Saturday, August 29, 2015

SyFy vs. The Mynd: Riddles of the Sphinx (2008)

Of course, having decided to return to my irregular habit of taking a walk back through the SyFy Original catalogue from time to time, I begin by watching a movie so bad, it could have been improved mightily by not having been made at all, so the universe stays cruel instead of just indifferent.

Riddles of the Sphinx, as directed by one George Mendeluk - who I try not to call a hack because rudeness is wrong even in the face of a deeply shitty film - concerns the adventures of Dina Meyer whose character isn’t supposed to be a Lara Croft rip-off, oh no, and Lochlyn Munro who just happens to dress just like that New Mexico Smith guy, as well as of Munro’s character’s obnoxious, all-knowing teenage daughter. There’s a bit about a secret government agency, the threat of the Plague of Isis™ coming to destroy our planet, crappy dimension portals leading to really crappy riddles (and yes, there’s even a variation of that one whose adaptation in the film clearly suggests somebody got his Christian and Ancient Egyptian virtues mixed up writing this crap), Mackenzie Gray playing a character whose baldness clearly demonstrates he’s going to turn out to be evil and other nonsense that could have turned out rather entertaining in other hands (Paul Ziller’s, say) but is here presented with all the verve and charm of something completely without verve and charm (a trashcan?).

There’s just no minute on screen when the film actually commits to entertaining its audience. Instead it is going through the motions in a way I found incredibly annoying, bringing up silly ideas without ever seeing the potential in them, thinking nothing through, and not making up for any of this by any morsel of visual excitement, or just even mild interesting-ness. Obviously, a SyFy budget also doesn’t lend itself too well to a globe trotting adventure (something many other SyFy movies solve by having the Apocalypse take place in Kansas), so expect (or if you’re clever – avoid) really bad CGI not only with the film’s titular monster (which everyone involved must have been so embarrassed about, it’s more often than not replaced by its “human form”, a big guy with Halloween fake teeth in his mouth), but also coming into play for all the places the characters visit that can’t be replaced by two tiny locations in British Columbia.

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