Sharknado 4 does not come out until later this evening so it cannot be reviewed here until next week. To keep our monster movie theme going, and in honor of the recently released (in Japan) Godzilla Resurgence, we will be reviewing Kaiju Winter.
The premise of Kaiju Winter is fairly straightforward; Yellowstone is about to erupt. Seeing as it is a super volcano, everyone in the immediate area and most of the United States population for that matter is getting the hell out of Dodge. So even though the volcano has been building up closer to the point of eruption for weeks, a little town that is still within spitting distance of it is just now evacuating for some reason. This is where our craziness begins.
There is a psychotic FBI agent who has abandoned his post to track someone to the town. And the word “psychotic” can be used with its dictionary definition here; this guy was probably the kid in school that kept dead animals in his locker. You obviously have the person hiding from this guy to add to our character list and the rest of the cast is filled out by the town sheriff, a convict who is being transported, a volcanologist, a U.S. soldier, the president of the United States, and a few yahoos who think the super volcano is the biblical End of Times. Everyone else is a nameless townie who becomes quick cannon fodder once the real threat shows up, the monsters.
Now, there are really two ways to do a monster story (usually in movie format). You can do it the Eastern way (i.e. Godzilla, Gamera, etc.) where there is one or two monsters that usually end up fighting are the stars of the show. We will call this first type of film a Kaiju movie, given the word’s Eastern origins. Then you have the Western way (a la King Kong) with a singular giant monster or a swarm of smaller monsters that man must fight against. This is just a Giant Monster film. Kaiju Winter is not a Kaiju story; there are multiple types of kaiju in the book with literal swarms of most of them.
One of the gripes with this book is that the monsters are not given very much description. Like, one of the monster species can fly and is pretty much just described as a “flying monster”. Well, what does it really look like? Are we talking Tweety Bird on steroids or a pterodactyl? Most of the monsters in the book are given just a barebones description that lets you fill in the blanks with your imagination more than anything else. The other issue was the impossible size of some of the monsters. Yes, most giant monster movies feature an animal that is too large to really exist and we just roll with it. But whereas Godzilla or King Kong on a few hundred feet tall some of the monsters in Kaiju Winter are thousands of feet tall. The descriptions given make it sound like some of these things have their heads sticking out into the stratosphere when they stand up straight.
The other thing was that the human characters had virtually no important interactions with the monsters. That is not to say the monsters are not a threat to the characters, they certainly are, but they were more like something that was just in the way than a true antagonistic force. Ultimately it is the U.S. military that actually gets stuff done as far as ending the threat goes; these characters are just the people who happened to be in the area and lived (mostly). For a book with “kaiju” in the title, Kaiju Winter just does not get the job done.