Film review #516
Director: Jim Wynorski
SYNOPSIS: Residents of a remote mid-western town are mysteriously disappearing, which turns out to be the work of a giant lizard. Chase Winstead is a tow truck mechanic in town, and teams up with the residents of the town in order to try and stop the monster before it eats everyone…
THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Gila! is a 2012 film, and a remake of the 1959 film The Giant Gila Monster. A b-movie is a strange choice for a remake, but The Giant Gilla Monster had some brand recognition, as it was one of the first double-feature films for drive-in theatres, and was fairly popular upon release. The story is essentially the same as the original, with a small American town being terrorised by a giant lizard, and Chase Winstead, a local tow truck mechanic, works with the rest of the town to try and uncover the mystery and put a stop to it. Usually with these sorts of remakes, the story is at least updated to the present day to make it more relevant, but here, they have kept it set in the 50′s like the original, which really does beg the question what the purpose of this remake is. There are are only two big differences in the story: one is that the location is a mid-west town, rather than a southern U.S. one, and the inclusion of Waco Bob, a rebellious teen who sort of serves as Chase’s nemesis and a villain role. Neither of these really add in anything interesting, and there’s just an overall feeling that the whole remake is pointless: it changes nothing, it doesn’t have a bigger budget or production to make it a more significant and serious film, and it clearly stretches itself to over ninety minutes by padding out scenes needlessly. There’s also a rather big plothole where the mayor’s daughter Betty is clearly eaten by the lizard at the start of the film, but is found alive later on. Maybe this is due to the film having three writers and little communication, and why a remake that just copies it’s original needs three writers is a bit of a mystery.
The cast of characters is fairly large, and there is some effort in trying to give them all a bit of character, but ultimately they’re still all a little flat. Don Cheadle, who played Chase in the original 1959 film, has a minor role here, which is a nice bit of trivia. You feel like you get to know the residents of the town, but they’re about as interesting as you might expect a remote mid-west town to be. Combined with the sub-par acting,
As mentioned, one of the reasons to remake a film might be to produce a film using a larger budget, but this is about as low-budget as the original. The money clearly went on two things: the first is renting some 1950′s era cars, which do look authentic, but they look way too clean, and they obviously can’t do any stunts or anything risky with them, meaning we simply see them driving up the same straight road for the majority of the time they’re on screen. Secondly, the lizard is pure CGI, and even by 2012 standards, it looks absolutely terrible. It’s running animation is so comically bad as it lifts each foot up into the air I don’t know how anyone thought it looked good. There’s at least a few 50′s era songs to help set the scene, and some “new” songs of the era made for the film too. Overall, Gila! feels like a pointless remake that barely changes anything from the original. The story is all over the place and has plenty of plotholes, the characters don’t stand out too much, and any attempts to flesh out their characters are often marred by poor acting. The atrocious CGI for the lizard means that you won’t be taking this too seriously. It may be good for a laugh, but Gila! is pretty bad, especially when you consider it mostly just copies the original with no attempt to innovate.