Special effects expert and modelmaker, Phil Tippet, slips into the director’s chair for the first of two direct-to-dvd sequels to Paul Verhoven’s original militaristic sci-fi war film, which is the next stop in the supremely enjoyable, Sci-Fi Chronicles book. A group of troopers, in an abandoned outpost find that they are in deeper trouble than they thought when they discover the enemy may be among them.
Richard Burgi is said hero. He is Captain V.J. Dax. He is joined by other troopers, and it’s odd to see Brenda Strong amongst them playing Dede Rake, because in the previous film she was Captain Deladier, not that it matters what her rank is, because she would have been unable to save this film.
From the outset, you can tell the film is restricted to a tighter budget, aimed right at the home video market, and it shows on every level.
Rake and her troopers, along with General Shepherd (Ed Lauter) are denied a pick up by Military Intelligence as their position is being overrun by the arachnids, so they hotfoot it to a deserted outpost (all in the dark to hide the lack of expansive sets, and design, the film lacks the cinematic sweep of the first film – although Tippett and his studios do nice work on the effects with the budget they have), though not all of them make it.
But it seems they are leaping from the frying pan into the fire as their psychic lieutenant, Pavlov Dill (Lawrence Monoson) seems to be having problems holding it together, the discovery of Dax being held in the outpost, an enemy capable of infiltrating them, and the dreams and intuitions of trooper Sahara (Colleen Porch) who may be a little more psychic than Dill and who begins to realize what is really going on.
With the bugs all around them, and bad actors on cheap sets struggling to stay alive, Strong, Burghi and Sandrine Holt try to hold the film together, but sadly, nothing about the film seems to work. The script is slap-dash at best, and the confines of the budget, and the filming style prevent the film from realizing any potential, and does no justice to the original film.
Despite the film’s short runtime, barely an hour and a half, the film drags, and never truly engages the viewer. It lacks the satire and black comedy of the first film to say nothing of the ultra-violence and nudity that seemed to be part and parcel of the first film. I’m not saying that a sequel has to be a direct repetition of the previous film, but it’s production should at least be on par, or a comparable level. In this case, this one just comes across as bad sci-fi and should probably be forgotten.