You know you need a break from SyFy movies when, over breakfast the next morning, you’re discussing the movie with your wife (or whoever, this is me I’m talking about here) and neither of you can remember if a thing that happened was from last night’s, or the other SyFy one you watched a couple of nights ago. Although the details have gradually come back to me, it’s still not a good sign.
What we have here is yet another in the very long list of movies that rip off “Alien”, “Aliens” or “Predator”, with the very slightly original idea of ripping off all three at the same time. Ten thousand years ago, a meteor hit the Earth, containing at its heart a “beautiful” blue gem (well, a lump of what appears to be badly moulded plastic, but let’s not split hairs). It’s got amazing powers that we’re sadly told about rather than shown, and kingdoms change hands to get control of it – which leads to the conclusion “can’t be that powerful if no-one can keep hold of it, surely?” Anyway, at some point it gets put in a fancy box and buried, which brings us to the present day and a group of people digging in some unspecified Middle Eastern country. Although not for long, because a weird alien movie set in a Middle Eastern country would be a moderately interesting idea and we can’t have any of those!
The actual location for most of the “action” is a science base in the Rocky Mountain glacier. This is due, apparently, to it being close to the magnetic core of the Earth – no-one told the scriptwriter that mountains tend to be further away from the core of the Earth than, say, the bottom of the ocean, but never mind that. The scientists who found the gem are able to crack its DNA code with the help of an imprisoned hacker, and then decide to create, for reasons which are vague at best and downright suicidal at worst, the ultimate predator. Skin like steel, virtually impervious to any attack, smart, quiet, and very hungry. It looks like a chap in a rubber suit, which is what it is, the effect isn’t terrible but the execution sort-of is.
The cast is, once again, chock full of nonentities (almost literally, in some cases, half the cast don’t speak and are just there to be cannon fodder). Martin Kove, veteran of more cheap genre movies than I’ve had hot dinners, is the obviously evil General who sends his team of soldiers to the base to kill the creature, and he’s the biggest name, I suppose; although mad scientist John Savage (“The Deer Hunter”) was once a pretty big deal too. Poor Savage wanders through the movie as if he was drunk and had just been pulled off the street to act, and has some properly odd line deliveries. The head of the army team is “Talon”, and she’s played by Michelle Goh, whose brief career stopped around the time this was released. Perhaps she kept getting hired by people who wanted the fantastic Michelle Yeoh (much like I imagine Chris Evans the awful TV host gets invited to things intended for Chris Evans the actor) and eventually they wised up to it? She’s really not very good, although the bit where she gives the full “this is my last mission, then I’m out for good” speech is a lot of fun. Oh, and there’s James Marshall from “Twin Peaks” as the hacker, but he’s so awful I wanted to go and slap David Lynch for bringing him to the world’s attention. Basically, it’s a group of people you either don’t care about or actively despise getting gradually torn to pieces by an Alien/Predator clone in a badly lit science facility (seriously, we’ve all seen real actual labs on TV. How many of them were murkily lit?) Because you get no real characterisation and the sets all look exactly the same, it’s really difficult to care about a substantial part of the movie.
I’ll say it again, turn a light on, people. I blame director Avram Cox, who did a few SyFy movies before getting hired for SyFy / Asylum co-production “Z Nation” last year – good on him for staying in the business when it appeared no-one wanted him, I suppose. It’s an early-ish Nu Image production, the people who emerged from the ashes of Cannon and now do “The Expendables”, “Olympus Has Fallen” and other such entertainments, and while I’m sure SyFy were pleased with it being the right length, in the right aspect ratio and with no obvious glaring technical flaws, I can’t imagine anyone who watched this was pleased at all. They clearly tried to make their money, releasing it under three names – the one above, “Creature” and “PredatorMan”. The monster is also referred to as “Legion” at one point, which seems pretty dumb considering there’s only one of it, but I bet that was going to be an alternate title too. Never change, low-budget movie people.
Lastly, let’s not forget the script, which asks Goh to say the word “philosophical” even though she’s clearly unable to (it comes out as “phil-go-sophi-tal”). Oh, and the music, which feels like it was lifted from a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Heck, if they played up that bonkers stuff, I’d have enjoyed it a heck of a lot more.
Rating: thumbs down