Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mike the Boss - Films of 2010 - Film the Nineteenth: Monster X Attacks the G8 Summit

Monster X Attacks the G8 Summit (2008) (dir: Minoru Kawasaki)

Where do I start with Monster X Attacks the G8 Summit? I mean, I am a huge fan of the Kaiju Eiga (Big Monster) genre of films. When I was growing up, we didn’t have cable television but my friends did and once every couple of months they would get Godzilla Week on the Fox channel subsidiary equivalent back then. This meant that after school they would show a different Godzilla movie every day for a week. I would try to convince my parents to let me stay over for supper during that week so I could watch the movies. This rarely worked, so my childhood memories are shot through with the first 30 minutes of many Godzilla films.

Later in life I had the opportunity to see the Godzilla films in full and still loved them. I’m even a bigger fan of Gamera, the giant, flying space turtle. In fact, I once skipped an exam at university because City TV was showing all of the old Gamera films, in chronological order, back-to-back (yes, I was a bad student). I’ve enjoyed the Daimajin series, Rodan, King Kong in its many different iterations, Gorgo, Gappa and even the original Monster X. I have a strong tolerance for the silly side of the Kaiju Eiga genre even though I prefer the pseudo-serious side it sometimes takes.

So, let us get back to Monster X Attacks the G8 Summit. This is a film that takes a 60’s giant monster (Guilala) and places him in a spoof of the old monster movies. Guilala is still treated with respect (as much as a giant space chicken can be respected) but the film gives us a cast of utterly idiotic humans who occupy far too much of the screen time. These humans represent the different leaders of the G-8 and each one is lampooned with the national stereotype that is appropriate. They each choose different techniques to try and stop the rampage of Monster X but each one fails. The failures are usually a result of the leader of the moment being a buffoon.

I suppose you could look at the film as an interesting portrayal of Japanese nationalist xenophobia or as a self-mocking parody of the Japanese love for Kaiju Eiga films of the past but I’m not sure either decision would be completely justified. My final decision was that I really didn’t like the film and that I was pretty disappointed in it. Even Takeshi Kitano doing the voice of the world-saving Take Monster didn’t really save it for me. It is a shame they didn’t try a little harder to make the film work. They could have made some astute political commentary given the cast of characters but instead they just went through the paces. I can only hope that hints of a new and proper U.S. Godzilla production will satisfy my Kaiju Eiga hunger. Maybe I’ll just have to watch Cloverfield again.

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