Thursday, July 14, 2011

Syfy Channel Week: Sand Serpents

Can you top Mongolian Death Worm?  Unfortunately, this halfway-decent Syfy Channel film has to follow one that I liked quite a lot.  As such, it can't take anything more than a Silver.  The plot of this movie is simple- U.S. soldiers fight giant worms while running from the Taliban.  That's just silly.  It's not like there's another Syfy Channel film where the Iraqis summon a monster to battle the U.S. soldiers there.  Plus, that fictitious movie doesn't star the Indian guy from Star Trek: Voyager either.  Man, that was awfully-detailed for a fictitious film, huh?  So yeah, this film is alright, but I do have more to say about it.  Watch your choppers closely as we approach the...
No traditional Syfy Opening here.  Weird, right?  A group of soldiers are marching for a bit until they get attacked by the Taliban.  We're trading out the usual opening for a shoot-out?  Okay then.  They get caught and taken to an abandoned shack near some debris that appears to be part of an over-pass.  Quick question: why is that there?  The terrorists go outside when the Earth shakes and get killed by unseen things.  I have to raise another question- why the attempt at suspense?  Not counting a DVD rental (where the things are on the Menu Screen), the movie is called Sand Serpents.  What do you think we are going to believe the killers are?  If you're film were called The Terror Beneath or Sand Devils, I might buy it.  The bottom line: don't try to make the most obvious thing in the world a surprise!!!  Anyhow, the crew call for da choppa, but it gets taken out (see Deep Blue Sea Moments: Sand Serpents).  Now that they know about the monsters, the group understandably freak out.
The movie drags a bit here, as the people can never really do anything other than talk about the monsters, run from the monsters or hide from the monsters.  There is a downside to making your creatures 100-feet tall, you know!  They make it to a nearby building and discover that a bunch of locals are there.  The bad guys are dead and only those who helped them out of fear are left.  This doesn't sit well with Asshole Soldier, but Guy Who's Kind So He Has To Die Soldier makes friends with the kid, since only he speaks the language.  Quick thought- why does only he speak the language?!?  Is this why we've been in this war for 10 years with no clear strategy?  That political commentary aside, a bunch more people get killed by the worms.  Don't worry- one little girl is safe, so all is well.
The rest of this movie is pretty much just more of the same.  The worms are big, scary and eat people.  Our heroes are constantly running and hiding.  I'm not suggesting that they should punch the worms in the face or anything, but this movie just has one trick to it.  They go to a Taliban camp, since it is the closest place to their extraction point.  Here's a hint, guys- move your freaking extraction point!  We get a tense scene involving our heroes using the girl to go through the camp to get around to open a door for them.  You're terrible heroes.  The worms show up again and kill the terrorists, but also hang around for the heroes to run from.  This time, they keep distracting them with noises, since Tremors was a movie.  The group make it to the chopper, but the only way to escape is for one man to lose his life via a Chekov's Gun from earlier.  Before we can process that, the movie just sort of ends abruptly.  Weird.
The second time is less than the charm.  The plot of this movie is simple enough, but there are problems.  As I mentioned (perhaps ad nauseum), the plot breaks down into about three things.  They don't try new things or mix them up at all.  Due to the constant fact that these creatures are so huge, we never get a real conflict.  In Mongolian Death Worm, we get a good bunch of the creatures that are small enough to interact with the people and/or be shot by them.  It's like the problem people had with the American remake of Godzilla.  The characters here are not all that likable, even if you consider that one of them is written that way on purpose.  The only interesting ones die early on, begging the question of whether I only found them interesting because of their short screen time.  Maybe, maybe not.  Regardless, this movie is alright, but does not compare to Death Worm.  I should point out that a lot of the Special Effects here do look damn good too.  How do some companies make their Effects look good, while others look like bad Playstation 2 graphics?  I leave you with one of the most bad-ass death scenes of all-time.  Enjoy.
Next up, Syfy Channel Week ends up with the most improbable premise.  The craziest part is the TV Producer who appears in it.  Stay tuned...

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