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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

GWOEMUL / THE HOST (2006)


This exceptionally entertaining monster-on-the-loose pic from South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-Ho reinvigorates some pretty old tropes about the consequences of poisoning the waters of the earth. This time, it’s Seoul’s Han River that gives birth to the slippery, speedy gigantic thing (part dolphin, part lizard, part fish, all id & all hungry) that’s terrorizing the city. Plus, survivors of the initial attacks are now coming down with an Ebola-like virus. Or are they? The smart mix of social commentary, along with mocking looks at American military types, unquestioning tv news anchors & overzealous police officers all add pizzaz to the mix. But the film gets its unexpectedly rich emotional texture from its concentration on one divinely dysfunctional family who’ll do anything, even come together, to find their youngest, a pre-teen girl who may have survived an attack. Didn’t she just call them on a cell phone? If only the authorities would believe them, or at least let them try and find her rather than keep them quarantined with that damned virus. The monster is a little cartoony in Joon-Ho’s mix of CGI & puppetry, but this works for the mixed tone of comedy & grue he gets with his fast-moving, wonderfully clear technique. Better yet, he shows a special bond with his actors who all give unexpectedly witty characterizations. A bit intense for some, but good gloppy fun for anyone with a taste for the genre.

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