27 December 2009 | HughBennie-777
Low Budget Sci-Fi Excels Yet Fails To Succeed
Extremely promising sci-fi thriller boasts some spectacular production design and moments of satisfying action only to become diluted of much of its suspense and believability. This the result of a weak third act, and, worse, a tragic choice to inject fantasy into the movie's gritty atmosphere. Acting is strangely fragmented in places--likely the result of a long period of production--but the two leads have plenty of charisma and chemistry, even if, for playing hardened convicts, it's hard to accept them as anything but average, clean-cut joes in space-suits. Script doesn't allow its lead characters much variety of emotion, and one wishes for more surprises, even violence, to erupt between them. Considering their predicament, the convicts' bickering relationship grows wearisome, as well. The movie's subterranean hell-hole is magnificent to look at, yet doesn't detract from the amount of pedestrian travel in the movie. Thus, the on-screen time devoted to showing the characters' entries, exits, and steps in-between is enough to justify a retitling: "The Men Who Walked An Entire 90 Minute Running Time". Decent score is reminiscent of "Blade Runner" era Vangelis, and a John Carpenter style dirge near the end provides some welcome nostalgia for decent sci-fi/horror music. Vivid cinematography is a plus, as well. As for an earlier blurber making the ignorant (and curiously anonymous) comment about the unprofessional nature of some of the actors, it's not only inaccurate, but if there's anything "groan-inducing" about the performances, it's the movie's unfortunate grafting on of fantasy characters burdened by flowery language ("sun spiders"?). The contrast in style is jarring and the resulting scenes become an intrusion. Great diabolical effects and a rousing finale make this well worth a watch. Undoubtedly, a better than average straight-to-video genre film and deserving of more attention.