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James Brewster Thompson
A deliberately ridiculous piece of B-movie trash, therefore unmissable
Before Grindhouse was released and completely ignored by American audiences, Quentin Tarantino had talked of his plans to make a few more B-movie revisits with Robert Rodriguez and other directors, expanding the concept to all possible genres. It's sad that such a project will not materialize, because The Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit is definitely a movie QT would enjoy, and it director the kind of guy he would love to work with: an energetic, grown-up child who loves every single frame of the films he makes, no matter how much crap he has to take from the critics (which is why he's called "the Japanese Ed Wood"). Monster X, which was shown Out of Competition at the 2008 Venice Film Festival, is a quintessential B-movie: geeky, cheap and aware of its silliness. In plain English: a lot of fun.
The film acts as a sort of low-budget Godzilla reboot, with the big reptile replaced by an alien of sorts named Girara. The seemingly invincible creature awakes suddenly from a very long sleep, and starts destroying everything in sight. Too bad this happens at the exact same time as a G8 summit in Kyoto: given the disastrous situation, the participating nations (USA, Germany, France, Italy, etc) do their best to stop the monster, only to fail each time. Perhaps the key to sorting out this mess is hidden in a freaky temple in the woods, where people worship a being with a strange fascination for his, uh, private area.
The G8 subplot would indicate some sort of political intent behind the movie, but that's just a load of rubbish: any kind of satire requires subtlety, and when the French President tries to seduce a woman with the phrase "I'm the Eiffel Tower and I want to penetrate your Arch of Triumph!", you know that's the last thing you'll ever find in the blatantly trashy script (by the way, since when do Brits speak with an American accent?). The "plot" is just an excuse for two silly-looking freaks to beat the hell out of each other, in scenes that could have been shot by a toddler in anyone's back yard or in an average workshop. It's that shameless "bag of dirt" quality that makes Monster X a guilty pleasure like few others. It's a movie made by geeks for geeks, and by not aspiring to any higher artistic consideration it actually manages to bring back the eight-year old hidden inside all of us, much like Peter Jackson's aptly titled Bad Taste, while more "noble" attempts to achieve the same effect have a tendency to fall flat on their backs.
So yes, it's incredibly, incontrovertibly silly, cheap, whatever you want to call it. But it's also one of the most enjoyable "bad" movies that one can find. Plus, it has the additional treat of Japanese auteur Takeshi Kitano voicing the "good" monster: how much more can one ask for?
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