Director: Satoshi Miki
Cast: Ryosuke Yamada, Tao Tsuchiya, Gaku Hamada, Joe Odagiri, Toshiyuki Nishida, Hidekazu Mashima
Runtime: 1 hr 55 mins
Rating: PG (Some Disturbing Scenes)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 23 June 2022
Synopsis: A KAIJU (Monster), which terrorized humans to unprecedented levels, suddenly died one day. While the people rejoice and bask in relief, the giant corpse left behind begins to slowly rot and bloat. If it explodes, the nation will be destroyed... The countdown to the end has begun. In a desperate race against time, the man assigned to handle the corpse with the fate of the nation at stake is neither a police officer nor a soldier, but a man with a past who disappeared 3 years ago... What is the mission entrusted to him? Will he be able to stop the explosion...?! A fantastical special effects entertainment about a man's "top secret mission" in the face of an unprecedented emergency begins to unfold.
What to Do with the Dead Kaiju? is a comedy/tokusatsu (special effects) movie written and directed by Miki Satoshi. Unlike most Kaiju (monster) movies which deal with heavy action and special effects in defeating the threat, the premise of this movie explores the situation of dealing with the carcass of the Kaiju, after it has been defeated.
Given a promising trailer and a star studded lineup for the movie’s cast, never would one imagine how badly it could flop. The movie attempts to poke fun at the state of politics in Japan, having several key ministers gathered in a room for an “intense discussion” on clearing the trash (read: Kaiju), only to have them skirt responsibilities like being assigned extra tasks by the teacher at class. Later on, when a bigger threat was uncovered, they held a similar cabinet meeting, repeating the same sort of dark humour and satire, which didn’t exactly take flight.
Yamada Ryosuke played the role of Obinata Arata in the Special Force, who was assigned to head the mission to clear “HOPE” – the name assigned to the now lifeless Kaiju. His mysterious, unexplained and almost paranormal disappearance 3 years ago seems to be linked to deeper secrets, and perhaps he holds the key to resolving the crisis. His once romantic relationship with the Environment Minister’s secretary, played by Tsuchiya Tao, forcibly added a bit of romance (or you could say fan service) to the story.
However as the story develops, it kept on trying to build a sense of mystery and introduced many more small side characters, who all seem to contribute to the story, yet insignificant. Some of these roles were played by award winning actors/actresses like Nikaido Fumi, Kikuchi Rinko and Sometani Shota; almost signalling a waste of talent. At the film’s climax, where we ought to see the SFX in full glory, the sense of satisfaction didn’t exactly match up. While the pacing of the movie was okay, the jokes and gags were more of a distraction than a complement, and the fixation of “kamikaze” wasn’t easily understood and appreciated too.
If it hasn’t been obvious enough, the film’s attempt at pulling off a satire piece and dabbling into the tokusatsu domain didn’t come across strongly and landed on nothing. If you’re a tokusatsu fan, sorry but this is going to be disappointing. Miki Satoshi is known for this type of ‘nonsense gag’, particularly with the stage plays he writes. Even if the loose references to the real-world events in the movie had made sense, the choice of medium and format was probably a misfit. The parallels drawn between the announcement of “HOPE” with the announcement of the new era’s name in Japan “Reiwa”, the ever-ongoing border tensions between Japan and Korea etc. While seemingly relevant, the quality of joke and humour simply didn’t achieve the intended reactions.
Overall, there were wasted opportunities with the cast and potential development of the narrative. With a runtime of 155 minutes, this nonsensical and inconsequential story that’s so out-of-the-world (in a bad way) makes you question what you just watched, and wonder how you could have made better use of your time.
P.S.: There is a short footage post credit roll. But trust me, it’s not worth staying for.
(This is a passable movie only if you walk into the cinema with no or negative expectations)
Review by Tho Shu Ling