As a smarter man than I said “reality has an annoying left-wing bias”, and certain groups with money and power don’t like that. So schools get de-skilled and de-funded, and we’re left with a population with no critical thinking skills that believes in Bigfoot and Yeti and all those ridiculous fantasy creatures. No matter how many seasons the “Hunting X” shows get, and NEVER FIND ANYTHING, the faith never wavers.
If this weird, pointless obsession produced good entertainment, then I’d be less upset I guess (at least there are genuinely great zombie movies), but all we get in the giant monkey-like creature arena is the occasional funny segment on “The Soup” and stuff like “Rage Of The Yeti”, a SyFy Channel original movie, one from the era of getting people from their TV shows to make an appearance.
The guy in this is David Hewlett, from “Stargate Atlantis” and he’s Mills, an eccentric billionaire who’s after a Codex (a fancy book, basically). It contains the only written evidence of the Yeren, the Chinese take on the Yeti, and after disappearing in the 1800s aboard a boat bound from China to Europe, thawing ice reveals it in the far Arctic North of Canada. He’s sent a team out there to retrieve it, but they happen to run into a real pack of Yeren and are getting sliced up, so he has to send in a second team to rescue the first team.
That’s your plot, really. The big name of the first team is Yancy Butler, of “Witchblade” and “Lake Placid: The Final Chapter” fame; and the big name of the second is David Chokachi, formerly of “Baywatch” and featured by the ISCFC before in “The 3 Musketeers” and “Atlantic Rim”. She’s a steady hand, but Chokachi almost single-handedly saves the movie – he and his brother (Matthew Kevin Anderson) are constantly wisecracking, and play the part of cool rogues to the hilt.
The special effects are really bad in this one. To create the Yeren, it appears that the CGI guy just found a pre-existing gorilla animation, altered the face a bit and turned it white – done! They have no weight, and just float along the surface or wherever they happen to be, which is tolerable when there’s a lot of snow in shot (it does appear they filmed in a real snowstorm, at least briefly) but just looks awful when one of them is inside. They at least filmed somewhere with a lot of real snow, I suppose.
“Rage of the Yeti” is a whisker from being a straight comedy film, though. At one point, Chokachi shows his team members an advert for the super-gun he’s carrying, which is a tubby man on a tropical beach with two beautiful women firing it and being thrown backwards; the Stargate cast member says “if only I had a Stargate” at one point; every other line from Chokachi or Anderson is a joke; and there’s definitely a sense that the people involved in making this were exactly aware of how cheesy it all was.
Which sadly doesn’t excuse it being rubbish. As well as being the wacky billionaire, David Hewlett directed this, but appears to have inserted himself in at the last minute – even when he’s supposed to be sharing a scene he’s green-screened. He’s desperate for the team to trap him a Yeren, but even though they don’t manage that, there’s a ton of dead ones knocking about, which would do almost as well. Plus, the Yeren are indestructible, until the plot needs them not to be – and some of them are suicidal, running into plane engines or wrestling helicopters in flight. One of the women from the second team is there at the beginning, then there’s a couple of scenes where she’s covered her entire face in a scarf, then she dies off screen and although we see her corpse, we never see her face. Did she quit a few days into filming?
It feels half-finished, is my best guess. There are segments that feel like they’re missing scenes (at least one scene right at the beginning, and the medical rescue of one of the team), and the Yeren special effects look like those “before” shots you see in special effects documentaries. Hewlett’s scenes have a whiff of improvisation about them, like maybe again he filmed himself as a placeholder and then the guy he hired never came through. It’s peculiar, and despite a couple of performances from Chokachi and Anderson that really try to save the movie (plus Laura Haddock, who’s giving it her all) it has all sorts of weird rough edges. And a truly spectacular example of “haha all our friends are dead” to wrap things up.
Rating: thumbs in the middle