Saturday, August 15, 2009

Jay's Review: Big Man Japan

Here's another review I wrote for, so check it out!

Big Man Japan

Official Synopsis:

BIG MAN JAPAN is an outrageous portrayal of an original superhero. As Big Man Japan, Daisato inherited the role of defending Japan against a host of bizarre monsters. He receives high-voltage electroshocks which transform him into a stocky, stick-wielding giant several stories high. However, where his predecessors were revered as national heroes, he is an outcast among the citizens he protects.

Our Take:

Big Man Japan” is one of those films that is probably best seen cold, ignorant of what will develop as the story goes along (so reviews may not help here). The reason I say this is that the story unfolds with a marvelous invention/ It opens like a rather dull documentary following a man who's not only pathetic but not that deluded about that fact. He's in a rut. The average man on the street doesn't like him. You learn he has an unusual job and an estranged family in little, honest bits and pieces... then the special effects show up and “Big Man Japan” makes a big turn off the beaten path.

It also would help you to have had a childhood like I did with lots of Saturday reruns on USA of the whole Godzilla movie cycle. (Any experience with “Ultraman” or even the “Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers” will give you extra credit.) Breaking up the long documentary sections are quick, satirical, CGI versions of old “Men in Rubber Suits on City sets” Japanese Monster movies. They've certainly got wit. “The Strangling Monster” has a comb-over and stretches like he's got Sansabelt arms. “The Evil Stare Monster” has a body like a hairy chicken, spindly arms, and a long, retractable penis stalk that ends in a giant eye.

Just let that one sink in for a while. Especially as he's followed by a “Stink Monster” who discretely flashes a dangling breast and then... presents... a little later on.

Hitosi Matumoto directs and stars as Daisato, the superhero known as “Big Man Japan VI.” While the storytelling hops between quick, funny (tho mean-spirited) CGI fight and long dissections of a rather washed-up man trying to keep his head held high as he plods through his unusual life, Matumoto isn't afraid to let little moments shine. A visit to a grandfather who casts a big shadow resonates with anyone who's seen dementia develop with a family member. The “He said, She said” pair of “interviews” about his marriage subtly and accurately show how there can be two different perceptions of a relationship broken off by only one party. The end veers wildly off track tone-wise and I guess it's an affectionate homage to those “Man in Rubber Suit” films. I'm not experienced enough with that strain of Japanese film history to tell for sure. It certainly feels and looks accurate to me, though I never recovered from the jokey, jarring shift.

Special Features:

The animated menu offers Scene Selection, Special Features, and Set-Up.

Set-Up offers Japanese audio in both 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby, subtitles in English and Spanish.

Special Features offers 16 deleted scenes and a 68 minute documentary “Making of Big Man Japan,” either with or without Director's commentary (also in Japanese). The feature with the commentary on is essentially double-subtitled but fairly easy to follow. The doc itself is something of a leisurely fly-on-the-wall chronology of the production. I found it pleasant but it's a feature you watch if you buy it, not if you rent it...

The trailers are for the 6-Shooter Film Series:

-”Let The Right One In” - Last year's icky adolescent vampire hit.

-”Special” - Michael Rappaport takes a drug that has him either developing or hallucinating super-powers. How this allows him to better stalk Lili Taylor isn't really made clear.

-”TimeCrimes” -the Spanish Time-travel thriller that my friends are praising but I haven't seen yet. The trailer only had me mildly intrigued while word of mouth has it a must see. That's a bad trailer in my book.

-”Eden Log” -a French Sci-Fi flick with some interesting imagery that sold me on checking the film out. There seem to be underground criminals and nasty tree roots?

-”Donkey Punch” -Chavs ruin boating and Majorca vacations for me forever in a sex and death thriller in the “Dead Calm” vein. Worth checking out...

-”Big Man Japan” - Hey, it's our main feature! ”Big is Beautiful”

The packaging is a simple case. This film is rated PG-13 and runs 108 minutes long.


This one starts out proving that boring documentaries (or, rather, mockumentaries) that study the minutia of our lives are really a universal language. Then it whips out giant monsters who sling eyeball-studded penises and an ending right out of “Godzilla v. Everybody.” I can't recommend it for the kids because these monsters aren't kid friendly... and teens will probably get bored by the long stretches of painfully real underachievement. Adults with a taste for culty cinema who're willing to enjoy a nice, humorous satire with bite will find a lot to enjoy here.

Overall Picture:

Movie: B

Extras: B-

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