Peter Hyams’ 1997’s creature-feature, The Relic, was a pretty good movie. It featured Tom Sizemore (despite his personal foibles, the man’s a damn good actor) as Lt. Vincent D’Agosta, who had to stop a mysterious killer who’s MO was beheading.
He follows the bodies to–if I recall–The Museum of Natural History, where something monstrous has returned home.
And it’s a good movie, but there’s one detail that’s a bit problematic. And that is that Agent Aloysius Pendergast was written out entirely.
Which is a shame because Agent Pendergast is one of the most interesting characters in the novels. Visualize a thin man of average hight, who’s an albino. This is an important detail because he’s a very natty dresser, and is occasionally described as a very well-dressed cadaver.
In terms of abilities, he’s what you might get if you crossed Sherlock Holmes (or maybe Solar Pons), with Indiana Jones and a ninja.
Luckily it appears this little oversight is about to be corrected because Gale Anne Hurd–of The Terminator, The Walking Dead, and many others–is developing a series based on the novels that will feature Pendergast for Spike TV, which is a very good thing indeed.
l admit that when I first saw Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey I thought that it was unwatchable. And when I use the word ‘unwatchable’ I don’t mean on a technical basis–it’s a gorgeous movie with practical special effects that stand up well today–instead I mean I found it almost unwatchably boring.
Recently I gave it another chance and watched it in its entirely over two days, and have come to realize that what I originally saw as boring was Kubrick’s almost clinical approach to the material.
Today, in most science fiction when a spaceship moves through space, there’s lots of noise–which is impossible, since there’s not enough air to carry sound.
Kubrick would have none of this, and modeled the space scenes after what would actually happened when a craft moved from place to place, which essentially means, on a aural level, nothing at all. I am unsure what’s behind the lack of visible propulsion, though you’d be surprised how quickly you notice the absence of all those sound effects.
Luke Hyams’ (no relation to Peter Hyams) The Beast of XMoor (X Moor) at first glance reminded me of Daniel Nettheim’s far superior The Hunter, which also revolves around the hunt for a cryptid (according to Wikipedia, an animal or plant who’s existence had been suggested but not discovered by the scientific community).
In the case of Nettheim’s movie the animal in question was a Tasmanian Wolf–which actually may still exist–while The Beast of XMoor‘s seek some sort of panther they suspect is hiding out on the moors.
The most immediate problem with the movie is that it doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. It begins as a search for an a cryptid, then makes a Wrong Turn, with two very rapey Scottish folk, then turns to a confusing serial killer story.
What’s worse–if that were possible–is that the killer is less a threat to the aspiring cryptozoologists than they are to each other.
The Beast of XMoor isn’t a terrible movie, it’s just very unfocused. If it were just about a cryptid–an interesting subject in and of itself–then it would have probably been a much better movie.
If the director had jettisoned the whole cryptid storyline, and instead made a movie about a serial killer, then it might have been a much better movie.
Or if the cryptid and serial killer storyline were abandoned, and instead the story revolved about a bunch of mad Scots, then it would have probably been much better movie.
But all three? It’s a bit too much.
Brave the moors of X Moor via Netflix, because otherwise there are too many ways to die.
I recently read a review, that claimed that John Hyams’ “Universal Soldier: Day Of Reckoning” was better than most of the ‘Universal Soldier’ films that were released theatrically (‘Day of Reckoning’ was direct to video). I am not sure if that’s the case, though it is more violent. And by ‘violent’ I mean lots of MMA-type violence that’s more physical than most are accustomed to seeing. And while I enjoy that most of the effects on display are practical, it’s a brutal film, though there’s something to be said about the way it doesn’t glorify any of the acts of physical violence on display.
The plot is more complex than traditionally found in films of this nature, and works best if you let it unfold at its own pace, because there’s a logic to the presentation, though you’ll won’t see it unless you sit through the entire film.
Jean-Claude Van Damme, as the film progresses, seems to be channeling Col. Kurtz from Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now,” which can’t be a coincidence. All the other characters seem to exist just to get the stuffing beat out of each other, and don’t make much of an impression.
John Hyams happens be the son of Peter Hyams, who directed films like “Capricorn One,” “Time Cop,” “Outland,” and “The Relic,” among many others. John Hyams filmography isn’t quite as extensive, though it’s growing.