01st Jul2019

‘Monster Island’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Eric Roberts, Toshi Toda, Adrian Bouchet, Natalie Robbie, Donna Cormack Thomson, Chris Fisher, Jonathan Pienaar, Margot Wood, Andrew Dennison, Meghan Oberholzer, Ryan Kruger | Written and Directed by Mark Atkins

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Syfy and mockbuster producers The Asylum are back with yet another blockbuster movie cash-in with Monster Island, their take on Godzilla: King of the Monsters… only WITHOUT Godzilla to save the day! The plots are virtually identical: in this case a deep-sea drilling expedition gone wrong uncovers a monstrous giant starfish that wrecks havoc on humanity, an awakening that is followed by even more kaiju arising and terrorising Earth – forcing a team of scientists to find the legendary creature, the Living Mountain, and get it to battle the menace.

Oh and did I mention that not only is there a giant starfish but he spews lava/magma and is probably responsible for all the worlds volcanic disasters? And we also get fire-breathing monsters, a la King Ghidorah, that are born from eggs stashed all over the globe? And Eric Roberts provides the films only star name; despite being in the film for handful of scenes in one of the shortest cameos ever?

So essentially this, like its blockbuster counterpart, is a case of Kaiju versus Kaiju, with the slimmest of stories to hold everything together. Though to be fair to Monster Island, the idea that said kaiju are actually responsible for natural disasters – tapping in the REAL study of Geomythology (in which the origin of myths and legends can be shown to contain references to geological phenomena) – is a lot more intriguing than the film itself and if that was explored more it would raise the film above sheer mockbuster status.

Writer/director Mark Atkins is one of The Asylum’s go-to directors, having helmed a huge amount of films for the company since 2006, yet he’s also one of the companies most inconsistent. For every reat film like Empire of the Sharks there’s a terrible one such as 6-Headed Shark Attack. Though I will say, outside of The Asylum he was also co-writer and director of 2016′s Left to Die, a brilliant action-movie offering yet another take of the old “Most Dangerous Game” trope. Which, in short, means you’re never quite sure which Atkins you’re going to get with each and every one of his movies – thankfully Monster Island is all great Atkins. Yes, the story, from Atkins the writer, may be a rip-off but Atkins, the director, makes this an exciting kaiju films that is as fun (and honestly cheesy) as any 70s Godzilla flick.

I’m not going to lie, this is yet another low-budget CGI-filled film from The Asylum and if you don’t like that sort of thing you’re not going to like this. But… but, if you’re like me and live for these cheesy, gloriously over-the-top, B-movies then there’s a LOT to recommend about Monster Island. Not least the monsters themselves. Yes, the monsters a rendered in CGI, which gets questionable at times (as does a lot of CGI in Syfy/The Asylum productions), but the character designs are superb – from the monstorous-looking starfish to the, frankly, bizarre and terrifying lava-spewing skull-headed birds, to the Living Mountain himself, who looks like a cross between the 1998 Godzilla and an actualy mountain – there looks to have some real thought put into making the films monsters really look the part. And when they fight? Well who cares about the rest of the film… I came here to see kaiju versus kaiju action!

Monster Island is out now on DVD from Dazzler Media.

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