What to do with the dead Kaiju? (2022) Eye for Film Film Review

What to do with the dead Kaiju?
“The problem is that all of this was done on a very low budget and the special effects that director Satoshi Miki was able to put together are not up to his ambitions.” | Photo: Courtesy of Fantasia International Film Festival

When the movie starts, the action is over. The kaiju that threatened Tokyo is dead, collapsed in a river in the middle of the countryside. News channels carry the stories of everyday people who are relieved that life can go back to normal now. But the real problem has only just begun.

What exactly is the next step when the corpse of a gigantic alien monster is slowly decomposing in a waterway outside a major city? Who is responsible for processing the file? Is it a local or national problem? Where, exactly, should funding for elimination come from?

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It’s a fantastic concept, and a number of viewers may have wondered over the years. Politicians have often been a feature on the periphery of kaiju films, struggling to make the right decisions in the face of issues too big or too devastating to easily comprehend, and here they are brought to the fore as they fight to try to pass the buck or, in one case, exploit the monster. It’s dead now so it’s safe, right? Couldn’t this make Japan a lot of money as a tourist attraction?

As politicians bicker, with a minister going so far as to climb on top of the dead kaiju to pose for the cameras, scientists, mindful that each large biological organism harbors millions of others, discover disturbing things. Will anyone listen to what he has to say? Will they do it before it’s too late?

Described by some as Japan’s Don’t Look Up, Satoshi Miki’s spiky satire, which was screened as part of the 2022 Fantasia International Film Festival, appears to be a closer parallel to the Fukushima disaster than the handling of the climate change, but comes to similar conclusions. A more upbeat final act brings heroes and hope like one might find in an old kaiju movie, and there’s a similar helping of goofy, chaste romance, family loyalty, and maverick heroism in the face of a moral conflict, but under the shadow of one of this year’s other major offerings, the overarching message is still that humans will struggle to save themselves from entirely foreseeable trouble.

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The trouble is that it was all done on a very shoestring budget and the special effects that director Satoshi Miki was able to put in place weren’t up to his ambitions, to the point that some things would have seemed more impressive if not shown directly at all. There’s also a problem with the random nature of the comedy, the sharper points of which are dulled by padding. There’s a lack of depth in the characters that makes them look like thin caricatures and makes it harder to take them seriously – which, for the satire to bite, you really have to.

Ultimately failing to deliver on the promise of its premise, What To Do With The Dead Kaiju disintegrates itself from the start. It will leave you craving a remake.

Reviewed on: August 06, 2022

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