Godzilla vs. Kong had a lot going on, but what I really liked were those brief shots of the giant fighting kaiju from the humans’ POV.
We’ve seen that in other Godzilla and Kong movies, sure, but here I felt like I was in a front-row seat of the coolest theme park ride ever made.
But not just that. Some of those close encounters with Kong really reminded me of Universal Studios’ old Kongfrontation ride.
“There he is! It’s Kooooong!”
I remember Kongfrontation like it was yesterday. The queue was set up like a New York subway station, with TVs hanging overhead showing breaking news of a giant ape wreaking havoc on the city. Then, you climbed aboard a tram and set off through the city streets, immediately running into the chaos.
Destruction everywhere, monstrous shadows in spotlights. But the highlight was when you finally came face to face with the giant animatronic Kong himself, and he sent you tumbling down, right to the exit.
Honestly, those early years were peak Universal Studios. I know things change and get updated, but seriously — Ghostbusters, King Kong, Jaws, Back to the Future, Alfred Hitchcock, Hannah Barbera. You replace that with, what? The Simpsons? Transformers?
The old rides, Kongfrontation especially, were a lot more like interactive theater. You were part of a show, and everything was more tangible. Look at what’s going on in Kongfrontation — you’ve got sets, explosions, special effects, actors, a giant King Kong that you could literally reach out and touch. And a storyline that stands alone from any particular movie (though I believe the ride was based on 1976’s King Kong).
For the few minutes you were on the ride, you were in a movie.
These days, a lot of the newer stuff, especially at Universal, relies on 3D screens. That’s fine, I guess. But I don’t know. Something’s missing. At least Skull Island: Reign of Kong still has a giant animatronic monkey somewhere in there.
- Here’s some higher-quality footage of the special effects at the original King Kong Encounter, part of the Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood.
- There are also quite a few recordings of the Kongfrontation ride on YouTube, and they’re all a bit different. Cringey acting and all. Here’s one with some better shots of the queue.
Kongfrontation closed permanently in 2002, with no official reason ever given, and was ultimately replaced in 2004 by Revenge of the Mummy. Which is all right, but it’s no Kong.
Anyway, were those POV shots in Godzilla vs. Kong inspired by Kongfrontation? I’d have to ask Adam Wingard, and I don’t exactly have a direct line to any Hollywood directors. But I wouldn’t doubt it!