Monster Island (2004)

Monster Island (2004)

Death Is Their Final Destination.

When he wins an MTV competition that his sister secretly entered him in, Josh is whisked off to a remote jungle island for a special party where he will get to meet Carmen Electra. Unbeknownst to everyone at the party, the island used to be the location of a government atomic test and is now home to giant bugs. During the party, a flying ant swoops down from the sky and carries Carmen off towards the mountain. Josh decides to take a stand and instead of heading for the rescue boat with the others, he and a few of his friends decide to set off through the jungle to rescue her.

 

MTV is hardly going to be the first name on anyone’s lips when you talk about the movies. More famous for their music videos and TV shows, MTV has seemingly decided to branch out a bit more into the world of film. Obviously designed by and for the MTV generation, Monster Island is a throwback or homage to the old 50s sci-fi flicks which were obsessed with throwing all manner of mutated monstrosities at the camera. But given that it was made to show on MTV, you can be rest assured that there’s lots of self-promotion, a distinct lack of budget and a real sense of ‘give me a break’ with how it all pans out.

Don’t try and even take this seriously. From the ridiculous plot about rescuing Carmen Electra (she’s smokin’ hot but if she got carried off by a flying bug, tough luck!) to the atrocious special effects (and ‘special’ is pushing it) to the even more inane dialogue, there’s nothing here that should really click. But funnily enough, it all works because it’s got a silly charm. It doesn’t take too long to get down to it and once the characters set off to rescue Carmen, there are always plenty of shenanigans to fill the time. The film winks at itself numerous times and it clearly knows how flawed it is. The dialogue, as bad as it, works because some of the things said are pretty witty (including the wacky scientist who has plenty of off-beat quotes).

At a running time of around an hour and half, it’s not that much to allow your brain to die and doesn’t overly outstay its welcome. The special effects are terrible though. From a pair of giant preying mantis, one of which is involved in a laughable toy fight with a bulldozer, to a giant-spider-on-string and of course, the ants, there’s not an effect here that you wouldn’t have seen in a kids cartoon. It looks like they hired stop motion artists who do kids shows like Fireman Sam (before CGI got to it) and the results are giant creatures that you want to stand and laugh at, not run away from. The best effect in the film is that of a piranha man – simply a guy in a suit. At least I’ll give some credit for the effects team to use stop motion as opposed to CGI. They could have taken the cheap route out but opted to pay homage a little more with some old school effects. Just next time, hire some better animators.

As for the cast, well the youngsters do their best in their tiresome roles. Daniel Letterle does what he can with the throwaway lead role and has a few moments of inspirational absurdity (like watching him try to rally a posse to rescue Carmen). I completely lost track of his friends though and just referred to them as stoner, nerd, bitch, jock and so on. Chelan Simmons can scream like no other though! As for the more famous people in this flick, Carmen Electra looks amazing as usual but apart from a few minutes sandwiched at the beginning and end, she’s not in the film at all. Adam ‘Batman’ West pops up here as Dr Harryhausen (a pretty lame homage name to the god of stop motion) and he’s funny. He’s kind of an in-joke of himself now and laps up the chance to show what he can do to a younger audience. There’s also a lame cameo from Nick Carter (of Backstreet Boys fame) who arrives in the nick of time to save our friends. Its definitely a bizarre couple of cameos which all work in their own quirky way.

 

Monster Island is a dopey genre flick. Low on budget, skill and all-round talent, it makes up for it in honesty, wit and cheesy charm. It’s clearly targeted at MTV viewers who have no idea what some of the in-jokes and homages to the 50s ‘atomic monster’ films are all about but for those of us who do know, there’s a few smiles to be had. Don’t watch if you’re offended by bad films.

 

 ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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