Screamers: The Hunting
What's it about?
Sequel to the 1996 sci-fi thriller "Screamers". A distress signal from the mining planet Sirius 6-B brings a ship-load of rescuers to search for survivors some thirteen years after the events of the first movie.
Who would I recognise in it?
Lance Henriksen, and a bunch of people you probably won't recognise from the odd flick you might have seen.
While the first movie wasn't perfect by any means, it had a robust script, a solid premise, and good actors (led by Peter Weller) ... the sequel has none of these things. The original didn't have a massive budget, but it really looked far more expensive than it was - The Hunting (generic enough sub-title for you?) on the other hand, just looks cheap. Really cheap. Despite a handful of grand CGI shots (such as the factory where the screamers originate) and some nice touches in the production design (some spiffing hand-held computer devices), the rest of the movie really feels cheap-as-chips, and this most definitely extends - in abundance - to the, frankly, atrocious script.
Incredibly, Screamers: The Hunting was written by the co-writer of the first movie (the other writer being Dan O'Bannon, he of Alien, and Return of the Living Dead fame) ... goodness knows what happened then, because the script for this sequel is lazy and generic - endlessly so. The characters are weakly drawn, and if they have any motivations at all, they're as done-to-death as the dialogue (which often repeats itself ad-nauseum), and idiotic as the plot. A ham-fisted 'ticking clock' device just makes the rescue team look even more moronic than they initially appear - they seemingly have so little time, yet they're forever bunking off work early to catch yet another nap. Furthermore, if the killing of the only black man on the team right up front wasn't a deliberate piss-take of a genre-convention, then deary me. Deary me indeed.
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As a fan of the first movie, the script is even more risible in that it ignores elements of the first film, while simultaneously dumbing down everything within its scope. The over-loading of cut 'n' paste plot elements knows no bounds - the distress signal, the rescue team, the ragged band of survivors, the ticking clock, one character's greed evidenced by stealing the files relating to screamers production, the list goes on - interminably so. Then when you add in the sheer volume of idiotic decisions made by the dull-as-ditch-water characters (clearly the ragged band of survivors don't give a stuff about security, freely allowing strangers to wander their facility unguided so they can discover something they shouldn't), you can't help but feel yourself getting dumber the longer you watch. Even in terms of moving the balsa wood plot forward, the film lurches from beat-to-eye-rolling-beat; dialogue exchanges can at times prove wince-inducingly painful to behold after tonal gear changes have ground the flick to a halt. To say that this 90 minutes feels long - very long - is an understatement.
The only respite comes when Lance Henriksen turns up - for all of fifteen minutes - as the original creator of the screamers. His time in the flick is brief, and essentially pointless for the viewer (his name is there to be used, along with that of Philip K. Dick, to sucker in viewers), and even though the man turns up in far too much dross, Henriksen really shows up the other actors who I'm sure have done far better work elsewhere, because here ... well, no, just no. Even the score is naff - I barely noticed it was there.
The only reason I ended up with this junk on my DVD shelf is because the original - far superior - film was included, and all for £2. The original still holds up to this day (a few dated SFX shots aside), possessing strong direction, strong acting, strong production design, and most importantly of all - a strong script full of satisfying ideas and back story (the thanks for that must surely go to Dan O'Bannon, because his absence in "The Hunting" could never be clearer). Then, as if to add insult to injury, when you watch the 'making of' documentary on the disc, you're overwhelmed by a sense that everyone involved either had a total lack of awareness of just how bad this endeavour was, or they were lying through their teeth when claiming that they were making a quality movie.
Quite frankly, it's this sort of dreck that really offends me, as someone trying to break into the film & television industries. You often hear the sentiment "I could have made something better than that", and oftentimes it's a throwaway statement by any random punter off the street ... but I'm going to be bold and honest enough to say that yes, I could have scripted something far better that this load of old pish, and I bloody well mean it in all seriousness.
Suffice to say, Screamers: The Hunting is 5% decent, and 95% sheer, total, utter, incomprehensible, bland-as-wallpaper-paste, piss-poorly written, forgettably-directed, cheap-looking, generic-to-the-nth-degree shite.