SciFi
Screamers
.
Dir: Christian Duguay
Star: Peter Weller, Andrew Lauer, Jennifer Rubin
Cert / Year: 18 - R / 1995
Format: DVD R2
'

Sirus 6B is the human colony which is the only source of a powerful and necessary mineral. However when radiation started poisoning the miners they rebelled from the New Economic Block (NEB), and formed the Alliance. In the war that followed most of the planet was destroyed. The Alliance invented small subterranean robots called mobile swords or screamers, and this forced the NEB into an uneasy stand off. Now in his bunker Alliance Commander Hendricksson (Peter Weller) has received a request from the NEB commander to negotiate an end to the war. He and one of his men, Jefferson (Andrew Lauer), must venture through the wastelands to the NEB bunker, but have the screamers got other plans.

This is a small low budget film. It has come in for a lot of criticism due to the quality of the source material and maybe the high expectations made both of it and of modern sci-fi movies. This is more than a little unfair as here we have an interesting film.

The screenplay is from a Philip K Dick short story called "Second Variety" and is written by Dan O'Bannon and Miguel Tejada-Flores. It is a very strong story, high in originality and exploring some good sci-fi concepts. It is interesting that this story yet again covers the themes of the human fear of technology, and the evolution of robots into living entities, in much the same way as the author did in Do androids dream of electric sheep (filmed as Blade Runner). The main difference here is that the robots themselves are evolving possibly not through human design (although it is not a concept that is fully explored within the film). These are interesting concepts and the story handles them well making for a more intelligent movie than you usually get.

There are problems with the script, or maybe direction, in so much as the main themes are sometimes rather confusingly explained or glossed over far too superficially. With such great concepts it would have been better to concentrate more of the origins \ evolution of the robots, however these play second stage to the human characters. By the end of the film you can't help feeling that in this case more would have been better. Maybe some of the problems are due to the lack of budget, which is the single biggest limiting factor in this film.

Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in the special effects. The CGI effects are very primitive to say the least. The CG generated screamers are of a good design however these elements do not mix with the live action at all well. The worst example of this is the escape craft, which is so obviously CG that most computer games manage to look more realistic. Thankfully the other effects go a long way in making up for it. Some fantastic Matte paintings are matched with some really great locations to provide an atmospheric backdrop of bombed out cities and desolate wastelands. Also worth a look are the mechanical creature effects, which are of a high quality.

The cast is also suitably low budget. Peter Weller continues his descent into B movies with a strong, and as usual humourless performance. Andrew Lauer provides a likable and convincing sidekick, and Jennifer Rubin also provides a good turn. This film has only a small cast all of which are relatively unknown, yet they all do a good job.

This film with a major budget and a bit of work on the script could have been a bit hit in much the same way as Blade Runner. However at the end of the day it becomes a victim of its budgetary limitations. The direction is never above average, and the effects are patchy. Some scenes are good especially the return to the Alliance base, but others do tend to drag. Overall the disadvantages do rather cancel out the quality concepts behind the story. It is worth a watch if it is on but not worth rushing out to see. It is worth noting that a second viewing does uncover more of what was being attempted, but overall this is a rather average film.

Rating: 2 out of 5

DVD
Picture 1.85:1 A nice clean grain freee picture
Audio 5.1 Dolby Digital A good mix but the surround is a little under used
Features A Full trailer
Production Notes
Verdict A fair presentation of a small film, however more extras would have not gone amiss.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Back Top Home