There will always be a place in my heart reserved for ridiculous movies. Ones that know they are dumb and just go for it anyway. Terra Formars is one of those movies. It is everything that you’d expect from a Japanese sci-fi battle between giant humanoid cockroaches and criminals with bug powers who are being paid to destroy the roaches so that humans can live on Mars.
Jay tells me that this is a very tame and straightforward addition to director Takashi Miike’s body of work. I would have found that hard to believe but for the clip of his work that was played before our screening, in connection with Miike being awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Fantasia Film Festival, and the descriptions offered during the presentation by the festival’s organizers. All five that spoke clearly love Miike’s work and a more ringing endorsement could not have been given, though with a clear disclaimer that his most extreme work is not going to be enjoyed by many.
Personal taste aside, Miike would be deserving of the lifetime achievement award based on productivity alone, as he has somehow screened 30 films at Fantasia during the festival’s 20 years of existence!
Though Terra Formars may be tame and straightforward for Miike, it is a deliciously over-the-top action romp that proudly pays tribute to its manga roots. The roaches look very cartoony on screen but that seems intentional given how closely they match the source material. Just as cartoony are the hybrid human-bug heroes, who to my delight received voice-over intros describing each of their powers. The heroes look incredible in their bug forms, and the glee with which they rip apart the roaches (and vice versa) is contagious.
That glee carries over to the movie as a whole, and is the main reason that I was thoroughly charmed by Terra Formars from start to finish. It’s such a fun and bizarre adventure, you won’t care that much of it makes no sense at all. Highly recommended for anyone whose guilty pleasures include cheesy sci-fi monster movies.