Sony // 2008 // 95 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 20th, 2009
The perfect weapon is now the ultimate killing machine.
Sure, it may be composed primarily of spare parts from other, better movies, but whatever, these flying death robots have mastered the art of vivisection.
Pursuing a homing beacon, a detachment of bad-asses land on the planet of Sirius 6B. It's not going to be an in-and-out grab mission, however. See, 13 years ago, machines called Screamers that were originally made to help the human race, turned on their creators are murdered nearly everyone. Now, the Screamers are even worse, as they have somehow evolved into intelligent, body-possessing killer robots, which, of course, leads us to the inevitable who-can-you-trust-and-who-is-actually-a-robot-man scenario.
I had a pretty decent time with Screamers. It won't redefine the sci-fi action genre for sure, but if you're looking for a coherent slice of space horror loaded with gore, I think this bad boy should appeal to you.
The film begins as a standard-issue, action-heavy space marines versus robots frag-fest, but shortly transitions into a more suspense-laden horror film. As things roll on, we learn more about the Screamers and their origin and their near-miraculous evolution into body snatchers. This thematic change serves the film well and must have been a major selling point to the bean counters; minus the robot rendering, the CGI budget was no doubt trimmed dramatically.
Speaking of which, the visual effects were surprisingly effective. Maybe they're not on par with what ILM could create, but the Screamers did look cool and the CGI assists that were added to the death scenes looked good; the decapitation in particular was a standout kill. Practical effects impress as well. Once the Screamer-people reveal their true nature, their mouths open up Predator-style and reveal a jawful of blood-soaked circuitry and metal.
Unfortunately, before sealing the deal with a kick-ass battle with Screamers that seemed to be hinted at the entire runtime, the script defaults to a clichéd finale, and a predictable -- though well-executed -- final twist ending. I would have liked to see Lance Henriksen (who, if I'm not mistaken, is in every movie currently being released) open fire with his nifty plasma blaster or whatever it was in a giant Screamer brawl. My guess is the budget wouldn't have supported it.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is a clean one and the 5.1 Dolby Digital surround mix (English, Spanish. Portuguese and Thai) keeps the action loud. Only one extras: a behind-the-scenes featurette.
It won't set the Blockbuster shelf on fire, but if you're hankering for a serving of effective sci-fi B-movie shenanigans, you could do a lot worse than Screamers.
Not guilty. Why not!
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Thai)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R