If you’d like to get a look at the original “Big Man Japan,” it’s available on Netflix Instant right, and it’s worth your time. Of course, I offer up that information with a caveat: the movie is incredibly, almost mind-bogglingly weird.
It’s also one of those things where the more familiar you are with the film conventions that it intentionally, gleefully subverts, the more you’re going to end up enjoying the film, and it really only works as a response to the tradition of kaiju movies and TV shows that are such a fundamental part of Japan’s pop culture history.
So when the news broke via press release this morning to announce that Columbia purchased the remake and sequel rights to “Big Man Japan,” I had a hard time imagining what sort of plans Neal Moritz has for the material. Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi are already onboard to write the new film, and it sounds like something they are moving forward on fairly quickly.
As usual, there are no isolated incidents in Hollywood, and right now, kaiju is starting to become a hot property in general. Legendary Pictures seems determined to make the genre viable on the bigscreen between their development of “Godzilla” and Guillermo Del Toro’s “Pacific Rim,” and both of those sound like serious approaches to the notion of giant monsters.
“Big Man Japan” is decidedly not a serious approach to anything. Instead, you could view this as a “Men In Black” style approach to the genre, about one guy who works for the Department Of Monster Prevention. Anytime there is a threat to the security of his country, he grows to giant size to fight it. He’s a bit of a menace when he’s in giant form, though, and has to deal with the legacy left behind by his father and grandfather, who were both beloved when they did the job.
Hitoshi Matsumoto is a filmmaker with a unique voice, and even if my description of the storyline for “Big Man Japan” makes it sound like a high-concept comedy that would be easily adapted, that’s not the way the film actually plays when you watch it. Toby Jaffe’s got a tough gig ahead of him, developing the film for Original Films to remake. And, yes, I find it hilarious that Moritz’s company, responsible for the remake, is Original Films. Between that and “21 Jump Street” and “Total Recall” right now, I wouldn’t say “original” is that company’s biggest mandate.
Very curious to see how this one comes together. I still can’t believe it’s even in development, but I guess we’re in an age where everything and anything is fair game, so I shouldn’t be surprised.
No word on when Sony’s going to try to aim for a release on this one. My guess is we’ll learn more once a director’s onboard and a script is in place.
In the meantime, Hay & Manfredi have both “The Boys” and “R.I.P.D.” in development with Original, and we’ll most likely see them onscreen first.