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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Review: GARUDA (2004)

My eleven-year-old son and I are still moving through the BIG LIST, watching and reviewing more than eighty films before Godzilla opens May 16.

Today's is Thailand's first kaiju effort, Garuda (2004).

My son, James, will go first:
Well, this one is never-ending because there are a lot of slow-mo replays, the cast couldn't shoot right, the main characters won't die, and monster won't kill them all.   
So, rating wise, i'll say 1.7 out of 5 Atomic Yawns of Boringness 
My turn:
This movie's runtime is ninety minutes.  It should have been much, much less. 
What takes up all that excess time?  Slow-motion shots.  Slow-mo shots of guys walking.  Slow-mo shots of dust blowing.  Various shots of guys with guns, standing around and trying to look cool.  Shots of guys with knives, cracking their necks, trying to look badass.  Shots of a woman holding her necklace over the edge of a building.  Lame Matrix-knockoff shots of guys fighting and of guys talking around a planning table.  And, most maddeningly of all, shots of guys aiming their guns at the titular monster and NOT SHOOTING. 
My son and I both, several times throughout the film, were shouting at the screen, "Shoot!"  At one point, my son put on his best Muldoon accent and quoted Jurassic Park: "Shoot her!" 
Being a Thai film, we get hints at a culture I've not seen in monster films yet.  In particular, thanks to the lead character's half-French/half-Thai heritage, we get a taste of the distrust that remains between the native Thai and their former invaders. 
Unfortunately, beyond some grunting and yelling about foreigners, we never get much deeper than that. 
There's also the tantalizing fruit dangled before us of science versus faith.  Since Garuda is an important national symbol and part of Buddhist and Hindu faiths, the research the lead character (Leena) wants to do seems blasphemous for a hot second. ... And then it's forgotten. 
Instead of depth, we get an obnoxiously shot quasi-military team who fancies themselves as cologne models (I'm guessing) and more than an hour's worth of pointless anger and yelling.  At one point, one of the military guys even blames the scientist for her research, as though she's the one to blame.  Moron, your people were the ones who came in packing heat and landmines. 
There's one American in the movie, Tim.  A paleontology assistant, he's an annoying character and an annoying actor.  Also, there's a cackling evil guy, not unlike the goofball in Gamera 3.  He's annoying, too, but he's not in it long. 
Oh, yeah.  The monster.  I almost forgot. 
He's OK.  It's CG and it looks cheap, but he's mean, smart and pretty effective.  I'll say this: rarely have I cheered for the monster to kill so many characters. 
Unfortunately, everything else about this movie annoys me. 
Garuda ... a fine example of (attempted) style over (unattempted) substance.  1 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's the trailer:

Next, finishing another franchise off with Gamera the Brave.

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