Sony // 2001 // 95 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // June 14th, 2002
12,000 feet below the Antarctic ice, it lays in wait...
All the countries of the world decide that the best way to handle terrorism is to build a super duper secret prison on top of the South Pole and let Craig Wasson run it. When on-site engineers Beavis and Butthead drill through a rock filled with pure nitrogen, they unleash a prehistoric poot containing a mega-sized serpent with a jones for juicy jailbirds. Archeologist Dean Cain and his equally fossilized wife are enlisted to argue about their careers. Together with the smallest platoon in the Special Forces, they try to outwit an 80-foot long animated bitmap. The snake attacks, guns fire, gas pipes explode, Warden Wasson sits playing video games, and TV's ex-Clark Kent uses the F-word. Just when everything seems (and feels and looks and sounds) bleak, the wacky pack of prisoners (literally forgotten since the beginning of the film) are called into action, hoping that their skills at killing innocent women and children in the name of fervent ideology will be useful in kicking some snake ass.
This film is one big polymorphous mess, ripping off Aliens, Alien3, Jurassic Park, Anaconda, Lake Placid, Fortress, and Air Force One (there's even a little Lois and Clark and The Bickersons thrown in for good measure). In what appears to be a first in cinematic history, lice-infested geriatric baboons were given a chance to write a screenplay. You can and will count over 10 different sub-plots going on here, none of which are particularly compelling or satisfactorily resolved. To say this movie is all over the map is like noting that George Lucas merely "tinkers" with his films when he re-releases them. The actors, for the most part, acquit themselves amply, even if Elizabeth Lackey lives up to her last name and Dana Ashbrook thinks he is Bobby Briggs after reading "Hacking for Dummies." The sets are also convincing, and some of the special effects sequences are impressive. The snake here is as believable in appearance as the creature in Deep Rising or Tom Cruise in Cocktail. But the pen here is truly deadlier than any fork tongued beastie, as every bit of drama, suspense, or excitement built up is automatically whizzed away when someone opens his or her mouth.
Another aspect of this film that undermines its potential is the picture. The full frame presentation here, by Columbia TriStar, is horrible. There is massive artifacting in the effects sequences, so much so that you don't know where the snow storms start and the pixelation ends. During some action sequences, the screen goes into a digitized dance. The aural, however, is a massive improvement over the visual, as both the Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2 Channel Surround add atmosphere and mood to what is, occasionally, a blurry hopeless cause. Unless you consider a couple of trailers and sketchy filmography extras, the packaging offers little else.
Frankly, Boa is no worse than any other low budget, B-actor filled Horror, Sci-Fi, Giant Monster, Future Shock, shown eight times a week on USA Network type film. Sure, there are some big time groaner moments (you know you're in trouble when the subtitle says "Princeton" and it looks like the campus of Okefenokee Community College) and a slew of unintentional belly laughs. So while it's no match for the aforementioned big budget Hollywood actioners, at least we are spared J-Lo's rump shaking, or Sigourney's earth mother mania. That, however, may not necessarily be a good thing.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Theatrical Trailers
* Director and Cast Filmographies