DNAReviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 01/10/03 21:54:30
If there's one benefit to watching Virus and DNA, it's in the realization that special effects technicians, no matter how skilled in that field, should never take part in any other task on a film shoot. John Bruno, the head special effects man from The Abyss, was given $75m to shoot the hilariously stupid sci-fi movie Virus, starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Billy Baldwin, and he did such a shitty job that the film barely made $14m back. Even the special effects were crap, which is inexcusable for a director versed in the trade. In DNA, an even more hilariously stupid sci-fi thriller starring Mark Dacascos, the writing duties were handed to Nick Davis, one of the special effects guys behind both Harry Potter films, Pluto Nash and The Fugitive. Clearly Davis is a crappy writer, though that's no crime - there are plenty of crappy writers making a good living in Hollywood. No, where Davis commits a crime (literally) is in stealing entire scenes from other movies - Alien, Predator, Species, Jurassic Park. There's no explaining this away by saying it's a homage, this guy has plain and simply stolen from other films, and not even in a good way. It's the worst case of plagiarism I've ever seen on the big screen.So Mark Dacascos is a doctor in Borneo. His benefactor (a slumming Jurgen Prochnow) has secretly been messing with some sort of alien monster forest creature, trying to turn him into a sellable 'soldier' for foreign armies. Of course, the monster breaks free, but not until after a scene in which the scientist tries to lure the monster out with a cow in a cage. Jurassic Park anyone?
Then we bring in the love interest, who for some reason never comes close to being a love interest... or anything for that matter. She doesn't act well, she doesn't look hot, she doesn't take her shirt off, she's not important to any of the scenes, she just tags along, gets dirty and makes you think that maybe there'll be a nipple shown at some point. Get those ideas out of your head early.
So then we get the little local kid who's quick with the one-liners (Indiana Jones anyone?), a monster that looks like it was completely copied from James Cameron's Alien storyboards, and then a Predator-style showdown where the monster (which can turn invisible and has infra-red vision) pursues Dacascos as he sets jungle traps designed to kill the thing. Amazing how a doctor in Borneo can learn commando tactics while giving diahorea injections to peasants.
Now see if you can pick which movie this comes from - when the leads are wet and lying in the mud, the monster's infrared vision can't see them.
Unbelievable gall. Watching this flick is like watching someone sticking CD's in their jacket for ninety minutes. You keep thinking that, surely, they've stolen enough, but they just keep on thieving. That Davis would even put his name to this criminal act speaks volumes for his lack of integrity. Yeah, that's right Davis, I'm calling you a bottomfeeder. Defend yourself, explain why this happened, tell us you got reamed by a producer, anything - or forever be known as a thief.
As for the rest of this film, it's god awful. Thankfully, Dacascos manages to wait until the last ten minutes of the film to pull off his usual "must remove shirt" routine, but any happiness that brings is lost in the worst special effects you're likely to ever see.
The director of this mess is yet another effects guy turned filmmaker, and once more he proves my earlier point that this is a recipe for disaster. For a guy who makes his living with effects, to see the awful work on display here is just mind-boggling. You could create better effects than those seen in this film with a copy of "Flash for Dummies". One particular scene, where a crashing helicopter suddenly turns into a crashing model of a helicopter, which then turns into the worst blue screen effect I've ever witnessed, will honestly leave you dumber for having witnessed it. Likewise, when the monster is in close-up, it's a guy in a rubber suit. When it's actually foing anything, it turns into the kind of animated figure that Ray Harryhausen would have pissed on.Best guess is that Porchnow was only available for three or four days, so he disappears for most of the film, which can only be counted as a lucky break for him. this is honestly a complete balls-up from top to bottom, and it's justice that neither the writer nor director have strayed out of the effects room since. And John Bruno, the guy that directed Virus? He's given up directing too. Remember this when you wonder if there's a god.
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