome on his own.
This movie gets a little weird. First off, forget earlier movies--no one has seen Godzilla, frozen in ice for millions of years, or King Kong before (even though the folks who discover Godzilla immediately identify him by name). Naturally, Godzilla heads directly for Japan. Some scientist has discovered the sleep-inducing powers of the red berries found only on a small island; a caricature of a man who runs a TV station and pharmaceutical company sends a Japanese Laurel and Hardy to find the monster-god of the island. Music and cigarettes win over the natives, but then a giant octopus shows up and threatens to destroy the berry juice that the natives use to supplicate Kong, only to be thrashed by the big ape, after which Kong slurps down a few barrels of juice and passes out like a drunk. He is dragged back toward Japan on a barge, but then escapes. He heads for Godzilla, runs away like a little girl when he first encounters him, then decides to content himself with stomping around on the Japanese mainland for a while. Inevitably, Kong's weakness for the ladies distracts him; he is drugged and then transported by giant balloons to Mt. Fuji to fight in the main event against Godzilla.
The special effects in this movie are sometimes good and sometimes awful. The King Kong costume is just horrible, I feel. Kong looks like Charles Manson after a long night of drinking. Godzilla walks around like a hockey goalie in full pads late in the film, but overall he looks pretty good. Don't ask why, but Godzilla dislikes electricity in this film; Kong, on the other hand, loves it and draws strength from it (a declaration made early on by scientists despite the total lack of anything resembling proof of the fact). The scenes featuring folks running around right in front of the monsters are amateurish--the people are blue and semi-opaque; scenes featuring the girl held in Kong's grasp feature a doll that looks little better than a corn cob with some black hair stuck on top of it. Some of the models used look exactly like models. When it comes to Godzilla movies, though, these things really don't matter to me; in fact, I would be disappointed if there were no ultra-cheap looking special effects. Oddly enough, the giant octopus that makes a cameo appearance seems pretty realistic. The most annoying feature in the film is the series of clips featuring Eric Carter on the United Nations television network. I'm not sure if these scenes are in the Japanese version, but they serve no good purpose in the film.
A lot of people praise the final battle between the monsters, but I frankly found it disappointing. As I mentioned, Kong doesn't bring a lot of offense to the fight, and you can almost hear Godzilla saying "Get up, you loser," when Kong knocks his own lights out. The bit where Kong stuffs a tree down Godzilla's throat is pretty funny, but he gets few points from me outside of that one move. Basically, what we need here is a rematch. Let's get a new incarnation of Godzilla and King Kong back together and put an end to the controversy over who won the first fight. I'll put my money on Godzilla.