Big Man Japan at the Esquire

Like Hancock, the Will Smith flick from last year, 2007's Big Man Japan tweaks the superhero myth by focusing on a shaggy, thoroughly unconventional guardian of society — one who has more critics than fans. But whereas the former falls to earth thanks to a plot loaded with psychodrama and pretense that quickly causes the fun to curdle, director/star Hitoshi Matsumoto slowly but steadily ratchets up the weirdness with deadpan wit and special effects that merge the sensibilities of Godzilla and Monty Python. The film starts slowly, with Matsumoto, as the low-key lump who swells into a Kid 'n Play-coiffed giant when a power plant's worth of electricity is fired into his nipples, talking to the off-screen maker of a documentary about his marital problems and dissatisfaction with the amount he gets paid for regularly saving humanity. But with the arrival of the Strangling Monster, a creature capable of destroying skyscrapers despite its lightbulb head and terrible comb-over, the story is transformed into a surrealistic satire that glories in its own strangeness. Better luck next time, Will.


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