My Kaiju-thon Weekender! Day Two

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC My Kaiju-thon Weekender! Day One

By Last Caress.

KAIJU! (again)

It’s Day two of my Kaiju Marathon Weekender (check out Day One HERE), with four more monster movies ready to stomp their way into my front room. What’s That? Strictly Come Dancing‘s on? Yeah, right; you can poke that straight up your Pacific Rim. Mind you, Bruce Forsyth’s a Kaiju, isn’t he?

GODZILLA VS. BIOLLANTE

Kaiju



Giving radioactive nuclear waste a much-needed day off and instead looking at the folly of man playing God with biotechnology, Godzilla vs Biollante (Kazuki, 1989) sees Godzilla squaring up to a creature built by accident in a lab. So, what exactly is Biollante? Well, it’s a clutch of cells from Godzilla’s own body, spliced with… ready?… a haunted rose bush. That’s right everybody, Biollante is a bloody great rosebush, with a healthy dollop of Kaiju plus the soul of some scientist’s dead daughter thrown in for shits and giggles. But hey – don’t let that rather limp description dissuade you. Biollante is MASSIVE, maybe the biggest Kaiju in any Godzilla picture. And yes, it’s got a flowering rose for a head, but it’s also a writhing tangle of viney tentacles and teeth. Teeth everywhere. As it rises from the water, it looks like Cthulhu himself.

It’s not quite the same fun-ride as Godzilla’s more traditional throwdowns, but Biollante is a truly unique adversary and, just as uniquely, Godzilla vs. Biollante has more depth to it than any Godzilla pic since the 1954 original.

GAMERA 2: ATTACK OF LEGION

Kaiju

Following on directly from yesterday’s Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (Kaneko, 1995) comes Gamera 2: Attack of Legion (Kaneko, 1996), the second part of a self-contained trilogy for Gamera during the “Heisei” period (guess which Gamera movie I’ll be watching tomorrow). Keeping with the bio-monster plant vibe of Godzilla vs. Biollante, Gamera has to tackle some nefarious plant life too, but the plants here are not human engineering errors, they’re alien, altering the atmosphere and being nurtured all the way by a “Legion” of insect-like beasties, all of which of course are being spawned somewhere along the line by a queen. Ripleeeey! No… I mean: Gameraaaaa!

But is it any good? Well, let’s be clear: The Heisei Gamera trilogy is as good as anything the Kaiju genre has to offer. If you ever even smiled fondly at a Godzilla pic or a Kong movie, you owe it to yourself to give these three films a try. This incarnation of Gamera is every bit the equal of his more illustrious counterparts.

THE HOST

Kaiju

Following years of toxic waste dumping into the Han River and amid a frantic government cover-up to deflect public condemnation, a foul, vaguely amphibian creature announces his existence by hopping out of the Han and running amok through the cityfolk and daytrippers who had previously been enjoying the Seoul sun. Gobbling up civilians as it goes and, in a final flourish, swiping up the daughter of nice-but-dim riverside caterer Gang-du (the inimitable Song Kang-ho) for consumption back at its lair, so begins The Host (Bong, 2006), a wonderful monster movie from South Korea which is also a moving family drama, an indictment on the “freedom” of the free world and, often, a lively comedy. The creature – by far the smallest here at my Kaiju weekender – is one of the most impressive-looking of the lot but, as grotesquely magnificent as he is, The Host is stolen from under the monster’s nose (does he have a nose?) by Song Kang-ho, who is simultaneously heartbreaking, infuriating, daft and lovable.

KING KONG

Kaiju

Too long. Too mawkish. Hilariously overindulgent. Adds nothing to the tale already told over seventy years ago, save the bells and whistles of 21st century CGI and special effects (and even that lot pales in relative comparison to the stop-motion alchemy of 1933). Subplots which go f*cking nowhere. A mind-bending amount of screen time spent on the bloody boat to Skull Island, during which time the whole movie grinds to a halt and we, the audience, all lose the will to live.

Yes, all of that. But, dammit, if this tale of love ‘twixt a Vaudevillian chorus girl and a 25ft tall gorilla can overcome all of that, it truly is one of the greatest love stories ever told. And that’s exactly what Peter Jackson’s 2005 retelling of King Kong is. I mean, Kong always loved Ann Darrow but, in 1933, Fay Wray didn’t love him back. She couldn’t quite see past the monster. Naomi Watts’ Ann sees Kong, truly sees him. Maybe it’s because the Kong of 1933 is a monstrous creature, ape-like but not an ape, not anything we recognise, whereas Jackson’s Kong is a feasible evolution; a gorilla, plain and simple. A massive gorilla, but not incomprehensibly so. One of God’s creatures, not some toxic blasphemy coughed up out of the Earth’s crust. Ann Darrow relates, and so do we. When I watch Gamera, I think of Gamera, and cheer. Godzilla, ditto. When I watch Peter Jackson’s Kong share the awesome majesty of a sunset with his only friend… I think of me and my kitty-kat, peering out of the kitchen window together, watching the birdies flying over here, over there. Don’t fucking laugh, I’m all choked up here!

Anyway, it’s been eight-and-a-half hours of giant-sized smashy-smashy action, but that’s that for today. Four more tomorrow to wrap up my Kaiju Marathon Weekender.


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