|Index||7 reviews in total|
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?
Today I had the good fortune to catch the new "Monster X" flick on the
big screen here in NYC. Although there could have been some more
monster action, it definitely was not a disappointment.
The original "X From Outer Space" from 1967 starred newcomer Guilala, a monster who looked so ridiculous, that there was no way they could have made this sequel anything but a comedy. At least I think it's a sequel - while the title indicates Guilala does indeed "strike back" after being beaten 42 years ago in the first movie, there is a scene here with a kid (who looks like he walked out of a 60's Gamera movie) who names the creature "Guilala," as if he was never named or seen before.
As for the movie being a comedy, believe it or not, it's actually a decent comedy. Eight world leaders meet in japan for a summit, and take turns offering (failing) suggestions on how to kill Guilala. But the jokes aren't random - there's actually a lot of clever writing here. This isn't a movie full of dumb jokes.
There's also two reporters (including a hot girl) try to uncover the secret of Guilala through an odd jungle cult, who do a strange dance to worship a god named Take-Majin, who they later convince through their dancing and chanting to fight Guilala.
My main gripe is that there really isn't much destruction by Guilala. Actually, his best scenes come right at the beginning of the film, just minutes in - he lands on Earth, destroys some buildings and walks off. We then see Guilala fend off the occasional attempt to kill him, and of course his fight with Take-Majin, but the destruction ends right at the start.
The special effects are pure 1960's retro, from the buildings to the fire that Guilala spews out of his mouth, to the cheap-looking costume. This was all obviously done on purpose to pay homage to the charm of the original film.
Funny monster, pretty girls everywhere, and clever writing make "Monster X" a good bet for giant monster fans. And before the film, we had a 17-minute original giant monster comedy called "Gehara - The Long Haired Giant Monster" and a great preview of the new "Kappa" (Gappa) film coming out, and it won't be a comedy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm one of those who saw "The X From Ouer Space" often on TV's Saturday
matinée movie back in the 70's. I loved it then, and was eager to see
if Guilala could still deliver the goods to my less imaginative, more
cynical adult self.
Yes and no. This movie is played as a comedy (what else COULD they do with the giant chicken/lizard with a kitchen sink on top of its head). The comedy reminds me of "Saturday Night Live".. some clever political satire mixed in with infantile humor (try imagining Will Ferrell is playing Take-Majin, he's a perfect fit). There's even silly drug humor when Guilala gets stoned. The comedy isn't uproariously funny at any point, and does dip into absurdity a few times, but it generally works.
The movies special effects seem intentionally cheap, capturing perfectly the old school look and feel of the giant monster movies. sadly most of the monster action takes place in the first minute of Guilalas arrival. I was really looking forward to watching my old sentimental favorite monster get to fight another monster. The fight between Guilala and Take-Majin was the biggest disappointment for me. As i said earlier, it was like watching Will Ferrell in a gold leotard running around having nuclear missiles shot up his back end and exploding in his colon. If I'm drunk enough, its priceless comedy.
As you can likely guess, poor old monster X/Guilala gets his in the end once more, and he really doesn't put up much of a fight. But I loved seeing him again (I know, why?? I guess you need to have seen the first movie when you were 8 years old to understand). There were some things I really wanted to see that I was denied: 1- Guilala never used that silly looking crab claw on the tip of his tail in either movie. I want to see that weapon deployed! 2- He also never used the odd faucet device on top of his head. I long ago figured it was his "energy sensing tube" so I'll stick with that theory.
3- I'd hoped they were going to dig up some original cast members. the human story in the original was the funniest one in any of the old giant monster flicks.
Overall, if you liked the original, you already know you must see this one and will love seeing Guilala back in action. If you didn't like or haven't seen "The X From Outer Space", you will likely find a few chuckles out of this one, but little else. 7 stars the former viewer, 5 for the latter.
The monster Guilala was originally a monster made by now defunct
Shochiku studio in 1967. This movie is somewhat of a remake, but the
story is a camp satire of G8 summit and head of the states of the
world, a giant monster, Kim Jon il and Korean nuclear missile, and can
you believe - a Japanese comedian named Beat Takeshi who appears as
Monster Guilala lands near lake Toya in Hokkaido attached to Chinese space probe called Beta (which is the same design as the space ship Beta that appeared in the original 1967 movie). There was a G8 summit going on at lake Toya, and US president immediately after hearing the arrival of the monster vows to destroy the monster as an attempt to raise popular support. He recruits the efforts of other heads of the state to defeat the monster. Earth Defense Force (TDF) of Japan takes on the duty of actually carrying out the orders. The joke of TDF is is that it's comprised of only one tent and about a dozen men working around it. The commander is played by Susumu Kurobe who was a member of Earth Defense Force in the original Toho's Ultraman series back in 1966. Meanwhile in a near by village, there's a shrine that for some reason houses three objects. An ancient scroll depicting Guilala and another figure called Takemajin, a statue of Guilala,and the statue of Takemajin. Villagers gather at the shrine and chant "Nechikoma, Nechikoma" repeatedly, and Takemajin comes to life. Now its a showdown between Guilala and the Takemajin.
The intent of people who made this movie is not clear. While I was watching this movie, I was thinking this is a story I would have come up with. It was that bad. But obviously being camp was the intention of the producers.Special effect is homage to that of '60s kaijyu movie. They must have done this to appeal to the original viewers of 1967 version of Guilala.
Interesting and funny movie to come from Japan that parodies the original Guilala, politicians, and the Japanese culture.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Send up/spoof of the Giant Monster movies of the 1960's is married to a political satire about the G8. A reporter and photographer are covering the G8 when Monster X (using what appears to be new footage and old footage from the dreadful 1960's film called monster X) comes from the sky and begins to attack Japan. the world leaders decide that instead of fleeing that they will stay and fight. 10 minute sketch stretched to almost 100 minutes is a film sunk by obvious jokes, poor performances (anyone speaking English is beyond bad) and a sense of dullness. I didn't like this at all, partly because it pales when compared to a film like Big Man Japan but mostly because its not very good...any good. This is one of those times when I'm glad I didn't pay 12 bucks to see a movie in a theater.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Seen at the Vienna International Film Festival in October 2009. -
During a G8 summit Japan is attacked by a Godzilla-like monster from
out of space and all the attendant heads of state decide to stay and
help kill the monster, pretty much because they want to prove to the
US-president that they aren't pussies. Utterly uncinematic, beyond
silly and often boring. One element that reflects this is that although
the heads of state are all named after the real people they bear close
to no resemblance to them, neither visually nor otherwise, and instead
are just amateurishly acted, cheap stereotyped representatives of their
One by one they come up with methods to kill the monster, resulting in one failure after another. It's like Coyote and Road Runner with a more powerful but also more incompetent Coyote; when the monster is down and defenseless, instead of covering it in bombs they wait until it recovers again to move on to the next plan. In the other plot line we have a female journalist who finds a small town near the G8 summit where the people "pray" to their monster god which will eventually defeat "Godzilla" in a fistfight. Overall the film dedicates about ten minutes to showing the forcefully silly dance of those people (their "praying"), which serves to materialize their god and save the world. Useless to say the film didn't have a single actual character. Everyone was just there to spout whatever unoriginal line the filmmakers could come up with and to finally SOMEHOW arrive with the plot at the inevitable conclusion.
I found it to be bad and an unpleasant experience. The film got laughs from the audience, especially in the first five minutes, and continued to get laughs throughout, often with big gaps in between and never any big laughs. I assume much of it was the forced kind (many of them were drinking beer there, which needs to be considered as well). As for me I had a little laugh about every ten minutes. (There is the occasional apt and unexpected stereotype joke.) It wasn't all bad, it could have made an OK 20-minute film. The monster scenes with its destruction of the city are old-school Godzilla fare. In fact it's so old school and unoriginal that they might as well could have used footage from old Godzilla movies. Except that most of the time the monster just stands around acting exactly like Joe Cocker (no kidding). Such a thing can't be funny for long. Not for me anyway.
But I'll be the first to admit that usually I don't much like B-movie comedies as they often turn out overly shallow and silly, so if you know you like that kind of thing don't let this user comment stop you.
From time to time i like to immerse on films like this. Those are the
moments in which one enters a film for pure relaxation. I guess it's
the same kind of spirit such filmmakers as Kawasaki put into creating
Some of these rides are actually very profitable, and i think it is a mistake to excuse every unconsidered element of a film just because it is a B-flick or because the budget was close to zero. Some great, intelligent work has been that over that.
Here we have a film made out of two elements: the will to freely play with known faces of the political scene these days, and the will to produce special effects that deliberately looking false and old-fashioned. I think this crew must have had a lot of fun making this, and in certain moments i too enjoyed being there. But it is the kind of fun a group of adolescents has making fun of an unlikable teacher or painting obscene messages on a wall. I'm OK with that, but something better could be put into this. It was nice to be watching a Power Rangers kind of fight so many years later, but 'nice' is not good.
You know what this is now. It's your choice to embrace it or not. I did it with some interest, but i won't do it again.
The pace is slow, cinematic rhythm was not also in the mind of these folks.
My opinion: 1/5
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