We rented this movie through cable on-demand because we wanted something fun on in the background while we signed and personalized copies of our Steampunk anthology. However, the first few scenes were too arresting, so we turned it off and went back to it when we had time to actually watch the film with our full attention. We’re glad we did. The Great Yokai War tells the fascinating story of an evil sorcerer (?) who is fashioning a kind of world-conquering machine that feeds off of the essence of various traditional Japanese spirits and mythological creatures. A boy finds himself in the unlikely role of hero in trying to help stop this wholesale torture/slaughter, and in the process tries to save the world.
Many of the special effects involving blue screens have a cheesy feel to them, but the director’s choice to put most of the monsters and spirits in actual physical costumes helps ground the movie in some imaginative, grotesque, and beautiful images. Yes, the plot is a little bit wonky, but when you see all of the weird spirit-things marching on Tokyo…it’s kinda breath-taking.