Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Phantoms - 1998

The 90's are a strange time in movies, for me specifically.  Of course, I am biased because this is the era in which I was growing up, and it's always fun for me to look back at.  I feel like the 90's and early 2000's were the end of an era in Hollywood:  the early CG gave way for high budget movies to 1) either look silly and take the CG route, or 2) still use practical effects because they realized they needed something real.  The end came when the CG was decidedly cheaper and as good looking (to some) as the practical.

The actors were a mix of old favorites and new up and comers.  Trends were moving towards a type of obsession with the movie stars, their personal lives, and what they did when they were off the silver screen as well.  That made for each movie starring someone major to be a story more about that actor versus the character they were playing.  Perhaps that was going on earlier too in Hollywood, but I felt like in the 90's and especially later (like now) it's all about the actors, and less about the movies.

Anyyyyyyyyways, a lot of the movies coming out were also like, kinda changing gears.  A lot of the action movies were getting longer and longer as the short movies were looked at as "undeveloped" or something, and audiences demanded to have a emotional connection or some dumb shit like that with the actors.  Look at action movies now, the movies are running 2, 2.5 hours long as a regular thing.  The conversion to digital especially meant that they didn't have to deal with 8-10 reels of 35mm film when they make a movie that long.  As someone who used to work with 35mm film and projectors, trust me, 10 reels = not easy to deal with.

Ben Affleck, Mira Sorvino, Peter O'Toole, Liev Schreiber, and Rose McGowan fill out this star-studded cast.  Basically what the plot is, is a sort of reworking of Mimic from 1997.  Mimic as you may remember is the story of some genetically mutated bugs that start killing people.  This one is like, some ancient life-form that lives underground that comes outta nowhere and starts offing people in a small town somewhere.

This one kind of pulls that mystery/horror thing too, it takes a lot of weird steps to make the mystery build.  This includes weird sounds coming from drains, phones, etc, it includes the missing persons, and other stuff.  This is all, oddly enough, a plot by the monster that's underground (let's just call it Jeff) to get a hack reporter, some guy who writes for a magazine similar to Weekly World News, to come and document the fact that Jeff exists.  Huh?  So a huge fucking powerful underground monster wants some unknown of reporter to document it?  WHY?!

Ben Affleck and company are investigating the disappearances in the small town, and basically the lead up to the discovery of the monster is actually pretty cool.  Jeff (the monster) has a wide array of odd powers, such as infesting himself in the bodies of humans and controlling them.  This makes for a lot of creepy scenes of people being taken over.  Also, the weird sound effects and the atmosphere are pretty top notch.  When they discover what they think Jeff really is, some weird underground monster that's been around since the dawn of time, it then turns into more of a suspense movie as they plan to kill Jeff.

The build up is good, the pay off not so much.  At some point, the movie really felt like it changed gears, especially because I went into this not expecting much at all, and the first half hour was really cool.  Whatever happened that changed the tempo up, it is hard to quantify exactly.  But it was definitely like, horror turned into action or adventure...or like, I don't even know.

Okay, generally, it's ok.  It's not like a cult movie or anything and I doubt if it will stand the test of time.  It's ok as like a pass-the-time type movie that might entertain you a lot if you're in the right mood or if you're at the right age.  I'll give it 2.5 stars I suppose.

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