Negadon: The Monster from Mars
Distributed by Central Park Media
Directed by Jun Awazu
Genre: Monster Movie
Running Time: 70 Minutes
Rating: Suitable for Ages 13 and up. Contains scenes of violence
Reviewed by Jon Minners
I remember growing up as a child, there were just some things you did that stay with you. I still remember getting up every Saturday morning and watching the various cartoons. I still love cartoons today. I remember every Saturday afternoon watching kung-fu movies. I still love kung-fu flicks, but only the dubbed kind. And, finally, another Saturday/Thanksgiving tradition that stays with me: the obsession with monster movies. The cheesiness and at the same time, almost lifelike monsters of Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, King Kong and so many others, captured my imagination like nothing else. It’s that very same reason that people were so disappointed with the Americanized Godzilla film. It’s also, to a small degree, why Jurassic Park did so well. People love that excitement of a monster tearing through a City, leaving devastation behind it. We know they are bad, but we cheer for them anyway.
And now there is a new monster film to enjoy. Central Park Media announced the DVD release of Negadon: The Monster from Mars, the world’s first completely computer-generated monster movie. The film is directed by Jun Awazu, who loved monster movies and feels disconnected with today’s movies. Awazu created a script and then went about creating one of the most realistic, jaw-dropping looking creature, lifelike characters and breathtaking landscapes I have ever seen; all via a computer. Viewers almost have to take a second look before they realize that the movie playing itself on the screen is computer generated. Amazing.
The film, itself, pays homage to all the old Japanese horror films and took close to two and a half years to complete. But the wait was well worth it. The film has already won the Outstanding Production Award at the 2006 Digital Contents Grand Prix and was also named a Jury Recommended Work at the 2006 Japan Media Arts Festival.
And it is easy to see why. All CGI aside, Negadon probably has the most dramatic and involving storyline of any monster movie ever. Set in the year 2025, the world population explodes to over 10 billion. In search of a new place to live, mankind initiates the space exploration project entitled The Mars Terraforming Project. But mankind realizes the errors of their ways when a Japanese freight spaceship, returning from Mars, crashes on the streets of Tokyo. There, it unleashes a deadly cargo: Negadon, a giant vicious monster from beneath the surface of Mars! Come on; where did you think a monster would head. This DVD even points out, in a tongue-in-cheek manner, that as long as Japan exists, monsters will thrive.
But one man can stop the latest attack against the Japanese people. Dr. Narasaki once built a robot Miroku, but the freak death of his daughter has left the doctor a shell of a man, despite the efforts of a former colleague to bring him back to work. Now, with the attack, Narasaki has a chance to help Earth fight back against a deadly enemy. With nothing to lose, Narasaki pilots Miroku in a battle to end all battles. The fate of mankind hangs in the balance. Who will survive?
You combine some of the fun of a monster flick with the fun of a mecha adventure and you have yourself an excellent addition in the annals of Japanese cinema. CGI created monsters will never replace the likes of Godzilla. Monster films, at their heart, are loved because of their cheesy rubber suits and over-the-top storylines. That being said, Negadon has provided a new opportunity to create monster films of a different nature. With no obstacles in the way, CGI monster films present a more realistic looking creature, more realistic action and even deeper storylines with a greater impact on its audience. At its core, Negadon is a sad story of honor and redemption. I loved it.
DVD extras include two monster film shorts, trailers, an insightful interview with the director and an amazing behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film.
Well worth the purchase, Negadon may not replace Godzilla, but it definitely has potential to be a worthy addition to the monster-verse. Set for a release on July 11, I'm already anxiously awaiting a sequel.