Pack up your bazooka and giant sword, we’re off to hunt some monsters!
While I have a really guilty itch to see the latest trashy action flick from Paul W.S. Anderson and Mila Jovovich, I have no similar itch to catch captain trips at a theater for such a silly looking movie. So, until it hits the bargain bin at Red Box, I thought I’d summon up three other titles sate the monster hunting hunger.
See It Instead: Monster Hunter (2020)
Behind our world, there is another — a world of dangerous and powerful monsters that rule their domain with deadly ferocity. In a desperate battle for survival against enormous enemies with incredible powers and unstoppable, terrifying attacks, Lt. Artemis (Mila Jovovich) teams up with a mysterious hunter (Tony Jaa) who has found a way to fight back.
I have a soft spot for the very weird dynamic of Jovovich and Anderson. Their run of video game adaptations varies from laughably bad to so bad their kinda good. At least they always serve up a spectacle (and just way too many shots of Mila in her birthday suit.) I’ll give this a roll when it comes to the rental market…which given how bad things are at movie theaters should be in about all of ten days.
The Serious Pick: I Kill Giants (2017)
A teenager must face her worst fears in increasingly dangerous ways when horrible giants threaten to destroy her small town.
This quirky movie based on a graphic novel succeeds where similarly themed A Monster Calls failed. First, the CG is surprisingly good. Second, it actually generates a ton of tension: director Anders Walter plays with “is she crazy or are giants real?” effectively, and shoots some deliciously thrilling horror sequences. Lastly, the cast is phenomenal. I expected Zoe Saldana to be the center, but new-comer Madison Wolfe knocks it out of the park in the lead roll. All in all, an unexpected delight.
The Lighthearted Pick: Stargate (1994)
An interstellar teleportation device, found in Egypt, leads to a planet with humans resembling ancient Egyptians who worship the despotic god Ra. To return to Earth, a scientist (James Spader) and soldier (Kurt Russell) must lead a revolt against the tyrant’s rule.
Stargate is the action sci-fi movie that launched a thousand TV series. While a touch dated, it remains a blast to re-watch. Kurt Russell is a total bad-ass, James Spader really helps charm you into going along with the kooky “science” fiction, and the villain (Jaye Davidson) really sinks his teeth into the role. Top it all off with extravagant sets, great music, and tons of action, and Stargate completely earns its cult classic status.
The Unconventional Pick: Giant God Warrior Appears in Tokyo (2012)
A young woman receives an ominous warning from something that appears to be her brother. It tells her that disaster will strike Tokyo in one day’s time…
This short film is a doozy. I vaguely remembered the plot to some Studio Ghibli movie being about an alternate world where monsters roamed…and it turned out that basically described 90% of their output. So I picked out one I hadn’t seen before, based on the cool monster design. Fortuitous choice.
GGWAT tells a surreal story. The first half of the short is all dialogue as the young woman narrates her strange encounter. The film uses live shots of Tokyo and current culture. It’s an unsettling ghost story…which suddenly takes a hard right turn into giant monster glory!
Director Shinji Higuchi adopts threads from Hayao Miyazaki’s first hit, Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind. In that film, there is a brief story of how giant bio-weapons were the last creation of the golden age before it extinguished itself in fire. Here, we get see that conflagration kicking off.
It’s a deft adaptation and a love letter to the fans. The practical effects are on par with the best model work of the Kaiju movie genre, and the terrifying look of the God Warrior would make Shin Godzilla run for the hills! It’s just ten minutes, but it pays to watch it multiple times to soak in the different elements and artistry. Check it out here (with English Subs.)