Anchor Bay // 2011 // 90 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 16th, 2012
Swap out that "f" with another consonant.
From Syfy, a film that follows the low-budget creature feature game plan to a tee, except dodgy metal visual effects replace dodgy reptilian visual effects.
In the middle of Idaho (or Iowa, I can't quite remember, but I'm sure the state started with an "I") an alien life form crashlands and leaks out in liquid form. The alien's hook is simple: it has the ability to commandeer pieces of metal and kill humans by grabbing their necks and pumping them full of space bacteria.
When the alien infects a giant metal golem, s -- -- gets real and townsfolk begin dying. It falls to Jake (Kavan Smith), an enterprising contractor, and his ex-girlfriend (Nicole de Boer) to drum up a strategy to defeat the steel predator.
And that strategy is (SPOILER!) dumping alcohol on the alien.
Metal Shifters is hugely stupid, even for something out of the Syfy sausage-making factory. That whole booze attack thing is emblematic of this inanity, culminating in an inadvertently hilarious final confrontation featuring a doofus chasing a metal arm across a junkyard while spraying it with pressurized bourbon.
Leading up to this cinematic highlight is the typical hokum: a mysterious predator offs victims sporadically and an everyman and his everygirl team up to fight it. There are zero surprises to be found here, the textbook play-by-play essentially the same as you'd find in any manner of Boa or Python or Gatoroid misadventure. Just execute the palette swap and you're in business.
As dumb as Metal Shifters is, I'm not going to just be a player-hater. I've got some love to share. Like the special effects. The rendering of the killer golem is probably the best I've seen in a Syfy original film. The fact that the overworked, underpaid animators had to work with something metal rather than an organic life form helps; robots just lend themselves to affordable CGI work. As a result -- and this almost never happens -- the creature is the best thing going. Still, don't get your hopes up for any frantic Transformers-like action; this robot lumbers around with the agility of a Winnebago.
The Blu-ray: a clean and effective 1.78:1/1080p transfer joined by a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track with a surprising amount of low-bass rumble and a behind-the-scenes featurette.
The robot isn't embarrassing, but everything else is.
Guilty. Off to the recycling plant.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* TrueHD 5.1 EX (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13