Starship Troopers 3 — Highlander 2 — The Devil Dared Me To — Rogue — movie reviews
Posted on August 19, 2008 by Chris Nelson
You know, I’m kinda digging these shorter reviews. I’ll have a third Summer round-up in the next few days, complete with blurbs on everything from The Mummy 3 and The Visitor to Pineapple Express and Tropic Thunder. Also stay tuned for coverage of Uwe Boll’s Seed, Hideo Gosha’s The Wolves, and a few other surprises in the coming weeks. For now, satisfy your genre cravings with reviews of Starship Troopers 3, Highlander 2, The Devil Dared Me To, and Rogue. Enjoy.
Starship Troopers 3 . With script and direction duties being handled by Edward Neumeier, the original Starship Troopers (and Robocop) screenwriter, and featuring the series’ return of Casper Van Dien as Johnny Rico, it’s safe to say Starship Troopers 3 actually comes with a level of expectation — something near unheard of for a direct to DVD release. And even more surprisingly is the fact that some of those expectations are actually met. Not all, but certainly more than you might think.
Now, I never saw the second Starship Troopers, so I don’t really know how this film relates to the last one, however this film relies on the expanded bug roster that episode seems to have provided. As the film starts, Johnny Rico is found on planet Roku San (Six Three?), still fighting bugs, but heading his own platoon of soldiers. Long story short, Rico encounters some old friends, suffers a huge defeat at Roku San, and ends up being recruited for a super-secret band of Trooper Marauders (read: Mech Pilots). The bulk of the film focuses on a stranded band of troopers on a bug infested planet, and the Marauders’ attempt to rescue them.
Now, the plot-points themselves aren’t all that compelling, but what’s cool here is just how much of the Starship Troopers feel the film musters up with its miniscule budget. The special effects are certainly cheaper – some even lower grade than your standard Sci-Fi Channel fare –, and most of the action scenes lack the tension of the original film, but for the most part the whole thing’s serviceable. The sotry exhibits Neumeier’s usual satirical flair, this time his sights being set on religion and government, in particular evangelical false prophets, geeky-yet-respectable true believers, and government actions towards suppression of dissident actions and rallying/conditioning the troops. And yes, in addressing these issues there are a whole host of awesome news bulletins and commercials to be seen. Would you like to know more? The film also surprises with pretty decent acting on the part of its cast of unknowns. Starship Troopers 3 may not be compelling cinema, but it is certainly comfortable viewing. At the very least, the ending had me hoping to see a fourth.
Highlander 2 . I’ve heard nothing but bad things about Highlander 2, mostly because people who saw it saw Highander 2: The Quickening. The latest version, simply titled Highlander 2 is the vastly re-tweaked Renegade version from the late nineties, but with new and improved special effects. Now, to be completely honest, I never saw the old Quickening version so I don’t know how “infinitely terrible” it was in its original incarnation,but I was afforded a look at the original effect work through the DVD’s special features. And wow, what a difference. Imagine the work done on the Star Wars special editions only if the new elements didn’t stand out like a sore thumb. Furthermore, this version proved a pretty entertaining film. Sure, there are some strange issues regarding the origins of the immortals (now harking from the distant path rather than a far off planet), a future-noir visual style that bites liberally off Blade Runner, and a whole host of cheesy, out of character one-liners by Sean Connery’s Ramirez, but I enjoyed it.
For those not in the know, Highlander 2 takes place in the 2020′s on an Earth suffering from catastrophic ozone depletion. Humans now rely on a man-made shield, constructed by none-other than Colin McCleod, to protect them from the Sun’s deadly radiation. Following its erection, McCleod has been enjoying the quiet life, having now become the only immortal on the planet and even being allowed the experience of old age. Upon the arrival of a group of immortals, former acquaintances of McCleoud, intent on seeing him dead, the Highlander’s quiet existence obliterated. What follows are a series of inventive sword-fights and action set-pieces that you would hope to find in any highlander film. Further add to the mix Connery’s Ramirez (complete and with head restored), a beautiful guerilla environmental activist (Virginia Madsen) who decries the need for the ozone shield, an evil money-grubbing corporation intent on the shield’s survival, flying air battles, time travel, environmental consciousness, and a surprising dash of comedy, and you have a pretty decent sci-fi tale. It’s not on par with the original, but certainly holds its own with most sci-fi releases of the time. See it with an open mind, and you might just like it too.
The Devil Dared Me To (aka: Dick: The Devil Dared Me To) . Imagine a mash-up of Broken Lizard Flicks, Peter Jackson’s early splatter horror/comedies, and last year’s Hot Rod, and you’ll have some idea of New Zealand’s The Devil Dared Me To, the decidedly vulgar comedic tale of an amateur stuntman’s rise to super-stardom in the face impossible odds. Now, while the American release has been retitled “Dick”, the main character in the film is actually named Randy. Dick merely serves as Randy’s gateway to stunt-work, and his nemesis in the latter half of the film. Furthermore, Dick is, well, an absolute dick, and his antics are pretty tiresome to watch. It’s really a shame he’s in the film as much as he is. But when the screen isn’t wasted on Dick, the film is decently funny. Much of the humor relies on ultra-crude dialog, shocking visual effects, and sometimes mean-spirited setups – perfect for the 25 and under set. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the film features impossible stunts, a variety of gory mess-ups, gross out gags, one-legged girlfriends, stupid misunderstandings, the New Zealand Bikini team, and much much more. The Devil Dared Me To doesn’t quite live up to the Comedic Kiwi standards set by Jackson or The Flight of the Conchords, but if you’re a member of the film’s target audience, you’ll probably have a blast.
Rogue . I liked Greg Mclean’s Wolf Creek. I wouldn’t say I’d ever watch it again, but the film managed to convey a palpable tension throughout its runtime, and the ending was one of the more memorable horror endings in recent years. When I heard about Rogue, Mclean’s tale of a killer crocodile in the Australian outback, you might say I was even interested. “Imagine Lake Placid, only serious.” Then came the tales of its trials and troubles on the way to acquisition and release, suffering the usual mistreatment of interesting flicks captured by the Weinsteins. My interest continued to grow. Now, having seen Rogue, I completely understand its unceremonious dumping to DVD. It’s just not that good. At only 92 minutes, we have about 15 minutes of croc action, and 77 of annoying, uninteresting humans. The film is an absolute chore to sit through, with nary a single moment to warrant even a modicum of the original hype. I never cared about any of the characters or their predicament, and apparently neither did the filmmakers, as over half of them simply disappear in the film’s third act. The croc effects are pretty darn good though, completely schooling the efforts that went into Lake Placid. It’s also kind of interesting to see Radha Mitchell speak with her native accent. Other than that, there’s nothing really to like about this rogue. If you’re really hankering for wild animal outback terrors, skip this and watch Razorback instead.
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