Saturday, January 16, 2010

500th Post Special!!!: The Asylum's Monster

Anyone who has ever been to this site has to have at least picked up the fact that I am not a fan of The Asylum.  While I can applaud their ability to get low-budget movies out on a regular basis, what they turn out is usually terrible.  Occasionally, some of them are ridiculous enough to laugh at, but many of them ruin any good premise with bad writing and uneven pacing.  They even found a way to make parts of Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus boring, by giving away their best stuff early (the shark attacking the plane) and making most of it about talking heads instead of monsters.  Meanwhile, their came a film a while back that had a huge amount of hype to it, but failed to deliver quality: Cloverfield.  While I'm sure that many of you don't hate it as much as I do, the consensus is that the movie is a mostly-wasted opportunity.  You take a unique premise, but then make it into a monster movie which constantly cuts away from the monster.  It's like the fight choreography from Batman Begins, only done on purpose to save money!  Naturally, given the success of the film, their had to be a rip-off by The Asylum.  Here's what I thought: this will either be good (by mathematically combining two negatives) or utter shit.  Guess which one it was?  If you had not guessed, check out my review of...
The film begins by telling us everything that is going to happen.  Okay, not quite everything, but you get my drift.  A massive earthquake hit Tokyo in 2003 and killed thousands...but it wasn't an earthquake.  Given the giant tendrils on the DVD and Menu boxes, this teasing is a bit pointless, guys!  In its defense, Cloverfield did not begin with 'Holy shit!  Something really bad happens!'  The leads are two young women who are going to Tokyo to film a documentary about climate change.  First, we get some ponderous scenes of our two characters getting ready for their trip before we are treated to the most pretentious- and illogical- part of the whole thing: the title card that reads 'A Film by Sarah and Erin Lynch.'  This makes absolutely no sense in the context of the movie, but you'll see that for yourself later.  After a little bit more filler (mostly just to show the few bits filmed in Tokyo), an earthquake happens.  The girls are rushed down to a basement, at least we are told that.  They leave and they are just suddenly in one.  Apparently, they can travel like Jason in Friday the 13th, Part VIII.  Also, the place is poorly-lit and could just very well be the same room from before!  We get some weird talk about secrets before a random American guy shows up to help them.  Hurray!
After a random scene where the sister with the camera circles around her sister and the man, we get random running and a dramatic cut, followed by a fade to black.  Get used to that, it only happens sixty-five more times!  Off-camera, the man is killed, something.  Vagueness, thy name is Monster.  They wander around some more, followed by more wandering around.  This brings up one point that Cloverfield has over this movie: the cast.  That movie has several, varied characters, while this movie has two sisters.  Sure, the people in that movie suck, but at least the attention is spread out amongst them.  In addition, the Blair Witch comparisons are hard to ignore, especially given that these characters are mopey and, wait for it, lost.  You're in Tokyo- find a big building and go in there!  As if the movie could not get any worse, they wander into the woods...which are right next to the city, only for the creature to show up in one of its four flash-appearances in the movie.  I give Cloverfield crap for showing so little of the monster, but it has this movie beat by a mile!  It attacks near them- don't try to figure out how or why- which causes them to fall in a cave/crater.  Great- now you're in the dark!
As if it was not clear, this movie was made after the Cloverfield trailer was released so it could make the release date.  As such, they tried to guess a lot of the film or match footage.  Hence our heroes ending up in a dank, dark structure for a few minutes.  Of course, they get out and head back to the city...which they just fled from.  On the plus side, the older sister delivers this iconic line: 'That's not snakes- it's gas!!'  Back in the city, they wander into a sushi restaurant, which seems to have a basement kitchen.  The monster's tentacles actually shoot by in one shot, but nobody seems to react to it.  Hmm, maybe you should leave this place!  They leave after another attack- which is off-camera- and the old man dies, but not before he delivers more vague talk about a monster wanting revenge.  Does this ever get resolved?  Nope.  After running into numerous people- including a news crew- they make it to the U.S. Embassy, only to find it in rubble.  We get another 'there's no hope' speech, followed by the older sister talking about how they should not film this, even though it was all her idea in the first place!  Blah blah blah, they meet some more Japanese people, random explosions go off and the monster's tentacles appear in full-frame for about twenty seconds.  The movie abruptly ends and explains that the girls were never seen again.  Who gave them a directing credit then?!?  The End.
 This movie is utter, utter shit.  The direction is terrible, the plot is minimal and the pacing is horrendous.  The whole thing is built around people whining, the camera shaking and running around.  There really is not much more to it than that.  On top of that, the movie teases you on several occasions with the idea of explaining why the monster is there, what the monster is or how the hell this is happening?  They never do.  Instead, they are obsessed with finding every possible way to mess with the footage to make it look 'gritty.'  I should also note that the two leads are credited as cinematographers, which does explain a lot...if they aren't just lying again.  The movie is also rife with plot holes and stupidity.  If the monster is a squid, how is he attacking everywhere?  Is he underneath the city somehow?  I just checked Google Earth and Tokyo is way too far away for it to be attacking it.  This is not even taking into account the idea of a squid attacking out of the water and not for food!  As I said, the movie was made based on Cloverfield's trailer, which is why you get 100 instances of the monster roar- which comes out of the water?- and nearly no monster.  Plus, look at how well they guessed about the monster.  So close!  In summary, this movie is like Cloverfield, only without an exploding lady to help redeem it.  I can wait another 500 posts before I see anything like this again!
Next up, I delve into a group of Forgotten Sequels.  First on the agenda, a prequel to a film series that never explains anything.  This movie is designed to explain it, so, um, yea.  Stay tuned...


  1. While I remain a staunch defender of CLOVERFIELD, especially stacked up against much of the other big-budget Hollywood waste out there, I 100% agree with you about the Asylum and how bad -they- suck, vis-à-vis MEGA-TURD VS GIANT CRAPTOPUS. MONSTER sounds like a veritable crime against genre fans everywhere.

    Happy 500th Post, man!!

  2. I loved Cloverfield as well, but I will never, ever, ever give Asylum another chance unless they begin sponsoring the site and give me free shit. Even then, Ill given them the honest reviews they deserve. On a lighter note ::Sniff:: 500 posts!! It seems like just yesterday you were at 300, youre growing up so fast before out very eyes =D

    Way to rock the big 500, as J. about my awesomely accidental congrats when he hit the big 5-0

  3. Honestly, my hatred of 'Cloverfield' has waned with time. After watching this movie, it is clear that it could have been MUCH WORSE.

    I will say this: Cloverfield is much more of a movie experiment than a good movie to me. I get the idea, but just question some of the execution.