Big Man Japan Goofs on Monster Movie with Low-Comic Grotesques
Hitoshi Matsumoto, one-half a legendary Japanese comic duo, debuts as big-screen director/star with this goof on the rubber monster movie line, especial debt owed to Ultraman. Dai Sato (Matsumoto) is heir to a family of Big Men, homeland protectors who, under high-voltage electroshock, grow to apartment-block size and wrangle on television whatever rampaging cheapo CGI is threatening the peace. In Sato's era—underpaid, ratings in the basement, geishas gone—this means dog-catching low-comic grotesques: a Cyclops with an eye dangling from its crotch, or publicly copulating behemoths. Life at normal size only adds to the indignity. Sato's a distracted burnout with time-warp sartorial sense, intent only on stroking his hair out of his eyes. His wife has left him, taking his daughter and any prospect of a successor. His transformation ceremony takes place in a storeroom. His agent sells ad space on his torso. Sans secret identity, he takes the PR hits (and obscene graffiti) when Big Man slips up—the best bit involves mishandling an infant monster and resulting mawkish vigils. Between such shots of inspiration, Matsumoto's mock-doc framework seems a lazy stock device, interviews playing more dead than deadpan and failing to exceed an over-familiar comic-pathetic attitude toward the lives of functionaries.
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