Monday, August 23, 2010

CLONE HUNTER

Inexpensive digital effects technology has made certain film genres that used to be far beyond the financial reach of low-budget indie filmmakers much more feasible. For example, science fiction space operas. Unfortunately, cheap spaceship effects and "virtual sets" alone cannot carry even a sci-fi movie, as is evident in director Andrew Bellware's CLONE HUNTER (2009).

In the distant future, the wealthy and powerful have achieved a virtual immortality by repeatedly transplanting their brains into fresh, cloned versions of themselves. Unfortunately for one such rich individual, his artificially-grown replacement has proven to have a mind of his own, escaping and setting himself up as a crimelord. Worse, he's threatened to destroy the planet if his "father" doesn't turn over his entire fortune. Enter Cain (Benjamin Thomas) and his new partner Rachel (Angela Funk, ALIEN UPRISING), professional "clonehunters," who are hired to track down and kill the renegade clone.

While the basic premise is sound, CLONEHUNTER is frankly dreary and dull. Most of the film consists of Cain and Rachel going from one dimly-lit intergalactic cantina to another, trying to track down the renegade replicant, with intermittent action sequences that are laughably executed. The big action set-piece of the film, a hover-bike chase, is an extremely poor mash-up of shoddy greenscreen and amateurish CGI.

The acting from Bellware's stock company (according to the IMDb, most of the cast has only appeared in his films) isn't awful, but neither is anyone particularly memorable. Most regrettably, lead Ben Thomas comes across more like a weary truck driver than a badass bounty hunter.

I guess it's admirable that director Andrew Bellware's filmmaking ambitions are so high - this is his fourth or fifth micro-budgeted genre effort - but, at least in this case, there's no juice. The PR compares this to Roger Corman's 80's and 90s sci-fi fare, but aside from meager budgets, there's no comparison. CLONEHUNTER just plain lacks any of the exploitative elements or energy that even Corman's worst productions usually possessed. The poor effects and cheap-looking production design would be a lot easier to excuse if the movie had some narrative thrust, surprises or sense of humor, but it doesn't.

The DVD from Lifesize Entertainment presents CLONE HUNTER in 2.35 anamorphic widescreen, with 5.0 Dolby Digital surround. Supplemental features include a director's commentary, a director's interview, photos, and outtakes.

As a fan of low-budget sci-fi, I always want to like these sorts of independent genre productions, but, unfortunately, CLONEHUNTER just doesn't quite cut it. Not recommended.

BUY: Clone Hunter (Ws Dol)