March 10, 1999

O Cruel, Cruel Davis. Another "scary" monster movie. The terrible monster? ELECTRICAL ENERGY!!!!

Electrical energy in the rough shape of a spaceship which passes through the beloved Russian Mir space station, that is. By passing through the space station it somehow inhabits the Mir's computer system or some such crap. It happens that the Mir is beaming down some sort of "data" to a Russian sea vessel during the alien's attack/invasion. Inadvertently the Mir also beams down this very boring and unimaginative monster. A salvage boat captained by Donald Sutherland (with an expendable crew save for Jamie Lee Curtis and L'il Billy Baldwin) comes upon the now-deserted research vessel and experiences high-spirited hijinx and underlit mayhem.

This alien monster must have pay TV wherever it's from for all the strangely familiar ways (and a few possible copyright infringements) it physicially manifests itself on the ship. It uses the machinery labs aboard the ship to construct spider-like robots, reminding one of the cute villains of the crappy 80's Michael Crichton movie Runaway. The monster also somehow creates a meld of machinery and man (using corpses) that looks very similar to Star Trek's stupid race the Borg. After one of these pseudo-Borgs is killed his chest splits open and a machine-like head leaps out, a nod to and a swipe from John Carpenter's The Thing. Overall, the whole feel of the movie stinks to high heaven of Alien, but what monster movie since 1980 hasn't?

Speaking of stinking to high heaven, how about Donald Sutherland? In the beginning of the film, after a rough storm causes him to lose a barge he is towing, he pulls out a gun in his cabin and prepares to shoot himself. He should have done it, but I guess it was in his contract to appear in at least two-thirds of the picture. Donny, if you have acted in a worse role, I (gladly) haven't seen it. His dumbass captain goes from not believing there is a monster on the ship directly to wanting to help the monster get to shore. He meets with the "main" alien, the ship's mainframe computer, and sees the decapitated head of a crew member and friend he says he's known "for 25 years." Instead of being horrified by this grisly sight, he smiles in reminiscence. The last we see of Sutherland he is a pseudo-Borg with robot legs and an overly hairy torso.

Jamie Lee Curtis and Billy Baldwin were pretty damned boring, just the obligatory chased idiots. I hoped for Ernie Hudson (the fourth Ghostbuster; y'know, the one who isn't funny) to come out of nowhere and rescue me from their stilted chokey acting, but I guess he wasn't available.

I'm not keeping an accurate count, but I think the Baldwin brothers taken as a whole might be edging out Jon Voight for sheer number of appearances at the Davis. I'll keep you informed. Perhaps in the near future I will make a bar graph!

See you at the movies. Save me the unstained seat.