Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Pair of B Movies

The Anomaly, 2014, Noel Clarke -- download
The Hybrid, 2014, Billy O'Brien -- Netflix

B ? C ? Not so bad as to be Z grade but definitely of the straight-to-video ilk.

Noel Clarke (Mickey on Doctor Who) stars and directs in this scifi flick about mind control and terrorists. It takes the premise of someone awakening, finding themselves in the middle of a caper, but not knowing why. Then, only minutes later, they black out and the movie skips ahead to the next time they awake. We learn more as Ryan (Clarke) learns.

When I saw the trailers and clips, I had somehow assumed it was a time travel movie and he was skipping around in time. Alas, no, it was just a middling depiction of evil scientists inventing body/mind control technology and using it to expand their own agenda. A decent if thin premise that they attempt to stretch into a scifi actioner.

Ian Somerhalder (Vampire Diaries, Lost) is one of the Evil Scientists, but also a kickass fighter and gun smith. Don't let the bow ties and tweed suits fool you, he's a mean machine. His father, rarely seen, is Brian Cox suffering from a debilitating disease. Thus his desire to control Ryan as his own new, fresh body. There are further agendas, including tailored viruses and such, but it comes down to Ryan trying to extend the time he is control of his own body so he can stop the bad guys and rescue to Prostitute with a Heart of Gold.

Clarke has ideas. Clarke has ambitions but he is still learning. He obviously had a fondness for well choreographed fight scenes, as this movie is packed with them, obviously padding out the lack of any real plot. The movie also takes place in a glossy, plastic & glass filled future, but at the beginning we are not properly introduced to that so for a while we are not sure if Ryan is aware he is supposed to be then either. I usually love science-fictiony future imagery, but this seemed tacked on for no good reason but to use up the CGI effects budget.

B-Movies can be good, well paced and decently enjoyable and I hope Clarke gets there soon.

Meanwhile, The Hybrid is one that the director does seem to know how to build a good scene but is completely lost without any sort of real plot.  We begin the movie with a man being tortured in an African prison but rescued by his handler, so he can perform a difficult job, for the owners of said prison. There is something a scientist wants in a war torn section of eastern former Soviet block, and his team will get her in and get it out. While his team don't seem to be all that capable, no impression of intense skill or experience but we accept them as seasoned. John Lynch, a North Ireland actor with good intensity plays their leader and carries off his role decently. The rest, including Antonia Thomas from The Misfits just seem to phone it in.

The pacing is decent, the muddy forest could be anywhere and I got the sense this was a 20 minutes into the future setting -- another former eastern European country that has fallen into chaos and desperation, full of guns and ruins. They sneak their way into the bad guy's lair and down into tunnels, to be stalked with creatures left over from a low budget version of Hellboy -- sepia tinted bubble dome helmets, alien clicking sounds and darting moves. The movie falls apart precisely here, as they lose one of their team to swelling pustules and enter the Evil Scientist's lair proper. Things just seem to get ... directionless.

Said Evil Scientist has been experimenting with DNA recovered from a meteor. They have merged it with human DNA and made something creepy, all blinky eyes but not very bright, at least from her limited point of view. Yes, you have a single scientist whose speciality is DNA, genes, etc. also making opinions on the progression and intelligence of a new species. Of course, she is being made a fool of, as alien hybrid boy is much more than he appears to be.

The hybrid is what the movie wanted to be about, but he ends up being just a monster, a terminator, a predator for the mercenary team and the bad guys to fight and be killed by. He is not presented like a horror movie monster, so I assume they wanted to do much more thoughtful exploration of the Frankenstein monster he represented, but they didn't. The plot fell apart very quickly with exploding heads and gun fights and the killing off of the mercenaries one by one to no effect.

The movie left me very disappointed and no whatsoever interested in seeing the next one, which takes place after he magically gets himself and his freaky eyes (and no money, clothes, etc.) to London. For some reason.

I also hesitate in liking a movie that so obviously was renamed for the dull witted.