Friday, 13 May 2016

Scavengers (2013)

The previous two movies I reviewed from this pack are ultimately pale, derivative copies of much better films, but they are both competent enough, within their modest low-budget terms.

Scavengers is also derivative of other works, but "competent" is not a word I would apply to any part of it.

Before I begin the litany of fail, however, let's briefly summarise the plot.

A ragtag group of interstellar scavengers find a strange alien doodad, and then have to (a) work out what it is and (b) stay ahead of the homicidal lunatics who are also after it.

Right, with that out of the way, let's deal with everything that's wrong with the movie.  Which is, in fact, everything to do with the movie.

Firstly there's the FX.  I know we're not exactly playing in the Weta / ILM end of the market, but the effects work in this is dreadful.  The CGI reminds me of Babylon 5 ... except worse.  Yes, worse than a TV show which debuted 15 years before this was released.  And then there's the green screen work, which makes me pine for the comparatively high quality CGI.

Second, the sound mix.  I can only assume that the dialogue and effects tracks were done by completely different people on completely different equipment in completely different locations, because finding a volume level where the former is audible without the latter blowing out your eardrums is more or less impossible.

Then we have the acting.  I know at least some of the people in this film can act, but you'd never guess it from their work here.  Sean Patrick Flannery, for instance, has done perfectly serviceable work elsewhere but here he mumbles his way through his lines like he's a very drunk, very sleepy William Shatner.

All sounds pretty bad, right?  Well, trust me, compared to the script, all of the above looks pretty good.  The writing is appalling.  Characters spout dialogue like "Your hatred runs ... seductively deep." and mean it seriously.  Subplots get introduced and forgotten: "This character is a major point of conflict between the hero and the villain!  Now let us never mention this again!".  A totally new enemy turns up in the last ten minutes, cuts a swathe through the good guys, and then gets written out again so the remaining cast can have an ultra-compressed showdown with the original bad guy.

Wholly without redeeming features: it's not even bad in a fun way.

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