Wyvern (2009)

dcnone - Wyvern (2009)Reviewed by The Foywonder

Starring Nick Chinlund, Erin Karpluk, Barry Corbin, Elaine Miles, Don S. Davis

Directed by Steven R. Monroe

A wyvern is a cunning dragon of Nordic mythology. It doesn’t breathe fire but is extremely deadly regardless. It loves to swoop down, snatch someone up, and drop what remains of them after its done chowing down. Thanks to rising temperatures, a wyvern has thawed out and taken to making the small hick town of Beaver Mills, Alaska its new feeding ground. You just don’t come across too many Alaskan dragon movies. Regardless, Wyvern is easily the best movie ever made about a dragon attacking Alaska.

Thanks to the near theatrical quality computer effects used to bring it to life, the wyvern ranks as one of the most impressive CGI monsters to ever appear in a Sci-Fi Channel movie. Top notch special effects for a Sci-Fi Channel flick. The rest of the movie isn’t too shabby, either.

Wyvern proves to be a completely unremarkable yet rather well-made straightforward monster movie. It doesn’t bring anything new to the table, outside of a somewhat unique means by which to kill a flying dragon, but it does entertain in a Saturday matinee sort of way without insulting your intelligence the way too many Sci-Fi Channel original movies tend to when they try to be a little too cheeky for their own good. The plot is very reminiscent of Tremors and in that effect, very reminiscent of any number of 1950’s science fiction B-movies. If you like old fashioned monster movies then you’ll probably like this one, too.

A small isolated town filled with average folk and a few colorful bumpkins get cut-off from the outside world thanks to the appearance of a ravaging dragon that procedes to pick-off a few townsfolk before making its way to the heart of the small burg where the remaining townsfolk have to make a stand. The script even takes a page from Jaws by having a local festival those in charge don’t want called off despite the sudden rise in missing citizens and rambling reports of something monstrous on the prowl. Thankfully, the script doesn’t dwell too much on the festival aspect.

wyverns - Wyvern (2009)The two main characters are where I had my biggest beef with this dragon tale. No complaints about the actors’ performances; I just found their characters to be a bit too bland and stuffy compared to the folksy charm of most of the supporting players around them. Nick Chinlund (remember him as the bad guy from Ultraviolet? If so, try not to hold it against him) stars as your typical B-movie working class hero who’s contemplating moving away with only his love for a local woman of the generic female lead variety holding him back. Chinlund has a surprisingly serious scene in the third act where he tearfully talks of his guilt regarding his involvement in the incident that claimed his brother’s life. It’s a fairly lengthy scene so heavily dramatic it felt out of place considering mere minutes later we’re going to be watching the same guy in a big rig hauling monster eggs being chased down the street by an angry dragon.

The rest of the cast manages to show just enough personality to make them colorful without going overboard. Well, maybe not Don S. Davis; his performance as a gun-toting kook – this film’s version of Michael Gross’ Tremors character – comes very close to cartoonish buffoonery. The late Davis (in his final role) plays a retired military town crank running around screaming about reptilian invaders just like the ones he helped coverup at Roswell after he spots the wyvern depositing a half eaten moose in his swimming pool.

In what can only be called stunt casting, Barry Corbin of the defunct Alaskan-based drama “Northern Exposure” does his best Wilford Brimley impersonation as an elderly gruff hunter who just happens to be well versed in Nordic monster lore thanks to his Norwegian heritage. I got the impression that somebody on the creative end of Wyvern is a big fan of that series.

Wyvern is more or less Tremors meets “Northern Exposure” but with a flying monster threat, more gore, and less fun. Still, it’ll keep you entertained so long as you go in with no other expectations than to watch a workmanlike creature feature for an hour and a half. Not bad. Not bad at all. Worth a look on a rainy day.

Wyvern also marks the latest chapter in the Sci-Fi Channel’s continuing efforts to make an original movie based over every single monster of myth and legend. They appear to be working their way down the list so if you have a spec script sitting around about an axe-wielding centaur that goes berserk at the Kentucky Derby you might want to contact the Sci-Fi Channel immediately.

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3 out of 5

Discuss Wyvern in the Dread Central forums!

  • LuxVisualEffects
    February 9, 2009

    You like the VFX? You should check out Troglodyte (or did they end up calling it Sea Beast…), it was done by the same company – Lux Visual Effects Inc.

    Full Disclosure: I am a paid employee of Lux Visual Effects Inc., but they did not pay me to post this – although I am doing it during work hours… so…

    • Jim_McD
      February 10, 2009

      “although I am doing it during work hours… ”

      Nice. 🙂

  • hellbilly_drp
    February 4, 2009

    I’m with Foy. Wyvern’s a nice little monster flick.

    I particularly liked the way the other survivors scoffed when the crazy old lady started going off about Revelations and the end of days. Then they swallow the whole Nordic dragon that took a chunk out of Odin’s leg story lock, stock, and mead barrel.

    I was also pleased to see that prior to the credit roll, the camera didn’t pan across the tundra to a back up nest of Wyvern eggs hidden in the brush somewhere. The sequel will be based on Wyvern cloned from cellular material from the shotgunned eggs. They’ll be created in a secret Alaskan lab that “coincidentally” houses the prison holding the survivors. Everyone knows it would be more secure and economical to keep them imprisoned in a high security lab to shut them up rather than putting a bullet in each survivor’s brain. Trucker boy will turn out to be ex Special Forces who wanted to leave the fighting behind. Or maybe he’ll just turn out to be the re-incarnation of Odin.

    BTW, the deputy with the bullhorn that got et was another Northern Exposure veteran(Marilyn).

  • LSD Zombie
    February 2, 2009

    So there’s no special appearance by Sarah Palin? I was hoping it would end with her exploding the dragon’s head by talking with that whiney, nails on a chalkboard voice of hers. Damn it! Also, Wyvern 2 could open with the birth of Palin’s daughter’s second child….only the child isn’t human….it’s a Wyvern! And it’s up to John McCain to stop it!

  • doubleh55
    February 2, 2009

    This is so weird. I’m used to reading Foy’s reviews where he just hates the film. So when you read one that he likes, it’s very tough to wrap your head around it.

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