Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Colin Ferguson, Yancy Butler, Michael Ironside, Kirsty Mitchell, Kasey Barnfield
Directed by G.E. Furst
The quirky nature of its script and a potty-mouthed Betty White were the only things I felt elevated the original 1999 Lake Placid film above middling. It’s been three years since Syfy trotted out the first unnecessary sequel, of which all I can recall are an exceptionally bad performance by John Schneider and the word “lame” echoing about my head. Now here’s Lake Placid 3. Damned if I know why. The title must still have some market value to someone. Calling it Primeval 2 would make little difference.
The best to be said for Lake Placid 3 is that it is considerably better than Lake Placid 2 (review here). So are root canals. Now just because I’ve said that 3 is better than 2 doesn’t mean anyone should get it in their heads to go make a 4.
The first thing that occurred to me from the opening scene was that I have watched entirely too many Syfy original movies. The very instant I first saw the lake setting, I knew immediately they had filmed it all in Bulgaria. I have seen that lake, those woods, that scenic setting in so many Syfy original movies I can spot it right off the bat now. A quick trip to IMDB confirmed my suspicion.
Colin Ferguson of Syfy’s “Eureka” stars as a biologist related to the crocodile-feeding old biddy from Lake Placid 2 who served as a stand-in for foul-mouthed Betty White from Lake Placid. He has just moved his family into her lakeside home, and sure enough, there are still voracious crocodiles lurking in the lake.
The first two both had malevolent old ladies that loved their crocodiles more than the people they ate. No vulgar grannies this time, just a dumb kid secretly feeding the crocs packets of supermarket meat for two straight years. This could have been a perfect opportunity to take things into a darkly comic direction a la an old Eighties creature feature you may or may not have heard of called The Pit. That monster movie had a sinister kid discover a pit in the woods home to hungry troglodytes; he would lure unsuspecting people he didn’t like to the hole and knock them in to feed his pets. I honestly thought that might be where Lake Placid 3 was heading. Instead he just turns out to be a spoiled kid feeling lonely who really digs reptiles and feels really sorry later when the crocs he had kept hidden start eating everybody. I cannot tell you how much I wanted to see those crocs using that brat’s torso as a wishbone.
Then there’s the usual assortment of attractive college kids looking for a good time that movies such as this are now legally required by law to include. The ones that aren’t douchebags are whiny. The ones that aren’t douchebags or whiny don’t live long enough to establish much of a personality.
The lone bright spot of this toothless sequel is Yancy Butler’s game hunter and her two personality traits: surly and extra surly. Colin Ferguson is so much just playing his “Eureka” character they could have made this an episode of that show where an experiment gone wrong zaps him into a Syfy original movie. Michael Ironside – when you can find a way to let Michael Ironside go to waste, you’ve done wrong. Butler, however, is making the most of what she’s been given and out-chews the crocs when it comes to scenery. Kind of says something that the only likable character in the whole film is Yancy Butler and her character is supposed to be an asshole. Had the focus been more on her, they may have had something, but she’s merely a supporting character that spends far too much time on the sidelines waiting to be actively included in the story.
I don’t blame the actors. I don’t blame the director. I don’t blame the writers. All of them are trying in futility to make this film work. The problem is, regardless, they are still making Lake Placid 3. When the uncut version (whose artwork we borrowed for this review) hits DVD shelves in October, there will more gore and gratuitous nudity not included in the Syfy cut I viewed. All well and good, but even with such exploitive elements Lake Placid 3 refuses to go all-out like a good exploitation movie should. A character comes charging with a chainsaw to fight the big croc, and the payoff is that chainsaw being used more to hack open a locked door in order for the person wielding it to seek refuge inside a house than actually using it to hack up a hungry croc. That alone tells me that either the budget wasn’t there to bring to life such a blissfully b-movie moment or the producers had the makers creatively shackled – or both.
Worse, the producers wanted to make a Lake Placid 3 loaded with croc attacks while skimping on the budget necessary to make the CGI crocodiles look like anything other than unpolished CGI. The physical texture of the computerized crocs is often too smooth, lacking detail, like unfinished digital effects. It takes you out of the action almost every time they go on the attack.
How many crocodiles were there anyway? Both I and the movie appeared to lose count. Their size seemed to change at will as well. Those inconsistencies I found much less annoying than how lightning fast they would fatally strike when attacking minor characters; yet, when face-to-snout with primary characters they would let an easy instant kill elude them. It’s as if the crocs knew which characters they were allowed to devour in the blink of an eye and which they were supposed to give a fighting chance or a head start to escape. I’d have given the film an extra half point if they would have just let one of the crocs eat that stupid kid.
2 out of 5
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