Aah! The Hollywood Imposter: 'Kraa! The Sea Monster' Review
What happens when you delve deep into the underbelly of kaiju cinema? What emerges from the murky depths of forgettable, late 90’s science fiction? Where do we cross the line between “fun because it's campy” and “terrible because it’s campy?” I think I’ve found that line and boy oh boy is this movie way over it.
Kraa! The Sea Monster is a 1998 kaiju monster movie produced by Hollywood and not its genre-master, Toho. This should be the first indication of where things are about to go wrong – the next being its plot, if you can even call it that. One day, the ever-so-malicious and creatively dubbed Lord Doom (played by Michael Guerin and voiced by Jerry Lentz) decides his never-melting ice planet might not be the best place to live – parkas are expensive y’know. So, he sends his 200-foot tall kaiju henchman Kraa to conquer planet Earth to be his new home – as climate-displaced intergalactic dictators do. Lucky for Earth, it’s got the Power Ra—err the Planet Patrol as its planetary defenders ready to repel Kraa’s attacks.
Lord Doom, Planet Patrol, big space monster, it’s easy to see why one would be skeptical of the film’s watchability. But, fear not dear reader, for that’s where you should be especially suspicious! Along with a plot stretched thinner than your college girlfriend’s stockings, you’ve got your run-of-the-mill generic, everyday action movie plot devices, clichés and acting so one-dimensional it seems straight out of your community college creative writing class. Though a con in and of itself, a rubber suit kaiju stomping on obvious miniatures wasn’t an utterly terrible approach if watchable longevity was a concern of the director's because we all know how 90’s CGI holds up now. But, thinking back on the terrible, apparently stolen premise and storyboarding, it doesn’t seem like that was at the top of their priority list.
For a few drunken laughs at shoddy moviemaking on a late Saturday night, it’s not a terrible choice. But if we’re speaking candidly, it’s a terrible film. Kaiju cinema is inherently campy, and though individual American and Japanese directors are trying to push their own, more fleshed out reimaginings to the screen, it doesn’t atone for the sins of those few exceptionally bad monster movies made in the armpit of Hollywood’s VFX pursuits.