Bats: Human Harvest (DVD)
Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring David Chokachi, Michael Jace, Pollyanna McIntosh, Martin Papazian, Melissa De Sousa, Tomas Arana
Directed by Jamie Dixon
Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
The makers of Bats: Human Harvest have done the impossible: they've made a sequel to Bats that's actually worse than the original. In nothing else, at least the original had a few set pieces where you could see the promise a nature gone amok movie about military-engineered killer bats on the loose could have held. You'll see none of that promise this time out. This time the bats are really more of a subplot, eventually even taking a backseat to the lousy human villains. Bats: Human Harvest is such a coma-inducing dud that I actually came away with a newfound appreciation for the original Bats. That's about the worst reaction this film could have produced.
I'm going to go out on a limb, take a wild guess, and speculate that there were some major changes made to this film's script before shooting began. The reason why is because every bit of info I've come across has always described the plot as follows:
"Set in present day Afghanistan, the sequel centers on a group of soldiers who endeavor to capture Fazul, a fanatical terrorist who has escaped into the maze of caves underlying the landscape of the country. As the troops spelunk, they encounter one major obstacle: genetically altered bats programmed to seek out flesh and consume it."
Except the movie I just watched was set in a Russian forest; not a cave in sight and instead of a fanatical terrorist named Fazul there was an angry scientist and some Chechen rebels. My personal guess: when they settled on filming in Bulgaria - the Sci-Fi Channel original movie world capital it would seem - the producers realized there was no way to pass-off Bulgarian forests for the rocky, desert terrain of Afghanistan and, thus, a major, possibly page one rewrite was ordered.
Taking place almost entirely in the Belzan Forest of Russia, a forest described by the Russians as impenetrable, so much satellite imaging is useless, American Special Forces soldiers are sent in to "extract" an AWOL military weapons scientist with sensitive information that could prove dangerous if it were to fall into the wrong hands, specifically nogoodnicks from Chechnya. The Belzan forest happens to be swarming with genetically-engineered, flesh-eating, super bats and it’s been booby trapped by a certain bad guy using a myriad of high tech gadgetry to monitor the forest for intruders to send the bats after.
Joining the American soldiers is a Russian born CIA agent who, given her overdone Russian accent, might as well have been named Natasha. There's also the matter of Russian soldiers also lurking about and the last thing the US military wants is a clash between the two. Both sets of soldiers are supposed to be the best of the best, a notion I found quite comical given how unbelievably inept both sides came across. The American soldiers seemed more suited for a spirited game of paintball and the bumbling Russian soldier comic relief moments brought back bad childhood memories of the Oktober Guard from the old G.I. Joe cartoon.
The lone bright spot is "The Shield"'s Michael Jace, the only actor in the whole movie who doesn't just come across like someone playing soldier. I found myself wishing he was the star of the film instead of bland ex-"Baywatch" dude David Chokachi as one of those loose cannon soldiers that only exist in the movies because in real-life they end up either dead, discharged, or in the stockade for insubordination. Being that Jace handles himself so well and commands the screen, naturally, he gets killed off very early on ... and not even by the bats, either.
The bats eat meat and can devour a person like swarming piranhas, something they rarely do in this movie. Virtually every bat encounter consists of the actors motioning like they're being attacked by a swarm of killer bees while surrounded by a flurry of blurry, bat-shaped, computerized images. Soldiers will randomly shoot into the air at them; a hit results in a digital bat exploding like a red paintball splatter. Maybe if this were some sort of interactive video game and I had a light gun with which I could take a few shots of my own at the swarming bats then the repetitious nature of all this might not have proved so monotonous.
The bats also possess chameleon-like qualities that allow them to blend in with their surroundings, another neat idea that the film rarely does anything with. One moment they can sever a person's limb with a single fly-by yet most of the time they'll just flap around en masse only sporadically attempting to attack. Their viciousness appeared to get downplayed as the film went along until by the end the bats seemed more of a hazardous nuisance than the ravenous killing machines they're supposed to be.
Ninety lifeless minutes of characters I've no interest in skulking about a drab-looking forest shooting at other characters I care even less about or skulking about this lifeless forest and shooting at or getting attacked by digital bats that look about as menacing as the bats I used to see hanging around The Count on "Sesame Street"; all of it without a single nuance of thrills or excitement. I simply cannot fathom anyone out there being genuinely entertained by it.
If you want some more punishment, though I can't imagine why, there's a few deleted scenes to check out. They suck too.
It's depressing really; people wasted precious time of their short lives to make this movie in order for people like myself to waste precious time of our short lives watching it. Life's too short to waste on useless movies like this.
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
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