Monster Ark (2008)
Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Renee O'Connor, Tim DeKay, Tiny Lister, Amanda Crew, Bill Parks, Carlos Leon
Directed by Declan O'Brien
God had Noah build a second ark to deal with an evil creature of such immense evil that even the Great Flood couldn't destroy it; now the location of that ark has been discovered and the monster unwittingly unleashed.
Such a great premise; I was so ready to love this movie. Instead all I got was a very sour taste in my mouth after having watched a hopelessly derivative b-movie that barely scratches the surface of what it could have been. Even with a b-movie I find it kind of hard to have fun when I have the constant feeling of being cheated out of a better film. The monster is pretty lame too.
This creature that God Himself could not destroy, this monster that God employed Noah with the task of "banishing" someplace where man will never find it, this monster that is said to have wiped out entire civilizations, this monster prophesized to be the harbinger of the Apocalypse, you'd think such a monster would be a lot more menacing than it actually is. Talk about not living up to the hype. This stocky, alien-rock-looking thingamajig galloping around like the demon dogs from Ghostbusters periodically swatting and slashing random people with its claws - not always fatally I might add - looked to me like a creature more befitting a "Stargate" episode, not a pre-biblical horror of unspeakable evil. I can think about of about a dozen other Sci-Fi Channel movie monsters that would have fit that bill better.
Tim DeKay ("Tell Me You Love Me", Get Smart) stars as a biblical archaeologist who has just unearthed the last of the Dead Sea Scrolls. He then takes it to his ex-wife, Xena's former sidekick Renee O'Connor, for further study and translation. They're one of those bickering divorced couples we see far too often in movies and in this case their bickering is so shrill you might be tempted to yell "Shut up!" back at your TV screen. O'Connor's character comes across particularly smug at times. We know she's a woman of deep faith because her character has been written to tell us so every chance she gets.
He doesn't share her faith even though his job is finding religious artifacts and getting quite excited when doing so. That to me makes about as much sense as being someone who doesn't believe in ghosts and thinks people who do are silly yet you make a living as an enthusiastic ghost hunter. Since you'll never see a movie like this where the person of faith ends up changing their tune and agreeing with the non-believer you just know he's going to find religion before it's over just as much as you know these feuding exes will end up back together.
The scroll turns out to be the original manuscript of the Book of Genesis. The most important aspect of which, at least the only aspect the film has any interest in talking about, are the details of the true story of Noah's ark and the second ark he used to deal with a monster of such darkness that even God couldn't smite it.
One commercial break later and they're off to Iraq to unearth this second ark which they do under the protection of a tiny platoon of soldiers led by a comically tough-talking Major played by Tiny Lister (Friday, The Dark Knight). Lister will steal about every scene he's in yelling stuff like "Get that sucka!" and "Don't die on me, soldier!" once the monster is unearthed. That takes about one more commercial break to happen.
There's also this super-double-dog-secret religious sect called "The Brotherhood" represented by a guy best known for impregnating Madonna (the singer, not the mother of Jesus). This order has spent the last 5,000 years guarding this horrible secret to ensure the creature is never released. They're doing such a bang-up job that they'll be shown still engaging in phone tag talking about how they have to prevent this from happening well after it has already happened.
There's entirely too much explaining and preaching going on in this movie and not nearly enough doing. I understand the low Sci-Fi Channel budget only allows for so much CGI monster screen time which I assume is the reason the already unimpressive monster lurks off-camera most of the time while the protagonists engage in a little Raiders of the Lost Ark action in search of the magical staff God gave Moses to subdue the monster, the one that can only be wielded by someone of faith and since Old Testament really does seem to frown upon the fairer sex, a certain ex-husband had better find the Lord and fast.
SPOILER WARNING: it helps that the Lord finds him first.
I didn't think the last Sci-Fi Channel movie from writer/director Declan O'Brien, Rock Monster, was a complete success but there was no denying that film's enthusiasm. Not this time. I'd like to believe that his script fell victim to the whims of producers or Sci-Fi execs or somebody interfering during the creative process because otherwise O’Brien (next directing Wrong Turn 3) gets all the blame for churning out such a creatively bankrupt film, made even worse because of how strong the core idea behind it was.
How creatively bankrupt does it get? The moment they blatantly copied the Raiders of the Lost Ark map room scene, all I could think about was that conversation between Liam Neeson and Jim Carrey in The Dead Pool over homage vs. rip-off; I side with Carrey on that one. Even the anti-climactic finale will be followed up by a closing shot lifted straight from Raiders.
I also couldn’t help but be reminded of another Sci-Fi Channel movie with a slightly similar premise, The Fallen Ones. I couldn’t help but he reminded of it because I liked that film a whole heck of more than this. At least it tried harder.
1 1/2 out of 5