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Monsterz - Movie Poster
Original Title:

Japan 2014

Fantasy, Crime

Hideo Nakata

Tatsuya Fujiwara
Takayuki Yamada
Satomi Ishihara
Motoki Ochiai
Yutaka Matsushige
Tomorowo Taguchi
Mina Fujii
Tae Kimura

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Monsterz - Film Screenshot 1

Story: A nameless man (Tatsuya Fujiwara) lives withdrawn from other people and only takes care of the most necessary things by forcing his will upon others. He has the extraordinary gift of controlling other people. As a child his father called him a monster because of this and abused him. After he killed him and his mother threw him out he started living in his own world in which everyone does his bidding. However, one day he runs into Shuichi Tanaka (Takayuki Yamada) by chance, who he can't control for some reason. Such a person isn't allowed to live in his world and so he does everything in his power to take him out. It turns out, tough, that Shuichi isn't just immune to the powers of the nameless man, but that he also has extraordinary healing abilities. His whole life Shuichi has avoided the responsibility that goes hand in hand with it, but now he seems to have a new meaning in life. Since he is the only one who can fight the nameless man he tries to find out his whereabouts. The following countless confrontations between the two mutants also call the attention of the police. Moreover, the nameless man uses Shuichi's own friends to take action against him...

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Monsterz - Film Screenshot 4

Review: It's not just Hollywood that takes Asian movies and runs them through the remake machinery. This procedure is also common practice in Asia. Thus, "Monsterz" is actually a remake of the Korean movie "Haunters". Since the original didn't resonate with me at all, I was looking forward to seeing what a director like Hideo Nakata ("Ring", "Dark Water") could to with the source material. In fact, the end product proves to be superior to the original. This is because of a nice atmosphere, something the director just knows how to create, as well as a few creepy moments, in which even whole crowds of people act against their will. Furthermore, the protagonists are drawn better and seem easier accessable, along with different weaknesses and a past resp. traumata that have formed their present personality. Yet, there is still a lack of real structure in the movie.

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First off, the actors deserve some praise. Tatsuya Fujiwara ("Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends", "Death Note") is simply the right choice for the villain since only he is capable of diverting into anime style acting without becoming completely noncredible. A pretty important skill if most of the time you are just staring at other people in order to control them. Apart from that it's also interesting that the villain's human side is explored as well. The nameless villain has been excluded from society and his loneliness as well as his exceptional skills have made him search desperately for a place in that very society or the meaning of life. After all, what is someone with the power he wields supposed to do? Nevertheless, this aspect is only roughly touched upon, which means that the movie clearly didn't even remotely tap its full potential.

Monsterz - Film Screenshot 6

Moreover, there is so much more the villain could have done with his ability. Furthermore, it's not easy to grasp why the countless crimes he commits aren't constantly in the media. It even gets worse. After whole crowds of people find themselves on the ground, they pick themselves up - the mind control by the nameless man has stopped - and don't care about collectively having just experienced an obviously extremely unsettling case of losing time. Even an apparently dead guy is being ignored by them. How exactly can you explain this? This kind of plot holes are simply a great source of irritation in the film and make the screenplay look random and haphazard. The original had the same problem, at least "Monsterz" has a little bit more structure.

Monsterz - Film Screenshot 7

Contrary to "Haunters" there is a consistently serious tone that surely suits the movie better. At times, scenes look outright creepy, e.g. when countless people, resembling zombies, grasp for Shuichi or when they without a will of their own jump down a balcony by the dozen. But it's also those scenes that show the cold-bloodedness of the villain and therefore stand as a contradicting extreme to the director's goal to underline the drama surrounding the character. It's just hard to have sympathy for a mass murderer. Takayuki Yamada ("The Devil's Path", "M.W.") can in fact deliver as a guy to relate to and he also is equipped with his own background story. It just would have been nicer, had we got a bit more character elaboration. Still, when compared to the original there isn't much to critize in this respect.

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In the end, "Monsterz", too, would have deserved a bit more of a clear structure. The two opponents constantly clash without really being motivated by the development of the story. The fact that neither of the two takes out his opponent for good despite numerous opportunities is also quite odd. As is the case with many of the plot holes that make the film take place in its own little universe, detached from our reality. Almost as if the two mutants had irrevocably secluded themselves from society. Despite refering to "X-Men" that people aren't ready to be replaced by mutants, yet, the movie doesn't feel like a superhero flick. There also wouldn't have been the budget to deliver in that respect. The at times dark tone convinces, but the obvious drama, which is supposed to bring some more substance into the movie towards the end while also giving the characters more facets, is implemented sloppily. Contrary to "Haunters" you will in fact get a few hours of mild entertainment with "Monsterz", though.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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