Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Only slightly, slightly less than I hoped to

My enjoyment of the Host (simply called Monster in its native Korean) was a bit less than I had hoped but it was still a fun monster movie. More overtly than its Japanese ancestor Godzilla, the movie is also a commentary about modern Korean life and the tensions of the Korean-American relationship.

The monster itself works. An American official's thoughtless order leads to a mutated lamprey/frog beast growing in Seoul's Han river. The film company clearly spent money on this one as the monster looks great and is as realistic as one could hope. The first full shot of it is the best in the movie with a soundless lumbering approach that captured the slow, stunned reaction to the extraordinary.

The action centers on the reactions of a family reunited in sadness after the monster took the young daughter of one of the siblings. They are swept up by an incompetent government reaction that is PR rather than effectiveness driven. At certain points, it is made to appear that the US and the ROK government as well are using the opportunity to test all sorts of weapons and plans. As you might expect, it ends up being the main characters rather than the government which ends up resolving the issue.

The movie has Firefly-esque approach to the genre, which is to respect but also tweak it, and tweak it a bit more directly than you would see in Hot Fuzz for example. This may come off as ham handed, but it seemed appropriate to the anti-heroic approach to the movie.

My main complaint is that the movie is a bit too long at two hours. Much of the middle section could have been condensed to minor effect and even the climax was a bit overlong as well. Fans of the monster genre will be glad that it is possible for new ones to be made well.

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