Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Red Eye Report's 2010 October Horrorthon #14: "Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit"

Another year, another G8 summit, and another chance for world leaders to pretend they're accomplishing something. Heads of state from the U.S., Russia, and elsewhere have gathered at Hokkaido's scenic Lake Toya to brainstorm ways they can save the environment. But the talks have barely begun before a greater threat arrives in the form of a towering monster from outer space. Focus instantly switches to taking down the massive beast, and while all the G8 attendees have their own plans of action, their attempts only egg on the creature's tour of destruction. Luckily, two plucky reporters (Kazuki Kato and Natsuki Kato) are on the case, and with the help of a backwoods cult, they might be able to summon the only force that can destroy this intruder from beyond for good.

Monster X Strikes Back is the second flick I've seen in as many years in which Japan pokes fun at its own kaiju conventions. The other was Big Man Japan, whose approach was very deadpan, so it falls upon Monster X Strikes Back to travel the road more goofy. But no matter how much sentiment was put into them, both features share a very inconsistent sense of humor and satire. It's Japan's answer to The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, as both are pleasant parodies of B-movies whose only gags consist of -- well -- being B-movies. It's affectionate, but it's just not that funny, something the Godzilla-style romps it's spoofing were while actually being honest-to-God entertaining. Monster X Strikes Back is structured like a joke that takes 98 minutes to tell, and at the end, the punchline is that you were told a joke.

But I should mention that kaiju disciples may be disappointed that this film is less monster mash and more political satire. In this respect, Monster X Strikes Back lands its share of zingers, most of which stem from how gleefully stereotypical it portrays the G8 bigwigs. Everyone's looking out for #1, everyone has their own agenda, and everyone has silly names like "Beefstroganoff Puttin" and "Maplesyrup Harris" that are never actually used in the flick but the credits supply regardless. The goofiness of it all is pretty amusing, but the film loses its effectiveness the more it goes for the easy laughs. Topical humor aside, the movie is still a mighty letdown in the monster department. The title titan (who's named Guilala and never referred to as Monster X -- you figure it out) sorta resembles Godzilla with his head stuck in a UFO, but other than catching stray missles and trampling the odd power plant, he's there chiefly to make the G8 crew look like a bunch of dumbasses.

Monster X Strikes Back isn't necessarily bad and might even provide giant monster fans more seasoned than I with a few nice chuckles. I dug the silly tone and shamelessly overt political jabs, but the misses just happened to outweigh the hits by too wide of a margin. Though Monster X Strikes Back is a harmless lark, honest laughs are as hard to come by as a Tokyo skyscraper that the Big G hasn't set aflame.

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