Thursday, September 8, 2011

Monsters vs Aliens Challenge: The Creature from the Black Lagoon

It's my penultimate post in this challenge! After this, The Fly is the only one left. This also serves as my final review of all the main Universal Studios Monsters, though I still have plenty of sequels to get through if I want to see them all.

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I had high hopes for this movie, and that may be why I came off feeling a bit disappointed. Since the creature in the film does not talk, it would require a strong cast to help pick up the slack. Unfortunately, I didn't find it here. It felt very stereotypical and standard, and one day after watching the film I can't even remember anyone's name. There's an older scientist who mostly exists to get the plot moving. Two young scientists with differing views serve to build conflict - one wants money and fame from his discoveries, the other wants to better mankind. Then there's the girl, who serves to provide badly aged jokes like "Why aren't you two married yet?" and to do silly things like swimming alone in a strange swamp just to get the creature to notice her. There's also the captain of the boat, who has an absolutely terrible accent and fails miserably as comic relief.

As such we're pretty much left with the creature itself. I got a little worried at first because in the first few scenes, all we see are hands or arms. But we get our first real glimpse of the creature 24 minutes into the film, and he stays around pretty heavily from then on. His characterization is a little inconsistent. First he attacks a camp for seemingly no good reason, then he sees the girl and basically just swims beside her, mesmerized, and doesn't really harm anyone until the humans attack him. I think the reason he attacks the camp early on is because they find the bones of a hand of one of his species and take it away, but honestly that seems like a strange thing to kill two men for. The scene seems to be there to try to amp up the danger for us and doesn't really suit the rest of the plot. Without it we would be left with a creature who only becomes dangerous when his life and home are threatened, and he could become a much more likeable creature that way.

The costume is really rather impressive, and has more movement then you might expect. It's even more impressive when you realize it had to be designed to function both on land and under the water. There are a lot of scenes that happen underwater, and the score is strong enough that you don't mind the lack of dialogue at all. Really, given how I felt about most of the people, I think I would have been happy to have a movie that was 100% underwater.

There are strong physical differences between The Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Missing Link in Monsters vs Aliens, but there's no doubt that one influenced the other. Link is said to be 20,000 years old, and shortly after he was thawed out he caused some problems at his old lagoon habitat.

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Link is voiced by Will Arnett, who I love thanks to Arrested Development. He's ultra macho with a lot of pride, perhaps because he is so old he's bound to have an outdated way of thinking. He also lives up to his name - he's the only one able to communicate with Insectosaurus. Unlike a lot of the other characters who only serve as comic relief, Link is a strong supporting character, keeping the group moving forward whenever Ginormica isn't around.

The creature received two sequels and has been referenced countless times in other media. As a member of the Universal Studios Monsters group, he gets a fair amount of attention and tends to be instantly recognizable to most of us in America. Perhaps my favorite tribute to him is the fishman found in The Nightmare Before Christmas.

3 comments:

  1. I am a lover of the Creature, but I gotta admit it hasn't always wowed me. It's like, some days I love it for the awesome creature and Julie Adams in swimwear, and some days I'm just not ready for its silliness and lack of interesting characters. Which is basically what you said, which means you're right. :)

    I will say, however, that the moment when the Creature approaches the camera in extreme close-up mode STILL gives me legitimate chills. Never got over being scared of it as a kid. Which is awesome.

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  2. I can see the creature being scary through a child's eyes - the scales, the claws, the bulging eyes, the gaping mouth...

    I also think it would have been really neat to see that scene in the original 3D!

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  3. I love how clever this movie is how they used large things as helpful props for Ginormica such as the convertible cars as roller skates. It’s a shame though that she went towards the people rather than keeping the robot away from them because of the potential for deaths. I suppose that helped create more suspense. The Missing Link was my favorite character but I have never seen “The Creature from the Black Lagoon.” I am always looking for the movie I missed as I am an avid movie watcher but what I like about Blockbuster is that I can always find movies not only rare but 28 days before other movie services. Not only that but the Blockbuster Movie Pass from DISH Network that is free for new customers gives me one bill from DISH, over 100,000 movies plus games, streaming and I also get 20 movie channels on my DISH employee account as a current customer for only $10 a month. Next on my queue is Thor and I don’t have to pay extra for mail to my home, or Blue-ray.

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