What to Do with the Dead Kaiju? (2022) is a title that offers an incredible premise, but the film that is delivered isn’t able to live up to it. Do they attempt to answer this question? Yes, but it is a much more literal debate in an attempt to satirize bureaucracy. The comedy sometimes works, but filmmaker Satoshi Miki struggles to find a balance in the overall tone of the film to make it work from beginning to end. Still, it’s not a bad entry at the Fantasia International Film Festival, and the nugget of a good idea manages to deliver moments of entertainment.
A Kaiju that had been tormenting Japan suddenly dies, and now no one knows what to do about it. While most people rejoice at the end of the monster’s torment, the giant corpse left behind begins to slowly rot and bloat, creating new problems. If it explodes, the nation will be destroyed.
The structure of the film is problematic; there are a few different jumps in time that felt very jarring and unclear with regard to how the story was being conveyed. Many of those moments are crucial for the end of the film to be truly understood, yet how those moments were randomly inserted into the film really didn’t make sense. Non-linear storytelling through flashbacks can be effective, but it helps if there is an underlying motivation for those flashbacks. This film offers a few different character perspectives that are alluding to the cause of Kaiju’s death. However, it really doesn’t connect with the overall premise of the film. Ultimately, this thread of the story just feels like a different movie crammed into the one that the title offers as the premise.
It is also very hard to make a science fiction film with a low budget. There are several moments that just look bad, but that is probably because of the costs of visual effects. Overall, the look and design of the creature are solid – but when they aren’t, it is very noticeable. This is not really a knock on the film, but sometimes the ambitions of a story overreach, and the overall product suffer as a result.
What to Do with the Dead Kaiju? was a movie I was quite excited about. While I didn’t end up loving it, I don’t regret watching it. I think a more traditional structure – or at least better clarity on the flashbacks – would really help the film quite a bit. The cast did a solid job, and the jokes that worked were entertaining. All of the “war room” scenes reminded me of Dr. Strangelove Lite, and that still managed to get some laughs out of me. What to Do with the Dead Kaiju? earns the Not a Total Waste of Time rating.