In his review of the upcoming MONSTERS VS. ALIENS, CHUD's Devin Faraci said that the film, "certainly made my mouth water for a legitimate American giant monster movie. And no, Cloverfield doesn't count. A giant monster movie where we can see the monster." While CLOVERFIELD was enormously successful at the box office - not to mention as a viral marketing campaign - most fans of the genre would grudgingly agree that the film fell far short of its potential. In part, the film failed because it gave audiences insinuated destruction, rather than the grand, sweeping scenes normally associated with those kinds of pictures. We never saw the creature in full glory. Closely associated with that failure is the fact that the creature itself was fairly ridiculous looking. While I have no problem with an alien life form actually looking alien, the CLOVERFIELD creature looked like a pissed-off paraplegic. A year earlier, Korea scored a hit with THE HOST. I don't consider the film to be a genre classic like so many others, but it definitely had its moments. I felt the film suffered from way too much family drama, and a stupid looking fish creature that was far too small to make that much trouble. And while the film was definitely more successful than any Korean film had the right to expect, it did not reach out beyond the borders of the rabid genre fan base. Before that, you need to go all the way back to 1998's disastrous GODZILLA to find a giant monster film of any merit. I count the film as a guilty pleasure - I own it, in fact. I don't think it's a very good movie, and I think it's even worse as a giant monster movie. The movie spends far too much time with Matthew Broderick's boring scientist, as well as that blond reporter bitch. It also fails in the creature department, giving us a Godzilla without any personality or terror. And let's not even mention the baby Godzillas running around JURASSIC PARK-style. As you can see, I'm a huge fan of giant monster movies. I used to stay up until three in the morning to watch Godzilla movies playing on local channel 11. I watched all of the fifties giant monster movies, thrilling to some of the greats like THE BLOB or 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH. Admittedly, most of the films of the era were not that great - YONGARY or FOOD OF THE GODS are beyond awful - but the best films touched on our innate understanding of our powerlessness in the universe, and also tapped into our childish innocence. While much has changed in the world in the last few decades, those qualities are still very much around in audiences. I agree with Devin that it would be great to see another well-done giant monster movie. I'm not sure how it might play in today's world given the post-9/11 feelings I touched on in an earlier post. But the success of 2007's TRANSFORMERS indicates that there is still a thirst for giant monster destruction. So if you're going to make a giant monster movie, how can it work? Well, I think you need to take it either in a totally bizarre direction, or you need a very effective and powerful creature (or set of creatures). I always thought Sony missed the boat with GODZILLA, because a second film could have taken that monster and pitted it against another creature for dominance over the world. I had imagined a giant spider-like creature with venomous fangs and web-spinners that could hatch thousands of offspring that might face off against Godzilla. A sequel script floating around Hollywood had Godzilla battling a flying dragon-like creature that sounded even wilder. For some reasons - possibly sanity - prevented the studio from marching ahead with that draft. I have always thought that it would be great to make a giant monster film in the vein of the insane monster classic DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, or, even better, the brilliant GODZILLA VERSUS MONSTER ZERO. Throw caution to the wind, I say, and have a balls-out giant monster film with weird alien schemers, ninja warriors, tiny pixie women, and anything else ever dreamed of by ten year old boys. It's never been done, but done right, would be a huge hit. How could you not have fun with that? Sometimes the world gets too literal and too mature. It's high time to kick this genre back into the mainstream again.
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Twitter: @rayderousse or @unfilteredlens1
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