Who's in It:
Song Kang-ho, Ko Ah-sung, Park Hae-il, Byeon Hie-bong, Bae Du-na
The Basics: Welcome to the coolest movie of the year. A giant monster the result of either military chemicals or a virus emerges from a river in Seoul, South Korea, and begins stomping and eating its way through the population. A Homer Simpson-ish food-service man, in turn, becomes an unstoppable force when trying to rescue his little daughter from the creature's grasp.
What's the Deal? Don't assume that just because you know that this is about a giant monster that eats people that you know what comes next or even what this movie is really about. After the political content of the first Godzilla was removed from its American release, the idea of giant monsters attacking people quickly became kid-centric stuff, which is great and all, but this one is rated R (even if kids will love it) and without spoiling anything, it's also a political satire, a criticism of military intervention, a post-AIDS horror fantasy about SARS and bird flu and environmental toxicity and a weirdly moving family comedy about death. I know that's a lot of stuff, but trust me, it's all in here.
What's Great About It: It's wildly entertaining, and if you ever loved the Godzilla movies, then this one will take you right back to being eight years old and make you a believer again. But it's also gorgeous to look at, from the art-house-snob-worthy cinematography to the creature design and animation. On top of it all is the way it expertly juggles all the ideas it takes on. It's as nearly perfect a piece of pop art as I've seen in a long time, and I want to watch it again right now.
Why You Should See It Sooner and Not Later: Because I guarantee that someone's already making the deal to turn this into a crappy American remake.
Hey, I Just Voted for That Guy's Wife: On the American character actor alert front, the very first White Devil who pops up the doctor who, in the very first scene, demands his Korean colleague dump dozens of bottles of formaldehyde down a drain and into the river is Scott Wilson. You don't know his name because that's the way it goes with character actors. Anyway, he was one of the killers, alongside Robert Blake, in 1967's In Cold Blood, and he's been in a lot of stuff since then. Anyway, in a bit of trivia completely unrelated to this movie, his wife, Heavenly Wilson, just ran for city council here in West Hollywood. Sadly, she lost.