The laughs are sparse and sporadic in Monster X: Attack the G8 Summit, which is allegedly a spoof of man-in-suit-monster or kaiju movies. I say “allegedly” because the spoofing is only skin-deep: scrape off the surface comedy and what you’re left with is a flick that follows the formula pretty rigidly without kidding it in ways that would produce real laughs.
It’s from the same man who gave us Rug Cop and Executive Koala, Minoru Kawasaki. Of the movies from him that I’ve seen so far, Koala stands up the best—it reveled in its absurdity from front to back and had as much fun breaking formulas as following them. Monster X is too straight for its own good, with most of the potshots being glancing blows. Part of the problem is that it is a sequel-of-sorts to an existing kaiju franchise—The X From Outer Space—but can't make up its mind if it’s being silly or sincere or just plain dumb.
The setup’s straight out of any rubber-creature movie ever made. While the G8 summit is being held in Japan, a mysterious creature emerges from a fallen meteor to terrorize the country and knock over a whole bunch of model buildings. The assembled world leaders all take cracks at dispatching the monster, but all of their valiant efforts come to naught. Only a reclusive village with a great secret (as discovered by a guy-and-girl pair of tabloid reporters) can save the day. The secret is revealed, and the day is duly saved, or dully saved, depending on your tolerance for this sort of material.
Most of the movie is meant to be a sub-Mad level sideswipe at the G8 leaders, and there are moments when the gags work. The French president’s a womanizer, winking at his translator and later wining and dining her. The American’s a gung-ho blowhard—although, amusingly enough, one of the few truly competent leaders in the batch. The Russian president has a plan to poison the monster with polonium. And so on. It’s all the sort of thing Saturday Night Live did better on nights when they weren’t even trying.
The few giggles that come from this material are squelched by the awkward delivery—everyone speaks their own native language—and sometimes even more awkward casting. (How about a British prime minister who sounds like a Princeton graduate?) I suspect a great many other locale-specific gags about the Japanese prime ministers are going to fly over American viewers’ heads, but I suspect they weren’t all that funny to begin with either. Oh, and one of the gang turns out to be Kim Jong-Il in disguise—which, I admit, leads to one of the best sequences in the film although it’s quickly plowed under by business as usual.
The biggest problem with the movie is that someone already went and beat them to it. Namely, Ryuhei Kitamura, whose Godzilla Final Wars is the absolute last word in how totally insane and over-the-top a film like this could get. It was homage, parody, and an official entry in its respective series, all at the same time. Monster X can barely figure out which one of those three it wants to be.
Consumer note: Takeshi Kitano receives billing as the monster’s antithesis, but the actor himself never actually shows up onscreen—it’s just his voice for another guy in a suit.
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