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Most disaster flick rely on the unimaginable power that can be exerted is frequently devastating. Versions of such events are often in the news with accounts of tsunamis and earthquakes that can reshape the very map of our globe. The film ‘Behemoth’ takes this concept to novel, albeit incredulous levels by featuring a gigantic subterranean creature bent on obliterating mankind. Such a huge creature lying dormant for millennium provides a story with a mythological scope. The one factor that many will use to deride this flick is that it is part of the SyFy channel’s so called ‘Saturday Night Specials’; movies produced by the network specifically to fill the void in Saturday prime time television programming. Typically the movies are done with the bargain budget less than $5 million, this particular offering requiring a mere $1.3 million; hardly enough to provide meals and snacks on a normally budgeted flick. Considering what they had to work with and an undoubtedly brief shooting schedule, they did a respectable job. Just how well you appreciate the merits of this film may have more than the usual influence Baby Boomer you grew up watching the golden age of ‘B’ science Fiction flick where zippers were obvious running down the back of the monster. I have noticed that those of us who were introduced to the genre in the fifties are more tolerant of marginal or even outright bad special effects. A similar phenomenon is observable across the pond with the fans of Doctor Who that can recite all eleven actors portraying the character. Younger fans seem jaded by being born after the computer revolution and demand a higher quality of effects. I don’t blame the youngsters at all I understand their point of view but they are missing out on the pure child like fun of a classic monster movie. one that fits the bill nicely and even manages to be on the list of better made SyFy original movies is the one under consideration here; ‘Behemoth’. It’s a little better in its production than the usually pop corn flick and ultimately entertaining.

Rachelle S. Howie makes his entrance into the world of screenplays with this script. He did an admirable job for one thing he took a page from a very famous movie, ‘Jaws’ understanding that if the special effects are not as expected use it as an opportunity to build suspense. The movie is only an hour and a half in length but the creature populating this feature makes its first brief appearance almost a full thirty minutes into the flick. You don’t get the full reveal until the dénouement is about to unfold. This does have the effect of putting the focus on telling a story rather than showing off the prowess of a computer graphic artist. The story makes an honest attempt to tell a story with many similarities to religious and mythological end of the world scenarios. In this case the problematic creature, the titular ‘Behemoth’ a reptilian gargantuan with tentacles extending out for miles and a body that invades through the crust of the planet. The first indication of the beast occurs on Mount Lincoln near the town of Ascension in the great American Northwest. In usual fashion for a disaster flick thing start off slowly; just giving the audience a hint or two about what is about to happen. The ground shakes near the mountain releasing a silent killer, carbon dioxide. Heavier than air it suffocates silently slaying those close to the ground first. Emily Allington (Pascale Hutton) is a government geologist studying the frequent tremors displayed by the mountain, made more urgent by the mysterious deaths. Two of the instrumentation arrays are malfunctioning necessitating a personal inspection by Emily. Her ex-boyfriend, Thomas (Ed Quinn) brings ‘Bounty Msn rugged to a new lever as the handsome deep woods logger. His father, William (William B. Davis) is a local eccentric always espousing some far reaching theory or another. This is a source of concern for both Thomas and his kid sister, Grace (Cindy Busby. She and her not overly bright boyfriend, boyfriend Jerrod (James Kirk) just happen to be out on an inopportune camping trip. This plot device is necessary in order to create a string sense of undeserved misfortune. Meanwhile a special government agents, Jack Murray (Ty Olsson) is out on a mission to detect and report on singularities; events so profound that they alter the course of the planet. The ‘Behemoth’ is exactly what he hoped to find. There are a few timely comic breaks such as Jerrod’s well rehearsed marriage proposal is interrupted by the sudden appearance of the giant eye of the behemoth. The film may deem slowly placed but as noted this is because the story is dependent on exposition and story development. Most of the disaster film archetypes are present from the beautiful scientist to the doddering old man who knows more than anyone gives him credit for. Each trope receives sufficient elaboration in order to garner audience understanding and interest. The cinematography is much better than you would think for a production of such limited resources. Much of this has to do with the stylistic ability of the director, David Hogan. I’ve reviewed the Spike TV series of his, deadliest warrior which pitted combatants from different culture against each other and I found myself greatly impressed with how he paced something unusual like that. In all this was one of the better flick on SyFy in recent years.

Posted 03/29/11

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