Heatstroke (2008)


Heatstroke (click for larger image)Reviewed by The Foywonder

Starring D.B. Sweeney, Danica McKellar, Chris Cleveland, Kelly Rice, Wayne Pygram

Directed by Andrew Prowse

When evil velociraptors from outer space set up shop on a Hawaiian island with plans to make our world more inhabitable for their species it’s up to the hockey player-turned-figure skater from The Cutting Edge and Winnie Cooper from “The Wonder Years” to save mankind.

Now here’s an inconvenient truth you won’t ever hear from Al Gore: aliens are responsible for global warming. Much like in David Twohy’s The Arrival, sinister aliens have been on Earth for decades scheming to alter our planet’s environment to better suit their needs before the all-out invasion begins. The good news is that we know about it – sort of. The even better news, and further proof this film is a work of science fiction, the United States government is actually doing something to fight global warming. Well, they’re ready to fight aliens causing the global warming. There’s already an anti-extraterrestrial task force currently operating incognito on the very resort island where the space dinos are attempting to leave their climate-changing carbon clawprint.

This latest Sci-Fi Channel turkey is Heatstroke, one of those films that keeps things moving yet never seems to be going anywhere. Decent pacing and a sense that everyone involved knew the movie they were making was anything but good is about the only thing that kept my interest from completely waning. The script is crammed full of so many underdeveloped ideas and enough clichés to give the appearance there’s more going on than there actually is, but, really, there isn’t – just your typically half-baked Sci-Fi Channel original movie; neither good enough to be good nor quite bad enough to be unintentionally funny.

One of the characters is a devout Christian who has a hard time rectifying her religious beliefs with the reality that aliens exist. This goes nowhere. Another character gets bodysnatched only for the alien-in-disguise to not really do a whole heck of a lot to sabotage the humans before being found out. It’s doesn’t take long for it to be found out since it keeps flashing its inhuman red eyes every chance it get. We’re supposed to believe these aliens are highly intelligent and yet they merely go about doing the typical animalistic monster stalking, killing, hacking, slashing routine; not to mention the fact that these technologically-advanced intergalactic invaders look like little more than taller-than-usual velociraptors with funky mandibles.

Heatstroke (click for larger image)D.B. Sweeney, giving a performance that can only be described as Stephen Baldwin-esque, leads the team of plainclothed alien hunters. Sweeney has experience with both aliens and digital dinosaurs having previously starred in the underrated alien abduction flick Fire in the Sky and voiced the lead dino in Disney’s computer-animated Dinosaurs. His character here also has experience with the aliens; he caught part of an alien broadcast as a kid back in 1975. That very brief TV interruption left him and any others like him who saw it forever haunted by nightmares of the alien’s not-so-menacing red eyes. This is yet another of those concepts tossed out there only to have little come of it.

Enter Danica McKellar as a swimsuit model on the island with some other models shooting a calendar. Pretty as she might be, Danica McKellar as a bikini model is something I just do not buy. I don’t think Miss McKellar buys it either. Judging by her performance, easily the worst of her career, she doesn’t seem to have any clue what exactly she’s supposed to be doing in this movie. Can’t fully fault her; her character has no purpose in this movie other than to provide a female lead and someone for D.B. Sweeney to flirt with. I could almost imagine her on the set asking the director “What’s my motivation?” and him replying, “We’re paying you.”

Even if Heatstroke had been more than just another clunky Sci-Fi Channel original movie it still would’ve been doomed the moment you see the computer-generated aliens that rank amongst the least convincing CGI ever seen in a Sci-Fi Channel original movie, though to be fair, still not as pitiful as the CG-work seen in Raptor Island and Stan Lee’s Harpies. Positively cartoonish, the Geico Gecko is more believable than these things. They look like an alien dinosaur you’d see in an episode of Filmation’s old animated “Star Trek” show. They even spit a red acid mist that moves across the screen like a red flash-animated blob. The extreme lameness of the effects work is hilarious at first, but that novelty wears off real fast. That’s pretty much sums up the entire film as well.

The director of Heatstroke is David Prowse, a director-producer who cut his teeth on the cult Sci-Fi Channel series “Farscape”. If you know anything about “Farscape” you know it was most infamous for featuring the use of muppets for some of the show’s alien characters. Many people have ripped into the show for having used puppets in place of more realistic special effects. Personally, I’d have killed for some muppet aliens in this film.

2 out of 5

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