Volume 92, Issue 64
Thursday, January 21, 1999
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Virus goes home with the flu
Photo by Michael Tackett
By Anthony Thomas
Aliens and the unknown are topics which have fervently caught the public's imagination over the past few years. Virus is one movie, with many similar predecessors, which hopes to cash in on this phenomenon.
A salvage tug boat seeks refuge in the eye of a typhoon to make repairs, when it stumbles up on a Russian science vessel which appears to be deserted. What the crew finds is an alien energy force which wishes to inhabit the Earth and sees man as a threat to survival a virus which must be eliminated. The crew must strive to save themselves and the world from this alien energy force.
This is the basic premise of Virus, which is based on the Dark Horse Comics series of the same name. The film stars Jamie Lee Curtis (as Kit Foster), William Baldwin (as Steve Baker) and Donald Sutherland (as Captain Everton). It is the directorial debut of Academy Award-winning visual effects wizard John Bruno.
Virus not only plays heavily on man's fear of aliens and the unknown but also plays on man's fear of technology. A particularly unnerving scene occurs when Sutherland enters the main computer room, where there are various robotic creatures scurrying around and humans are being turned into bio-mechaniods a monstrous fusion of man and machine.
Movie-goers will also appreciate the special effects, which are well done and central to the film. The storm scenes are outstanding and frighteningly realistic, while the ships and monsters are convincingly presented. Bruno assembles an effects team full of experienced veterans, including Gene Warren who also worked on Terminator 2. Nothing in the movie looks obviously computerized as the effects team made use of models, robots and real props.
Besides the idea of an electrical alien entity, the film is fairly unoriginal and formulaic. Virus is reminiscent of several movies, including Deep Rising and the Alien saga. The characters are cardboard and can be summed up in one simple word each. Captain Everton is greedy, Kit Foster is self-righteous and Steve Baker is practical. The entire cast plays their parts well, but the characters lack depth. It is difficult to invest in characters with whom you do not empathize.
The movie also annoyingly has inconsistencies within the story and an underdeveloped plot. Curtis' character is an example in one scene she forcefully punches Sutherland and 10 minutes later she is helplessly whimpering to Baldwin to take charge.
A romantic relationship between Curtis and Baldwin is hinted at but never fully developed. Sutherland looks at a picture of his son and apologizes, but the viewer is never told why. These type of unanswered questions and incoherences detract from the enjoyment of the film.
Virus provides some thrills, a few laughs and great special effects but lacks the originality and depth required to make it a first rate film.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999