|ATTACK OF THE SUPER MONSTERS
|Copyright 1982 Associates Entertainment International
| Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 20 December 2002
- Jim Starbuck - Young leader of the Gemini Force. Why a brilliant scientist would choose a rash youth over an experienced and trusted man of thirty is beyond me. Maybe bionics are not capable of surviving a midlife crisis.
- Gem Starbuck - This would be Jim's sister. Oh good, a fiery redhead to compliment the young man's seasoned decision making.
- Jerry - Every crack team needs a clumsy goofball to be complete. One wonders how he survives (more on that later).
- Wally - The team's science officer. He looks like an old geek and has all sorts of pets. We can safely assume that Wally does not date much.
- Dr. Kharmady - The brilliant scientist who looks like a chubby version of Hitler.
- Lord Tyrannus - The ruthless ruler of the dinosaurs. He took leadership lessons from Count Zartharn. "Kill! Destroy!"
- The Super Monsters - Dinosaurs did not die out. They moved underground and developed lethal halitosis.
|I hope you are ready for this movie. If you are not, it is going to hit you out of nowhere like a truck. The really dangerous issue is the "seamless integration" of suitmation, super-marionation, and animation.
Before I get rolling and hurt someone, let me explain. The narration (lots of ations in this movie) informs us that dinosaurs did not die off as previously believed. The huge reptiles burrowed deep into the Earth and evolved into super monsters. Under the direction of their emperor, Tyrannus, the creatures now seek to destroy mankind. The dinosaurs are almost always realized by placing some poor actor in a rubber suit. The Gemini Force is a group of four individuals who are pledged to protect humanity. For the most part, the "movie's" (I suspect this was a failed kids' show) human characters are animated. Change their uniforms and they could be dropped into "Starblazers" or "Battle of the Planets." Last, but not least, the Gemini Force uses a giant transport aircraft and an armored train/tank hybrid. The vehicles would be right at home in Gerry Anderson's "Thunderbirds" series.
Are you okay? Are you still with me?
Lord Tyrannus sends a Tyrannosaurus to destroy mankind. The super monster surfaces near a pair of cartoon hunters who are out with their cartoon dogs. It blasts the Dalmations with a red ray that turns them into like colored killer canines. The two men are ripped to pieces and the red dogs begin biting other dogs. The bites create even more red dogs. Pretty soon a plague of vicious red pooches is tearing up the countryside. Team Gemini is sent to stop the beasts from entering the city.
The horde of killer canines is stopped at the bridge, though it takes lasers fired at full power to stun them. Also, and sorry for not mentioning this before, the back half of the train/tank splits off and starts flying around. Jim and Gem remain in the command module, but their companions use the rear section to provide air cover (it has other uses too). The vehicle assigned to Jerry and Wally looks like a large, flying dumpster. By now you should understand why my wife spent the first thirty minutes of the movie giggling uncontrollably.
Just when they thought the situation was under control, the Tyrannosaurus controlling the dogs rears his ugly head. The weapons systems are ineffective against the monster, so Jim and Gem decide to change into Gemini. By touching wrists and engaging their bionics, the two siblings are merged into a superhuman being. Gem's soul (or something) is left bereft of a body, speaking in echoing tones from a web of energy, while Jim develops some feminine features and prominent ears. The vehicle also undergoes a complete metamorphosis, gaining a drill bit nose, spikes, and wings with circular saw blades on the tips.
The downside to the Gemini transfer is that the brother and sister team can only remain merged for three and a half minutes. Would carbo-loading extend that time limit? I do not know, but they handily defeat the Tyrannosaurus with only seconds to spare. They saw its head off! The super monster falls over, subsequently exploding in a hail of sparks. Jerry and Wally use the dumpster to put out stray fires before joining the others.
I swear on my mother's grave that this is all true. No way could I be making it up.
A couple of things happen in almost every battle. The dinosaur controls a type of creature, two hapless pieces of human meat get munched, Jim and Gem are forced to merge when normal weapons fail to stop the monster, and a fire is extinguished by the flying dumpster. If the different fights were the same duration you could probably set your watch by the events.
The next attack is a pterosaur (not a dinosaur, but close enough) controlling a colony of giant bats. Two cartoon hikers stumble into the cave and immediately get et, then the bat swarm takes out a helicopter (crewed by two people). Following that, the pterosaur leads his bat army in an attack against the city. The Gemini Force is in trouble, because Gem is trapped inside a building that the bats are attacking, while the rest of the team is outside in the vehicles. The rubber bats bounce off the outside of the building before finding an open door. Once inside, they bounce off doors and walls.
My description of the special effects used here is dead accurate. The bats are rubber and suspended on fishing line. Somebody jiggles the props up and down, then abruptly smacks them into stuff. Egad, I thought myself too jaded to stare slack-jawed at a movie. I was wrong.
The bats are dispersed with anti-bat ordinance, but that only makes the super monster enter the fray. Jim tells Jerry and Wally to take the flying dumpster and distract the monster; they immediately comply. (How many Jerry and Wallys does the team go through in a month?) With the pterosaur's attention elsewhere, Jim is able to rescue his sister from the damaged building. They immediately transform into Gemini and the super monster's life expectancy drops dramatically.
Okay, next monster. A stegosaurus commands a huge army of red rats to destroy an oil refinery. There are two subplots in this segment, one about a little girl who apparently hates rats and the second a fight between Jim and Gem - over a blouse! Dude, you have been spending too much time merged with your sister!
The red rat army does severe damage to the refinery by chewing through pipes and storage tanks (wow, just plain wow). To stop the super monster and his minions, Jim and Gem must become Gemini, but Dr. Kharmady warns that they cannot until their personal problems are resolved. Jim smacks his sister before climbing out of the armored vehicle to save the little girl's male guardian (brother, father, I do not know). The male part of Gemini blasts away at the stegosaurus with a pistol and is about to get mashed when his sister saves the day with her pistol. I imagine that Dr. Kharmady was watching all this, shaking his head sadly. Billions spent on research and equipment, but his commanders resort to handguns. The two idiots eventually climb back into the vehicle and transform into Gemini. End of stegosaurus.
The last battle was fun since I got to say, "Red rat! Red rat!" over and over.
A rampaging styracosaurus, terribly misidentified as a triceratops, is the next attacker. For some odd reason it does not control any animals, plus the Gemini Force kicks its butt without transforming. This flies in the face of Gem observing that the super monster was very strong. Maybe it was opposite day and her saying that actually meant the styracosaurus was a wuss.
The bleeding super monster burrows to safely, leaving Jim troubled. Why did it attack a humble suburb? What was the true intent of the assault? Jerry wants to rescue some people who are trapped in a damaged tower, but the commander insists on staying alert and together. Watching helpless civilians die does not bode well with the junior team member; he mutinies. The flying dumpster detaching is just what Tyrannus wanted. The wounded super monster resurfaces and attacks, inflicting a concussion on Jim before retreating. The king dinosaur's true intent is revealed when a Tyrannosaurus emerges and begins spraying radioactive dust everywhere.
Can the heroes stop the pair of super monsters? Jim's head wound means that the Gemini transfer is potentially fatal, but without the extraordinary powers of Gemini and his (er, her, its, their...aw, forget it) drill ship, all may be lost.
|Things I Learned From This Movie:|| |
- The Japanese version of the Pentagon is much smaller. In fact, it is a table.
- There is a reason that CNN, not Cartoon Network, covers disaster stories.
- The last hope of all mankind is a cybernetic hermaphrodite suffering from split personality disorder.
- Earthquakes cause airplanes to shake too.
- Hikers should always carry a portable radio in case the dinosaurs unexpectedly return.
- Japanese building codes require that any skyscraper be able to support a main battle tank landing on the roof.
- Exposing your soft underbelly is not the best way to win a battle.
- Even superhuman heroes should wear seat belts and helmets.
- Disobeying a direct order is hilarious.
- Sloths are the result of breeding raccoons with monkeys.
- 1 min - This looks like footage from "Ultraman," but, for the love of peace, it is too low budget, even for "Ultraman."
- 5 mins - Girdler would have put this scene closer to the end of the film.
- 13 mins - Oooof! That car was hating it.
- 22 mins - The pterosaur is hanging upside down, from the cave ceiling. Right.
- 30 mins - What in the world possessed these people to develop anti-bat weapons?
- 36 mins - The physics of this scene give me a headache.
- 62 mins - I bet that either Jan Michael Vincent or George Peppard could drive that thing.
- 71 mins - Holy unexplained telescoping shaft Batman!
- 79 mins - Ah, a seamless integration of animation and live action special effects.
- Dr. Kharmady: "This is a real emergency! The super monsters have sent a triceratops to the outer suburbs of the city."
- Jim: "Don't tell me my duty!"
Jerry: "Tell me Jim, there's a rumor going around the base that when the professor installed your Gemini circuitry he also took out your heart."
| ||Audio clips in wav format||SOUNDS||Starving actors speak out|| |
||The narrator lays down the plot. I urge you to listen.
||Dr. Kharmady: "We've received strange reports from Alpha Sector Three. Reliable witnesses there tell of monstrous red dogs ravaging the countryside, as well as earthquakes and fires." |
Wally: "Did you say these were reliable witnesses?"
||Jim: "The super monster is attacking the school! Those kids are in danger!"
||Pterosaur: "I am here, oh great and mighty Tyrannus. What is your will?" |
Tyrannus: "I have used my power to infect the bats with a thirst for blood and destruction. Lead them against the humans!"
| ||Click for a larger image||IMAGES||Scenes from the movie|| |
| ||Watch a scene||VIDEO||MPEG video files|| |
|The Gemini Force has just arrived and is engaging the "triceratops" that threatens the city. The dinosaur's voice is the same as Lord Tyrannus', but do not let that distract you from the monster calling the train/tank a "stupid toy."
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