I seem to be in the minority in terms of my complete and utter boredom with the onslaught of “superhero” movies Hollywood has been churning out in the last ten years. Spiderman 2 had some great scenes and not too bad a storyline, Hellboy 2 was awesome fantasy / action / comedy, and … well that’s it for me in positives. Especially boring is the trend of trying to make superhero movies “dark” and “realistic”. I can’t take a guy in a red suit jumping around on strings of silk as being anything more than comic fun – and, wisely, Sam Raimi made sure to include a lot of good-hearted humour in the Spiderman films to off-set the essentially ridiculous superhero premise. The same thing worked very well in the first three Superman movies. But, Hellboy aside, the sense of fun is being quickly lost. The makers of the recent Batman movies have over-estimated their source material and tried to make something more out of it than it is – it’s an idiot in a f***ing bat suit and a cape and I cannot take him seriously as he talks in his gruffest Clint Eastwood imitation voice with a pair of bat ears sticking out above his head. Please, please, please bring back the comic humour from the 60’s tv show. These are kids’ movies.
… And thus my wish was granted in foreign aid this week by Hitoshi Matsumoto and his 2007 film Big Man Japan. This insane movie tells the story of a socially inadequate loser who leads a superhero double life, growing to a height of around 100 feet to fight off Godzilla-sized creatures that occasionally attack Japanese cities. The special effects are poor compared to what we’ve come to expect from say the Hellboy series, but the film compensates with mind-boggling and surreal creature designs and the inevitable humour they generate. Balancing this are the ironically emotional mockumentary scenes presenting the lead character’s every day life as a nobody. The contrast is jarring and it works.
But underlying Big Man Japan is a more complex web of social and political messages. This becomes very apparent in the last ten minutes of the film, though I’ll reserve my detailed opinion on it for a possible film analysis video.