Virus (1999) – John Bruno

Gale Anne Hurd serves as the producer on my next stop in the Sci-Fi Chronicles, 1999’s Virus. Once again, the film is packed with a fairly solid cast, Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Sutherland, William Baldwin, Joanna Pacula, and Marshall Bell, and once again, most of it is poorly executed.

Based on the Dark Horse Comic of the same name, the idea is pretty cool: a small tug crew are caught up in a typhoon, when they reach the calm eye of the storm, where they will have two hours of calm weather to effect repairs before weathering the other side of the storm.

Things take a bizarre twist when they come across a seemingly empty Russian communications and research vessel. The Russian crew have been almost entirely wiped out by an alien life form that has taken over the computer systems, making Earth-fall via a transmission from the now destroyed MIR space station.

The life form views humanity as a virus to be exterminated and creates mechanical creatures to wipe them out.

Now, Kit Foster (Curtis) and the rest of the crew of the Sea Star have to fight for their lives, stop the life form, and even if they survive all of that, they still have to get through the rest of the storm.

jamie-lee-curtis-kelly-foster-kit-foster

Bruno is best known for his work in visual effects for James Cameron films and other big budget blockbusters, and while (most of) the effects are fairly solid, the rest of the film needs some work. And despite the nice practical visual effects, they aren’t shot in a way to make them look threatening or even troubling, there’s no threat suggested in any of the camera angles, and consequently, there’s little to no tension in the film.

Of course because of the less than stellar camera work and editing, you can’t help but be aware of the b-movie level dialogue, and whereas Tremors may revel in it, this film wants to be taken more seriously than any viewer would take it.

There is a very familiar idea here that man is a virus on the face of the planet, and it’s not wrong. But that very relevant thought gets lost in the muddle that is this film.

So in the end, what we have is a b-movie science fiction film with a good cast, a half-baked script, a cool idea, some nice visual effects, poorly shot and realised.

Oh well.

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