Monday, August 18, 2008

Alien Lockdown/Creature (USA, 2004)

(Trailer) Tim Cox's fourth film, Larva (2005), is what brought me to this film, his third. Larva was a fairly decent and fast-paced B-film that may have offered nothing new but was nonetheless well made and gave the viewer a darn-tooting good ride. Good enough for me to note the director’s name as one to look for, so when I stumbled upon this title, I scooped it up to see whether or not Cox was a one-shot wonder or whether he was capable of multiple spurts of filmic creativity. And, what do you know: Creature, the good man’s third film, might not offer as titillating a ride as his fourth, but Cox does indeed appear to be a genre movie director of impressive promise, for once again he delivers a highly derivative B-film that offers nothing new but is nonetheless well made and even delivers a darn-tooting good ride. OK, Creature might be 7½ inches in comparison to Larva's 9, but does it really matter all that much after 6?
Originally entitled Alien Lockdown in the USA, where it was made for and broadcast on television, the flick was re-titled Creature for its European DVD release. Both titles are fitting, as the flick is about a creature of alien origins (re)created as the ultimate war weapon that is locked down within an ultra-secure and top secret science lab buried deep in the Rocky Mountain glaciers after it wakes up and kills everyone there but for its creator Dr. Woodman (John Savage) and some other guy named Charlie Dryfus (James Marshall). A group of mercenaries is sent in by some governmental organization on a “clean-up operation,” but they, of course, prove no match for the creature and its brood of its flesh-eating tadpoles... with the exception, that is, of the emotionally scarred Asian-American babe Talon (Michelle Goh). The film actually begins millions of years ago when some alien crystal crashes onto the earth, a plot device that is primarily used to fill the first 15 minutes of the flick with a totally useless prologue that could be comparable to bad foreplay (think of someone with no bodily appendages or tongue doing his best) before the Cox takes his characters deep into the black hole and finally hits the right rhythm, a rhythm he manages to keep for the rest of the film. (In that sense, in Creature, Cox is comparable perhaps to a man who has 15 minutes of trouble getting it up, but once up, doesn't stop.)
The direction is much better than the material. Cox has a good eye for angles and balance, and even knows how to properly use both tracking shots and editing; and if the CGI sometimes is a bit cheesy, the use of sound and filters is well done and effective. The acting is surprisingly effective across the board, with the possible exception of character actor Martin Kove; in his brief appearances as Anslow, the dickhead director of the governmental agency, he comes across more like a macho Elton John with hemorrhoids than like a top-level and dangerous military director. And if most of the tertiary alien-fodder isn’t all that memorable once the flick is over, the various thespians have enough talent to at least be obviously different characters within the flick itself. (But whatever you do, kids, don’t give up that day job yet.) John Savage, of course, steals the show whenever he opens his mouth: he overacts wonderfully, treating the trashy script as if it were written by Shakespeare. (Indeed, if there is any actor today that looks to be destined to eventually take John Carradine's (still empty) place as the Shakespearean actor of bad film, John Savage is that man. Much like Brad Dourif, Savage is always a highly talented but fun presence doomed to a career of genre film.) Michelle Goh fails a bit when it comes to showing emotion, but she kicks but convincingly enough and does look hot running around in that black leather outfit. She doesn’t do a nude scene, but hell, the film was made for television (where, as you well know, to ensure that our young ones aren’t corrupted, blood&guts&violence is OK, but nekkid skin is not). Even James Marshall, as the apparent nice guy of the flick, proves that he has learned to do a bit more than just act like a moody James Dean imitation (as he did back in Twin Peaks (1990-1991)).
As mentioned before, there is nothing new to be found in Creature, but at least all that is regurgitated is done so well that the flick remains an enjoyably wasted 88 minutes. Of course, you could just go ahead and watch Predator (1987) again, or Aliens (1986), but damn, haven't you seen them enough already? Face it, sometimes a Beck's Lime is a needed alternative to a Beck's. Expect a well-made but derivative B-film and you'll have a fun viewing experience...

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The movie described is not the "Creature" (from 1984) which features Klaus Kinski and zero Asian characters. Unfortunately, it's pretty bad, an exercise in tedium. I think it was the basis for the extremely long introductory scene in Wim Wenders' "The State of Things."

Bryin Abraham said...

Uh, I guess I sorta forgot to mention that I wasn't writing about the Klaus Kinski film... but I am sure the intro scene to "the Stae of Things" is rather tedious as well – Wenders's films often are.

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