Mon Star (2002)

Own it!

review by Scott Hamilton and Chris Holland
See also:

Ultraman Gaia: The Battle in Hyperspace

Kraa! The Sea Monster

King Kong vs Godzilla

Mon Star

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Our rating: four LAVA® motion lamps.

"Halley's Comet comes but once
every 84 years... about the same
frequency with which I have sex."
Much to the chagrin of our parents and significant others, we watch a lot of crap. It's safe to say we'll watch just about anything that features robots, giant monsters, or beautiful women -- preferably in some combination. When Hollywood's supply of these runs dry, we turn to so-called "independent films," some of which should really be labeled "amateur films." Churned out by hundreds of fanboys armed with DV camcorders and G4 PowerBooks, these homages to Star Wars and Friday the 13th rarely amount to more than cinematic masturbation. As fond as we are of the digital revolution and its impact upon the average man's ability to make himself heard, one need only watch films like Dark Redemption to realize that no matter how slick the final product looks, the average man's idea of how to make a great movie is to ape one's betters, usually with drab results.

A scene from the rally of
Monsters Against Nuclear Power.
What a joy, then, to be introduced to Mon Star, an imaginative concoction of a movie from Orlando filmmaker Glenn Abbott. The story in this ten-minute film is as old as moviemaking: scientist makes monster, monster runs amok, monster destroys world. Fortunately for those of you yawning into your hands, Abbott breathes new life into the old formula with a clever sense of humor, some unique rubber suit design for the giant monster, and original musical numbers.

That's right, musical numbers. Rock n' roll musical numbers, to be precise, all of which guarantee that Mon Star is anything but a fanboy Godzilla knockoff. The singing scientist who opens the film might simply make you raise our eyebrows, but even jaded creature-feature-watching vets like us have to sit up and take notice when a ten-story tall ass-monster bellows out his pain to the stars in song.

"G.I. Joe is there!"
The monster design is . . . unique. The closest design we can think of to it is the aliens from the remake of Invaders from Mars. Rather than put a whole person in the suit, the head and arms of an actor portray the entire body of the monster. This strategy really only works so long as you don't actually have to work on a real physical set. The execution is somewhat haphazard, with the line between person and make-up glaringly obvious. We have to assume that was somewhat intentional, either to make the parody more obvious or because of budgetary constraints. The monster's overall effect is comical and heartening at once. We have long maintained that giant monster films are attractive in part because the viewer likes to imagine himself trashing a miniature city. To see that dream made real yet again, even with the help of digital effects, does good for a film fan's soul.

Because Broadway isn't ready
for singing kaiju yet, that's why.
This is not to say, however, that Mon Star is perfect. Made for $1200 and, according to Abbott, an awful lot of good will, Mon Star does have some seams that betray its budget origins. The scientist's song will probably not set the pop music world on fire, but it is catchy and serves the story. (Abbott composed the music himself.) Sometimes the blue screen effects used to create the illusion of Mon Star's size are imperfect and sometimes the editing could be slightly tighter (are the scientist's lips out of synch with that last song?), but our impression of Mon Star is one of a film made by a burgeoning and talented film professional, and an enthusiasm for the medium that simply cannot be denied.

Full disclosure: such was our enthusiasm for Mon Star that, when we discovered that it was not for sale, we offered to help the director make the DVD available to the public. You can buy the DVD through Stomp Tokyo by clicking here.

Review date: 04/15/2003

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