Saturday, December 1, 2012

In short: Amphibious 3D (2010)

It's impossible for me not to admire Brian Yuzna for the tenaciousness he shows when it comes to getting films financed. After his luck in the US ran out, he went to Spain. After that went dry, he took his leave to Indonesia. And if he then needs to take some money and some horrible actors from the Netherlands on, too, to make a SyFy Channel style monster movie, he'll do it. Movies need to be made, after all, and they're still rather difficult to crowdsource.

Unlike actual SyFy Channel films, Yuzna's attempt at the genre even shows some ambition. Consequently, this isn't just a film about a charming rogue without the charming (Michael Paré, who will sit out important parts of the movie and could have been replaced by a cheaper actor with an equal lack of facial expressions to have more money for the effects) and a marine biologist named Skylar (Janna Fassaert) encountering an amphibious giant scorpion in the surroundings of a fishing platform, but also one where the marine biologist once lost her little daughter and is now merrily projecting onto the child (Monica Sayangbati) of a black magician in indentured fishing slavery. Plus, there are hints of a more mythological background to the whole giant underwater scorpion thing.

Unfortunately, despite its ambitions for being more than the most basic of films, and a surprisingly effective horror movie shock ending, Amphibious spends most of its time going through the motions of all monster films that can only afford showing their monsters for the grand finale, which is to say it spends most of its time with various heavily accented people talking and talking with some sparse scenes of gore thrown in so you don't fall asleep. While I do appreciate Yuzna's attempts at making these non-monster scenes more interesting than usual in this sort of thing, I can't say he actually succeeds at that effort. When it's not the sloppy pacing of the film, it's the mediocre and boring acting - scenery chewers or good actors could have saved a lot here - that gets in the way, and if it's not the acting, it's Yuzna's inability to sell subtlety or ambiguity through his direction. As a director, he never did subtlety well, and that clearly hasn't changed with his ever decreasing budgets.

Once the film gets to the (not very good) giant scorpion in plain sight and the rather ridiculous attempts to fight it, it does become rather fun to watch. Unfortunately fifteen fun minutes hardly make up for over an hour of boredom and character arcs that never go anywhere, as much as I wish it were otherwise.

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