Thriller / Sci-Fi
(US); 1999; Rated R; 100 Min.
Jamie Lee Curtis: Kit Foster
William Baldwin: Steve Baker
Donald Sutherland: Captain Everton
Joanna Pacula: Nadia
Cliff Curtis: Hiko
Produced by Mark Gordon, Gale Anne Hurd, Dennis E.
Jones, Gary Levinsohn, Todd Moyer, Chuck Pfarrer, Mike Richardson
and Bud Smith; Directed by John Bruno; Screenwritten
by Chuck Pfarrer and Dennis Feldman
by DAVID KEYES
is a disgusting, ugly, and downright depressing excuse for
a thriller, and that's what makes it good. This is a difficult
job for me as a film critic, because what we have here is
a movie that essentially deserves zero stars for being so
bad, and I'm giving it a whopping two-and-a-half. How do
you explain the reasons to your readers effectively? It's
a difficult job, but I'll try my best.
the problem areas. "Virus" contains a lot of those. From
the midnight-like tones to the fast, rythmless editing,
to the horrible acting and the repulsive special effects,
the whole movie is a big mess to stare at for two hours.
Every scene is done this way with such a lack of effort
and imagination that it's kind of funny. To think that anyone
could find this as a plausible idea for moviemaking is impossible.
Since it was released to the human public, though, that
tells us something about these filmmakers that we shouldn't
year, at the Cannes Film Festival, a lot of viewers mocked
the hideous images of a lizard in the sour adaptation of
"Godzilla." This is the same case, basically. Things come
together so badly that the public provokes this really scathing
audience participation. That in itself is an entertainment.
Emerging from all the audience reaction, I was quick to
like "Virus" for provoking that type of amusing participation
with its viewers. If such a bad reaction had come form something
like, say, "Armageddon," I might have given it more than
just a half star.
you've seen "Deep Rising," you know the story. It centers
around a Russian communications vessel caught in the eye
of a viscous typhoon. In the opening credits, a virus from
outer-space inhabits the ship's computer system. Later,
as the movie progresses, we meet a group of Americans coming
across the ship motionless in the Pacific. The solution
is to go aboard and try to take it ashore. Big mistake.
American ship crew features, among others, actors like William
Baldwin, Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Sutherland. You could
put all of them into a movie, and you'd get a pulse-pounding,
nonstop thriller. Why don't we get that here? Probably because
the film's focus is the special effects, and they completely
overshadow any human character. Heck, half the time, the
film is so dark that you can't tell who's who (a la "Armageddon").
walk around on the ship for a few minutes with nothing by
insipid dialogue to keep them company. They shout through
the corridors. They walk waist-deep in water. They discover
that, if you turn the ship's computer system on, the deadly
alien virus creates some sort of gooey monster, either using
parts of the actual ship or limbs from leftover crew casualties,
whichever is closer. Throughout the rest of the movie, a
series of dark and scare-less chase scenes carry the whole
concept to absolute deadness. The whole last half of the
film is one dark chase scene with limbs being thrashed,
monsters grunting, people screaming, and lights flickering.
You can't tell what's going on at all.
at "Virus," this is the point that provokes the audience
participation. During the opening showing of the film, people
actually said, "Is this supposed to be scary?" "Someone
put out a contract on John Bruno's head," and "This film
reminds me of my mother in law. Both are loud and annoying."
There was much more said in the two hours of the film's
existence on screen, but some of it was so gross or vulgar
that it can't even be repeated here.
don't usually let the audience influence my final decision
about movies, but in a case like this, I had to. It's necessary
to Creat audience hatred sometimes when you hate movies
so badly. With "Virus," I am reminded of an old theater
saying that my middle school drama teacher once used. She
claimed that "if your audience hates you, they'll make that
clear during your performance." Here is a movie that obviously
did a bad job of amusing the audience. I should know. They
1999, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
Please e-mail the author here
if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.