Wednesday, April 13, 2011

BEHEMOTH

Director W.D. Hogan's BEHEMOTH (2011) is a somewhat better than average modern monster movie with a cool creature, a good cast, and an otherwise decent script that, unfortunately, falls down badly in the flick's final moments.

The small mountain town of Ascension is being rocked by unusual ground tremors. Fearing that the long-extinct volcano that towers over the community may be becoming active, a pretty young vulcanologist (Pascale Hutton) attempts to warn the local populace of the danger. It's a tough sell, and only local lumberjack Tom Walsh (Ed Quinn, EUREKA) is willing to help her out. Of course, Walsh's elderly father, a retired - and possibly senile - classics professor (William Davis, THE X-FILES), has a theory of his own, involving the end of the world and a great, destructive creature living beneath their feet....

Compared to most contemporary, shot-in-Canada for SyFy Channel monster mashes, BEHEMOTH is surprisingly entertaining (for most of its running time) and even fairly original. The script by Rachel Howie builds suspense logically and gradually, with an intriguing mystery and interesting, well-drawn characters. These characters are portrayed by an experienced and charismatic cast of Canadian TV veterans. As for the titular monster, the CGI special effects are somewhat more polished than usual, and the well-designed beastie itself is - refreshingly - not some pirahnaconda or octogator (both of which are trademarked, kids) or other genetically-engineered nightmare, but instead, something rather more unique.

On the down side: there's some obvious and irritating padding (never have two people had so much trouble climbing a simple stepladder) and a lot of budgetary-driven illogic (no way would the government, if it suspected the existence of such a threat, send only one guy to deal with it - especially not one as incompetent as the one portrayed here), and, most disappointingly, the ultimate defeat of the mountain-sized menace is unbelievably underwhelming (I won't spoil it, but think: slingshot vs. Godzilla). That said, though, BEHEMOTH is still marginally better than most of the movies aired on SyFy these days.

Vivendi Entertainment's DVD of BEHEMOTH is a solid but bare bones affair, with a sharp, 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and 5.1 audio. That's it, though - no bonus features (except for a couple of unrelated trailers before the movie) are provided.

BEHEMOTH is no classic, but... it has a different kind of monster, reasonably interesting characters, and a solid, genre-friendly cast that does the best it can with the material. For undemanding B-movie creature feature buffs, it should make an okay evening's rental.

BUYBehemoth