Tuesday, April 10, 2012

'Xtro 3' craters like a meteor strike

Xtro 3: Watch the Skies (1994)
Starring: Sal Landi, Andrew Divoff, Andrea Lauren Hertz, and Robert Kulp
Director: Director: Harry Bromley Davenport
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

A group of Marine demolitions experts are sent to a remote, deserted island to disarm explosives left over from WW2. As will happen, something goes wrong and they unleash an alien that has been trapped in a bunker for several decades. Gory mayhem ensues.

I've read in several places that director Harry Bromley Davenport says this is his favorite entry in the "Xtro" series. I can't for the life of me figure out why. As flawed as it was, the original "Xtro" is far more interesting on every level than this one... and far more competently made.

It's actually a shame that "Xtro 3" turned out as a textbook example of what happens when a low-budget film is made with a slip-shod attitude, because there was a lot of potential here.

The setting--a deserted jungle island that once housed interned Japanese and a secret research facility could have been a character unto itself and filled the movie with atmosphere if the cinematography and direction hadn't been as lifeless as an instructional video on how to navigate the Dewey Decimal System. The story of Marines stalked by a murderous alien creature could have been engaging if the script writer had taken time to research actual military protocols and behaviors, had spent some time making the characters interesting and distinct, and bothered to actually bothered to do more than one draft so the dialogue didn't sound like something written for a cheap voice-over of a Japanese sci-fi movie.

And speaking of characters, perhaps if the actors all didn't seem like they had been handed the script pages right before cameras started to roll but instead seemed like they were in character instead of simply delivering the bad lines, the audience could perhaps develop attachment to one or more of them. Although decent acting would not make up for the fact that illogical, plot-dictated behavior governs every action they take, because no one seems to have bothered to think scenes through.

Similarly, if someone had paid attention to costuming and continuity on the production, maybe generous-minded or entertainment-starved viewers would be able to suspend disbelief and engage with the film, despite the incompetent direction and script. However, the appearing and disappearing gear on characters and less effort put into costuming than you might put into getting dressed for lounging around the house on a Saturday when your friends are all out of town, make that impossible.

Finally, although the alien has possibilities to rival the creepy creature of the original "Xtro," it ends up more laughable than scary due to badly executed special effects and the aforementioned illogical, plot-dictated character behavior. Is there anyone reading this who has seen this film who didn't think like I did: "Why run when you can just kick it really hard?"

"Xtro 3" continues the decline of this series into crapitude. The only thing that keeps it from sinking to a Two Rating (and thus earning a place over at Movies You Should [Die Before You] See) is the alien's back story. It's a cool idea... and it's too bad that it is wasted in a movie like this one. (I won't give it away here, because it is one of the few decent story elements in the film.)

If your looking for something to round out a Bad Movie Night line-up, "Xtro 3: Watch the Skies" might be what you're looking for. You might, however, be better off actually watching the skies and identifying shapes in the clouds.

No comments:

Post a Comment