Monster IslandStarring Carmen Electra, Daniel Letterl, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Adam West, Nick Carter. Written and directed by Jack Perez. Transmission Date: 2004. MTV Studios, 92 mins. Unrated
"Bad day to be famous."
"Due to unforeseen ingenious animal attack, Carmen Electra won't be performing tonight."
MTV's MONSTER ISLAND is a multi-layered film, going far beyond the conventions of a 'homage' or teen comedy and becoming something that delves into great themes of our times: fighting the good fight, facing fear head on and conquering it, the hero origin story, plus subplots of destiny and (possibly) reincarnation. It's a truly amazing display of masterpiece writing and directing, with a ensemble cast that appears unlikely to head on a movie of this magnitude. But alas, here we are.
Anyone believe that? If you did, shame on you. Sure, MONSTER ISLAND is - well, endurable, but it isn't a good or enjoyable movie by any means. There are some chuckling parts, to be sure, but the majority of the time, MONSTER ISLAND is just bad. Sadly, despite the potential for a fun teen-oriented sci-fi movie, MONSTER ISLAND doesn't really fall under the category of 'homage' or 'good', but instead is simply a bad movie that utilizes old tools to accomplish visual effects (and that, apparently, passes as 'homage' enough). The script is poor, the acting unbelievably bad, although Emmy worthy when compared to productions chummed out by the Asylum.
When Carmen Electra and Adam West provide the best performances in your movie, as a filmmaker, you should sorta guess you're in trouble. I do get that the movie's target audience is teenagers who'll chuckle at some of the dumb dialogue (look above), cameos (Nick Carter arriving in the film's closing moments to save the day), and humorous sequences, such as praying mantis sex. Regrettably, those moments just didn't clink with me. Although, kudos to the writers for naming West's character Doctor Harryhausen. Anyone who respects the master of visual effects gets a nod from me - and please, let's not engage in a Harryhausen vs. O'Brien debate.
Here we got a movie that climaxes with cave people fighting giant ants, which, y'know, on paper sounds alright, and quite right what with the whole homage thing going on. But execution wise - super poor, and super embarrassing. There's a big difference between lovingly paying homage to your genre and making a shitty movie for the hell of it and calling it a homage. Take 2009's SyFy Original Picture LOCH NESS TERROR for a good example of a loving homage. By no means is it a great film, but it's true beauty lies in how it respects its genre, embraces it, and simultaneously not only enjoys it but attempts to even stretch its legs. Y'know, add some fresh elements. 2004's THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA is another good example of this type of homage. This is one of 'em badder flicks, purposefully making things 'eck' for the hell of it.
On a brighter side, a starring role worth noting is Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Why? Well, I love her and her work, from GRINDHOUSE to SCOTT PILGRIM. But not even Ms. Winstead can get away with this ridiculous dialogue, and her character comes off barley any more likable than a JERSEY SHORE mate.
I can't in good conscious recommend MONSTER ISLAND. A while ago, when a Hollywood Video was closing up, they were selling the DVD of it for a buck. It was in its last days, and everything was a buck. But I skipped on it, unsure if it was even worth a buck. Dunno how wise of a decision maker I am, granted, taking into account I deemed KVC: KOMODO VS. COBRA worthy of purchase, but whatev. Point is: I'm glad I waited for a free stream. Is it worth that? Nah, not to the casual viewer, nor to any hardcore B-movie fans, or any fan of Harryhausen, O'Brien, Cooper, or the rest of 'em. It's just bad. Teens - well, to clarify - high teens, will quite enjoy this flick, no doubt. Otherwise, just skip it.