We all know what it means when a new Blockbuster SF or Fantasy film hits the theaters:
It means that, before long, The Asylum will be running their version on the SyFy Network!
It’s called a “Mockbuster.” I really have no idea how many of The Asylum’s films aren’t mockbusters. Well, they did make all those Sharknado films. But when you’ve made that many sequels to a film, even the first one doesn’t seem quite as original as it once did.
Monster Island is, of course, their answer to Godzilla, King of the Monsters. And, as the most important part of any film featuring giant rubbery monsters is, in fact, those giant rubbery monsters, it’s actually not halfway bad. Who cares about silly plots, wooden acting, and tired dialogue when you have big monsters duking it out.
So we have the typical Kaiju Eiga type hero, an industrialist who finds the first creature and then spends the rest of the film fighting it. We have the only name brand actors around keeping themselves busy off on their own as a Navy “General” and his Aide, both of whom are definitely not wearing regulation haircuts. We have the usual environmental concerns, the usual failed attempt to kill the monster, and the usual expert who has been ridiculed for believing that the giant monsters are out there and will show up any day now.
The creatures? Well…
Obviously Toho does this sort of thing better, but the underwater shots of the first creature are actually quite good, as are the smaller winged critters that show up around the three-quarters mark. However, the second big creatures just isn’t all that distinctive and could have used a bit of color and a better design.
With a face, please, not just one big eye.
And the final winged creature is…well, I’m stumped. There must be some word for “so utterly beyond absurd that the word hardly applies any more.” But at least we don’t see it for very long.
However, we should note that even that second creature looks better than Toho’s Hedorah.
Not that that is saying much.
The “ride off into the sunset” in the end is a bit absurd as well. Obviously, they’re going to leave plenty of room for their hero to show up monster hunting in lots of other sequels. But let’s face it: when you know that some gigantic critter is capable of leveling entire underwater volcanoes and is in fact eating them for lunch, then why in the world are you going to suddenly develop moral qualms about mining these volcano sites despite the potentially fragile ecosystems surrounding them? Isn’t it far more likely that you’d say, oh, we’d better mine all these areas we can before the Kaiju eats them?
…After all, it’ll just devour all those unknown and previously unseen new species, and won’t even bother asking for a toothpick.
There is one thing, though, that this film does tell us: obviously, Toho Studios doesn’t hold the rights to the name “Monster Island,” which, you will recall, is where all the monsters used to hang out between films in the Seventies.
But I suppose they called it something else in Japanese.
At any rate, it isn’t classic, but it isn’t too painful either, and some of the Kaiju bits are reasonably well done, in a cheap CGI sort of way, of course. The Asylum can’t afford big rubber suits.
Oh, and watch for how the word “Kaiju” is pronounced. I spotted at least three different versions. One of them is so bad you have to wonder why the director didn’t tell the actress responsible “no, no, that’s not how you say that!”
But perhaps, on an Asylum budget, there just isn’t time for such niceties as getting things right…