Sony // 2008 // 87 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 7th, 2008
Don't go near the dark?
But should you go near this creature feature? It depends -- do you like crappy CGI bats and horrible acting?
The Pentagon dispatches a squad of counter-terror soldiers to track a renegade doctor that went rogue when the President cut federal funding for stem cell research. Now he's developing weapons of mass destruction for the Chechnyan rebels (of course). To take him out, our heroes will have to penetrate Russian sovereignty and enter a forest rumored to be inhabited by supernatural beasts. What on earth could these creatures be?
Why, they're bats of course! Genetically engineered vampire bats no less, that have the power to converge on a human being and lift him in the air and drop his flayed corpse onto the ground, and, yes, I know what you're thinking, it's just like Saberwulf's finishing move in Killer Instinct 2.
So the soldiers drop in to reconnoiter the premises, among them is the hard-nosed squad leader (Michael Jace), the loose cannon that has trouble with authority but somehow made it through Delta Force training (David Chokachi) and the shapely female Russian bat expert (Pollyana McIntosh). But what they find is a whole new kind of enemy, one that doesn't respect the military might of the United States and has fury wings.
Awful. Just awful. Bats: Human Harvest will sell you promises of an action-packed thrill ride featuring soldiers fighting killer bats and will deliver naught but despair and mild emotional trauma.
About as clumsy and poorly executed as these kinds of films come, Bats will make you long for the Golden Years of SciFi Channel originals featuring freakishly huge pythons battling freakishly huge boas.
The featured baddies are all computer generated and unconvincingly at that. Any time they attack en masse, the screen becomes a jumbled mess of visual effects all competing vigorously to give you a bigger migraine. As the bats swirl around, the human actors in the scene wave their arms and scream and fire their weapons and occasionally hit something, which is communicated by more CGI, red this time, mushrooming in wispy clouds of fake bat blood.
While this is all pretty woeful, it's the intimate encounters with the bats that really strike out. Several times our protagonists will find themselves face-to-face with a big-ass bat and it's an understatement to say that the resulting special effects make the scenes look ridiculous. There will be absolutely no doubt in your mind that while you're supposed to believe there's a gigantic bat clinging to the driver's side door of the Jeep with a scared solider tentatively pointing a gun at its bat face, you will in fact laugh and feel secure in the knowledge that the soldier is in absolutely no danger.
Not that you'd care if said soldier bit the big one anyway. A combination of poor writing and acting so wooden the Blue Fairy wouldn't be able to do anything about it leads to a moronic and unsympathetic gaggle of characters who would be best served to succumb to the fatal wounds inflicted by a flock of mutant bats instead of continuing on in their tedious and banal existence.
The film looks fine (1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen), but the decent transfer backfires because it accentuates the mediocrity of the CGI (everything, by the way, seems to be computer generated, from the bats to the trees to the helicopters). The rest of the specs: three 5.1 tracks -- English, Portuguese, Thai -- and two forgettable deleted scenes.
The Final Bad Guy Death is moderately cool.
If your significant other walks through the door cradling this disc, thinking she found an exciting movie for you to enjoy together, pick any one of the outstanding home improvement projects you have and get to work. You'll have a much better time.
Deep-fry this one in guano and stick it on a stalactite.
Review content copyright © 2008 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Thai)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes