Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Ed Quinn, Pascale Hutton, Cindy Busby, William B. Davis
Directed by David Hogan
This is a review I’ve written too many times before, and I suspect I’ll continue to find myself writing it many more times in the future. Considering Syfy generally premieres two new movies a month, I usually watch and review about 75% of those original movies, and taking into account their track record of quality, I’d guesstimate that I’ve written some variation of what I’m about to say in this review about ten times just last year alone. I personally like b-movies, especially b-monster movies, of which Syfy is currently the biggest purveyor, and I’m really sick of writing reviews of these movies that require me to repeatedly use words such as “bland”, “banal”, “stale”, “lame”, “dull”, “tedious”, “boring”, “perfunctory”, “formulaic”, “by-the-numbers”, and so on. Note how many of those words appear in this review.
I really do feel sorry for many of the people that make Syfy movies because they’re put in what amounts to a no-win situation. Between the budgetary limitations and even more limited shooting schedule and the thousand little creative rules Syfy requires its filmmakers to adhere to, making a genuinely good film, even by b-movie standards, is a near impossibility. And if they just say “screw it” and embrace the sheer stupidity of it all by setting out to make a total cheesefest, even then overcoming the restrictions placed upon them is a thankless task, and even if it does entertain on that level, that level is not exactly going to garner them much by way of respectability.
Behemoth is yet another example of an underfunded Syfy monster movie with ambitions that far outstretch its meager budget and whose characters and storyline are too stale to overcome the lack of exciting money shots. The characters are all cookie-cutter, their actions formulaic, and their words perfunctory. According to IMDB the budget was in the neighborhood of $1.3 million. That sounds low even by Syfy standards and is an insanely low budget when setting out to make a movie about a GIANT MONSTER that erupts from a VOLCANO to DESTROY THE WORLD.
Behemoth wants to be “Super Tremors“. At least that’s what it could have been with a bigger budget and a more lively script. This one doesn’t strive for camp, admirable up to a point. That point being the drudgery of dullness brought on by a lack of suspense or excitement. Things do percolate for a few moments here and there but then slip right back into monotony. Sad thing is this isn’t even that bad of a movie. It looks good visually. The special effects are above average by Syfy standards. Kind of a shame, actually.
Again, as is too often the case, Syfy’s budget simply does not allow for what you want from a movie about a giant monster the size of a mountain awakening from a dormant volcano to destroy civilization (unless lots of running around the woods is what you look for in such a movie). A giant monster eyeball appears here, a monster head rises out of the earth there, and the infrequent tentacle pops out from the mountain to do less than an impotent hentai monster. When we finally do see this behemoth in all its glory in the closing moments, it doesn’t get to do much besides sit atop a mountain to await getting killed off in a manner that makes this potential world-ending monstrosity appear even wimpier than the Roland Emmerich Godzilla. The whole movie ends up being nothing but one long build-up to an anti-climax.
Still not entirely sure how this apocalyptic monster was supposed to be a threat to the very future of the human race when it couldn’t even successfully kill four unarmed people running about the side of a mountain.
Sitting in the shadow of monster mountain is the sleepy little woodland town of Ascension. If you live in a town called Ascension, you’re just begging for some major metaphysical crap to threaten you. Earthquakes are rocking all over the planet and all geologic evidence points to the epicenter being dead center in Ascension. Or should I say, under Ascension.
Who can save us?
How about a handsomely bland lumberjack, an attractively bland seismologist lady, the bland lumberjack’s blandly cute sister and her blandly dorky boyfriend, and the bland seismologist lady’s father, the town’s bland sheriff? Bland mystery leads to bland romance leads to bland catastrophe. The blandness of it all did not appear to be lost on “Eureka” co-star Ed Quinn; his handsomely bland lumberjack sounds so disinterested that if his performance became any more wooden, he’d probably try to chop himself down.
The only not bland character is that of William B. Davis as the father of the handsomely bland lumberjack and the blandly cute sister. Davis may be most famous as the diabolical Cigarette Smoking Man on “The X-Files”, but here he’s more like an elderly Fox Mulder suffering from the early stages of dementia. A senile professor who believes in tales of a doomsday monster of ancient lore that destroys societies when they’re on the brink of destroying themselves and the rest of the world around them or something along those lines; everybody merely dismisses his warnings as insane hooey. But, of course, if there is one thing Hollywood has taught us in recent years, the most paranoid, delusional, nonsensical, rambling conspiracy theorist is always the smartest guy in the room. I’ve reached the point where I’d love to see one of these movies have the crazy guy turns out to be so dead wrong that his theories nearly prove fatal to everyone that gives his words any credence.
The most annoying aspect of Davis’ crackpot character is that when his crazy theories prove true and his prophesized monster truly makes its presence known, where is this all-knowing expert in giant world-destroying monsters of lore? Trapped with a young waitress in the town diner after an earthquake buries them. Shouldn’t his character be on the frontlines of the monster-fighting action since the whole movie has been built around his crazy theories being proven true instead of having him sidelined for the entire third act trying to keep this girl calm as they look for a way out of the rubble?
Why in the hell are we even expected to care if this insignificant waitress lives or dies? There are like seven characters more pertinent to the plot that the script has failed to make me care about one way or another and now I’m supposed give a damn about this young waitress’ well being. I’m shocked the script didn’t toss in the ultimate cliché and have her pregnant and going into labor.
2 out of 5
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