Thursday, December 8, 2011

In short: Rage of the Yeti (2011)

Billionaire Mills (actor turned director of this thing David Hewlett in a series of smug cameos) hires a bunch of idiots (actor names redacted to protect the guilty) to rescue another bunch of idiots (names also redacted) who got into trouble trying to steal an old Chinese codex from a Canadian Arctic island.

The book came to the island via the wreck of British ship carrying crap the Chinese emperor didn't care for and so loaded off onto the British (no, really, that's the backstory). Alas, besides the book, there was also a group of Yeti on the ship (yup, they were other crap the Emperor didn't care for). The creatures survived the wreck and have somehow managed to eke out a living from the barren wasteland they were stranded on, so that their descendants can now threaten - and hopefully eat - both bunches of idiots.

As if being dumb and having Yeti trouble weren't enough, our heroes also have to cope with traitors working for another billionaire in dire need of a codex among them, as well as the fact that their own billionaire wants his own life yeti once he realizes those are available.

I think I may have made my general position about the SyFy [sic] Channel's movie productions already clear. I have probably used terms like "crap", "not fun", "not funny", "lazy writing", "certainly not as clever as it thinks it is" and "painfully bad CG effects" when I did, so colour me somewhat surprised when I realized that I was kinda-sorta okay with this one.

Sure, Rage of the Yeti's script has all the originality and depth of something put together during the course of thirty minutes (and probably put down on a paper napkin), but unlike a lot of other SyFy movies I've seen, it's decently paced - for once in one of these films, we actually start in medias res and don't really stop for long until it is over -, and shows a sense of fun. Sometimes, that sense of fun goes a bit too much in the direction of the loathsome "we know this is crap, but it's all, like, ironic, man" I still blame on Wes Craven's Scream movies, but more often than not, the film gives the impression of being written by people doing their best to throw cool shit on screen because they actually want to entertain their audience with a decent monster movie, instead of promising things they aren't then willing to deliver.

David Hewlett's direction is basically okay. He doesn't have much of a visual imagination, his action direction is pretty pedestrian, and he seems to have a thing for his own - and other people's - feet that reminds me disturbingly of Doris Wishman, but there's not much truly wrong with anything he does. Well, except for the foot thing. This puts Hewlett above most of the directors (except for Tibor Takacs) slaving away for SyFy, and about on par with your typical point-and-shooter, so I'm not going to complain.

Rage of the Yeti's major downside are clearly its special effects, with the expected boring and ugly monster design (what's with the teeth?), as well as the usual lack of physicality of everything on display. I am, however, willing to overlook crappy effects in a film like this that is working hard at wringing some excitement out of them, for that is all I ever ask of a low budget monster movie.


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