LeviathanJuly 11th, 2011 |
I figured while we’re waiting for the comic to continue, I’d continue my run of “Stupid Awesome” movie reviews. Now remember… These movies are by default “stupid” but they’re watchably awesome in thier stupidity.
I’ve been critical of James Cameron in the past, to the point that I’m sure many of you probably think I hate his movies. Well, I’m not fond of a lot of them, but his undersea documentaries I think are utterly beautiful, and I consider his 1989 movie ‘The Abyss’ his best movie. I really love it. Now what’s interesting is that in ‘89, the Abyss was not the first, but the SIXTH film in a slew of movies with the premise “Help, I’m trapped underwater and there’s a monster down here with me!” Cameron’s just happens to be the best of them. The others are honestly subpar. ‘DeepStar Six’ had laughably bad special effects, I don’t even remember ‘Lords of the Deep’ and the others I had to check Wikipedia to get the names. But there’s one that stands above those others that truly earns the title… Stupid-Awesome. Ladies and Gentlemen… ‘Leviathan’!
Okay, right of the bat, this movie is one of many rip-offs of Alien. You know the set up. Future setting, seven member crew (five men, two women), a shifty doctor with a questionable past, a corporate guy who’s heart’s in the right place, big cool black guy, ect. They get a call to check out an abandoned derelict on behalf of the company, and end up bringing a monster on board, which proceeds to kill everyone, one by one, until it’s down to one or two people. The monster is a genetic alteration, which after it kills people, it absorbs their memories, so it’s kind of like ‘John Carpenter’s The Thing’ as well. It’s very formulaic in it’s construction. You know who dies and in what order they’re going to die in. It holds no real surprises. You know the alcoholic’s gonna buy it first, and then the doctor’s gonna do something that’ll make escape impossible, and the cool black guy sacrifices his life to save the others, and he’s usually near the last to die. The corporation is ‘eeeeeevil’ and wants to doom them all. By the way, as an aside, how overdone is the evil corporation shtick? How exactly do you package and market evil? “Oooooooh! Big Guns and Big Pharmaceuticals are bad, man!” Because you know, soldiers can use harsh language and antibiotics are bad for you. Just once, for a change of pace, I’d love to see the evil corporation be a major manufacturer of wind turbines or hydroponic wheatgrass. I will give this movie credit though, in that the company didn’t want to retrieve the monster for some ‘bio-weapons’ division. They just wanted it to be destroyed. (They were just willing to sacrifice the crew to do it.)
But here’s the two things that makes Leviathan stand out from the others. It’s production values are pretty decent. Nothing ever really looks like a model or a cheap rubber suit. (With heavy exception of when you finally see the monster at the end. You’re kind of laughing, because you’ve seen more convincing Power Ranger monsters.) And the other is who they got to star in this movie. We have Peter Weller, Richard Crenna, Daniel Stern, Meg Foster (and her cool eyes), and Winston Zeddemore himself, Ernie Hudson! Holy crap, how have more people not heard of this movie! That’s almost a geek battalion right the hell there! We also have Amanda Pays, who played Tina McGee on the old Flash TV show. Her British accent’s so freakin’ hot, the movie could just be an hour and a half of her reading a phone book, and I’d be content. (I could go off for a long period of time about how hot she is, but this would really quickly go from being pathetic to just plain creepy.) Generally the characters are well likable enough, especially Ernie Hudson’s character. However, Meg Foster’s character, as the company spokeswoman is so obviously evil. She’s like secreting underhandedness. It’s almost on a smarmy Doctor Doom level.
Okay granted, Leviathan is not high art. It’s formulaic. There’s built in cap to how good it can actually be. If they had actually broken away from the formula, it might have really been a good film. Simple little things, like had Meg Foster’s character not been a “heartless corporate shill” or if Ernie Hudson’s character could have survived and not die, as per the “black guy always buys it” trope. (Seriously, he’s the coolest character in this movie. But that’s probably because Ernie Hudson may be the coolest person period.) It would not have changed the context or direction of the story. In fact, it might have been somewhat revolutionary for it’s time. But unfortunately, it follows that formula to a tee, and I think it suffers for it too.
But as it is, it’s stupid but kind of fun. I don’t know if I can call it awesome, but I can’t exactly say it’s bad either. It’s a Diet Alien. It’s made with aspartame, so it’s like the original, but tastes kind of funny and not all that filling. But at like just over 90 minutes, it a decent rip-off. Which is more than I can say for the majority of the sequels to Alien. Next time, I’ll go into a wonderful piece of crap barbarian movie, starring Caine from Kung Fu, and not much else.