Terrordactyl
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Terrordactyl

I seriously doubt that there is a single cinephile the best that the cinematic art has to offer. Considering for most of our lifelong effect maturation movies began before the relative elementary school the likelihood of our favorite films would include such lofty works as ‘Citizen Kane’ or ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. The very first movie I ventured out in my own but I was about seven years of age and it took the subway to see ‘King Kong Versus Godzilla’. This and other films the sweeping category of creature features is more likely to be the genre that will forever leave us hooked on the magic infused in motion pictures. I frequently debated with the aficionados a younger age as to why a more lenient movies that they consider to be absolutely awful and beyond redemption. Having grown up watching monster movies for the creature is in an age griller outfit with rips in the seams so extreme you can see his shirt underneath, it creates a foundation of tolerance, the ability to see past the truly wretched special-effects and be able to enjoy the movie the reason it was made, casual entertainment. For most of us that seven-year-old Griffin us still exist and are able to overlook movies that are not able to even come close to the spectacular CGI effects so commonplace today. This particularly true of creature features mentioned above, it is much like going on an amusement park ride. You sit down anticipating being entertained even though you fully understand that the thrills and frightening experience is contrived and controlled. When watching movies such as the one on the consideration here, ‘Terrordactyl’, this is exactly the frame of mind you have to be able to attain. Both of us in the previous generation of had considerably more practice in doing so and therefore making certain to temporarily disabling ability for critical thinking and return to the simple time in the neighborhood movie theater was our main source of having fun.

Those that have commented on this flick inevitably cite how the story is a typical, ‘by the numbers ‘monster movie devoid of even an iota of originality. While I cannot contest this observation once again the degree to which this statement is a pejorative is heavily dependent on perspective. The traditional creature feature is written by having the screenwriter utilizing a template very much akin to a game of ‘Mad-Libs’. First the type of creature is specified; extinct dinosaur, next the author specifies whether one big monster or many smaller ones. This is crucial in determining if a grand solution is necessary for the third act or if a number of the creatures can be sacrificed producing a prolonged effect. Then it is a matter of filling in the human, principle cast; the strong leading man, the nerd with scientific acumen and, of course, the attractive young woman. The co-director and screenwriter, Don Bitters III, dutifully check off each item in succession leaving sufficient budget remaining for computer rendered antagonists. Being able to recognize this format did deliver a feeling of nostalgia.

Jonas (Jason Tobias) and Johnny (David Landry) have been best friends for most of their lives and current work together in the auto repair business , well Jonas does the majority of the actual physical labor while Johnny tinkers with an unending line of with own strange inventions. For example he came up with a shovel with an umbrella secured to the handle; ideal for digging in the rain or under the hot sun. Most of these contraptions display some degree of ingenuity and imagination but never are brought to fruition. As per their usual routine they stop off in the local bar for some beers although for Johnny the main attraction is his infatuation with the waitress, Candice (Candice Nunes); pretty and with sufficient confidence to ward off the perpetual unwanted advances of the drunken patrons. One of the most persistent and least harmful is an older man, Sampson (Jack E. Curenton), a source of wildly outrageous stories. They hear news that there is a particularly heavy meteor shower raining down on the region. Candice, a self-taught polymath, informs the guys that some meteorites can bring a hefty price from museums and private collectors. Drawn by the chance of money there for collecting, the guys go off to grab some space rocks, unaware that they brought much more than minerals from the cosmos.

They only manage to get away with one very unusual object from the debris field, an ovoid specimen with a rough exterior, out of the skies swoops in a pterodactyl that dives upon their truck almost killing them. They only get away when it lands on the hood of the truck and Jonas breaks abruptly dislodging the creature and then runs over it crushing it to death. They go to Candice to boast about their find. Johnny is anxious just at the thought of being near her wanting to ask her out but unable to overcome his shyness. Once there they get to meet her roommate, the hedonistically inclined Valerie (Bianca Haase). Within moments more of the winged reptiles attack forcing the four confused and terrified humans to drive off in great haste. The story unfolds as expected with the number of beasts steadily escalating until the sky is full of them. There are the obligatory chase scenes followed by the discovery of the nest and that, as if we all hadn’t figured out long before, the strange rock is one on the creature’s eggs. They arrived within the meteors later explained in a belated moment of exposition, that the asteroid the eradicated the dinosaurs 65 million years ago blasted some back into space only to return the other night,

I found myself driven to watch the film again mostly because something didn’t seem to fit. There was something about this movie that intrigued me, a certain amount of craftsmanship that further reminded me of some of the cult classics from my youth and perhaps similar to the better SyFy Channel’s Saturday night original movies. The special effects were actually not that bad, the depiction of the creatures were realistic, considering the cost of creating them would barely pay for craft services on Jurassic World, it was particularly noticeable in how the wings fold back while the animal is walking or sitting. The attacks and battle sequences were well executed and the pacing was conducive to gaining and holding the interest of the audience. The film has gained a negative impression largely because, I surmise, the critics came of age during the recent era of incredibly realistic and polished special effects. Their expectation has been raised to demand nothing less. This resulted in masking the fact that this movie achieved the goal of providing a couple of hours of enjoyment. I can state unequivocally that this is a reasonably good popcorn flick. It only seems to be available outside region 1 on disc but is on the major VOD services. The cost of a rental, soda and popcorn is worth it.

Posted 06/18/2016

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