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This movie offers some textbook examples of why most low-budget sci-fi
movies are bad.
(1) A story scope that way exceeds the budget. I don't know what the budget for this movie was, but they clearly didn't have the money to pull off what they were trying for. If you've only got a million bucks or whatever to make a movie, you're better off making a small sci-fi movie rather than try and pull off a BIG movie with lots of sets, CG FX, action scenes, and characters. The result is, you don't have enough money for realistic sets, good CG FX, and good actors. THe final result is sort of like throwing some chrome on the bumper and adding leather seats to a ford pinto and trying to sell it off as a Cadillac. It so doesn't look like a Cadillac that it becomes an unintentional farce.
(2) It's too derivative of other sci-fi classics, in this case Stargate.
(3) The tone of the story is all over the place because of the varied acting styles/talent levels. The lead actor, C. Thomas Howell, clearly thinks he's in a bad movie and is giving a performance that wavers between phoning it in and camp.. Perhaps he thought it was a bad movie because he spent so much screen time with a really bad actor who's name I thankfully don't know, and maybe Howell was just staying on his level. Now at times, chewing the scenery fits if the movie isn't taking itself seriously, but this movie is trying to take itself seriously.
David Chokachi and the blond actress on the other hand seem to be in a completely different movie than Howell in both tone and look, and are actually pretty good and are taking the movie seriously and acting in a very naturalistic style. Chokachi in particular was really good, but his good performance only sort of magnified how off most of the other acting was. And then there's this third movie that's sort of a soap opera on Mars, and they think they're doing Shakespearian theater, very theatrical and over the top stylistically.
Plotwise, I gave up trying to fathom it at about the 1 hour mark. I don't mind complicated story lines when they're interesting, but when they're not, the movie just lays there. When you're well into a movie and you all the sudden cut to a title card reading "8 years before", you know you've got severe story structure problems. It's one thing when it's the Godfather part 2, but I didn't get why they had this scene. If I didn't know better and if I actually hadn't seen various actors together in the same scenes occasionally, I'd think this movie was an amalgamation of three different movies directed by three different directors. Towards the end of the 2nd act, it's as if the movie knows that it makes no sense, so an alien comes in and gives a long expository scene to try and explain the movie a little. By this time I didn't care.
In other words, a total waste of time unless you want to watch all the ways a movie can go wrong.
Don't accuse me of expecting "Chinatown" here, because I already know
the Sci-Fi Chanell has limited means. That said, limited means are no
reasonable excuse for limited imagination or vision.
So, it's the future again and one of the not so friendly corporations that control Earth has sent a mission to Mars (there have been quite a few if those lately) to find an everlasting and inexpensive power source. Naturally they crash land in an almost half-exciting, almost well-executed scene which displays good planning ruined by the usual weak CGI. Soon the crew start to die and we find out that one of the crew is a government spy and that Mars is not a dead planet.
Every movie this network makes is either a format genre flick we've seen a million times before or a blatant rip-off of a popular film. At first, "Crimson Force" looks like it's going to be an "Alien" rip-off with shades of "Total Recall". But then the crew enter a "pyramid" (quotes because it has five sides) and get caught up in a power struggle between the ruling classes of Mars's surviving inhabitants. I think we were meant to be reminded of "Dune", but since the sets are so obviously small, the costumes so inexpensive, and the population so sparse, it reminds one more of a sadder incarnation of the 30s "Flash Gordon" serials. The way the second half plays out you'll likely wish they'd just finished ripping off "Alien" and been done with it.
To pad the running time (since the Martian plot is not all the complicated as it's written), our pretty-boy hero Ambrose is given flashbacks which explain why he's conflicted about working for the corporation, which in turn are a set-up to a typical made-for-TV character choice. The results aren't exactly deep. Most of the characters come with a whole two dimensions, including C. Thomas Howell's unlikeable Captain, the two "babes", the guys with accents, and the single non-white male.
The film was not necessarily a bad idea. But an idea is only the beginning and a lot can (and did) go wrong along the way. Apart from the terrible effects and the constraints of the budget, there's the direction. This was advertised as some kind of epic, so the director tries to emphasize how big everything is (the spaceship, the pyramid, the interiors...), which unfortunately just reveals how small the sets really are. If they'd tried some location shooting for once the viewer might not suffer claustrophobia from watching these "epics".
One star for an okay idea, a second for reminding me that I could do it better.
The script appears to have been written by someone who mixed up his
notes in Screen writing 101 and used everything s/he'd been warned NOT
to use. The characters are 2-dimensional and predictable. The
conventions are as hackneyed as they come. And the editor must have
been gone through several bags of Pixie Stix before firing up the
equipment, because the cuts are fast, furious and distract from, rather
than enhance, the story.
The latter may be a blessing in disguise, come to think of it.
The music is cobbled together from a variety of sources, including some that 'World of Warcraft' players should quickly recognise.
If this review is uninspired, it only reflects this plodding, pointless waste of film. It is an utterly regrettable enterprise.
This movie is dodgy, plain and simple. In some sequence you can easily tell that the characters are animated in-particularly the rock climbing shots. It wasn't even good animation. In another shot, the camera is all over the place. The camera man must has being shaking like mad. This is not acceptable in a modern day sci-fi flick but yet this movie was allowed to do it. Apart from that, the storyline is weak also. It all seemed like an episode of Stargate. The alien intrusion on Earths History, the staf like weapons and the dodgy looking crests here and their just gave the film a look of stargate rip-off which is just not on. Fair enough, originality is hard to get these days as almost all ideas have been done at some stage but to copy big elements so glaringly is the sign that the producers were half asleep when they were doing this picture. The acting was OK however but again not the best. Overall this film is a poor sci-fi flick so check out other sci-fi movies if you want to be entertained.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie isn't that bad for the Sci-fi Channel. I noticed another
person bashed it based on the first 14 minutes. Let me assure you it
gets better. I honestly got the feeling the writer and/or director had
some talent, because he seemed to know which actors to kill off, and
which one's to let live.
The movie plays like a mixture of "Stargate SG-1" (the aliens speak English except when it sounds cooler to do otherwise) and "John Carter of Mars" (breeding with aliens, and the notion that martians live only through a fragile system of atmosphere preservation). I got the feeling, however, that it was being made by people who knew they'd have to use clichés to get through on time and on budget, but tried to be different where they could.
One of the most interesting aspects of the movie is the origin of mankind. It's actually a mixture of two old clichés, in a way I haven't seen before: 1. Aliens sent their criminals to another planet.
2. The aliens bred with the women of Earth (little more than apes then).
While the pure aliens died off from the disease in our atmosphere (as those that sent there their were 99% sure they would) before the first human was born, it seems that we humans survived. The aliens, after much deliberation, decided they couldn't just wipe us out, and over time (another cliché) used us to help them gather resources from Earth.
The motives in this movie are fairly simple, but not always totally black-and-white. In the end, you get what you pay for (divide your cable bill by all the movies and shows you watch per month for the price): A decent Sci-fi flick, if a rather silly one.
This movie was left open-ended for a sequel. To be honest, I think a show could be worked from it, although it isn't the obvious back-door pilot of many Sci-fi Channel movies. I would certainly tune in to see what happens next.
How can a channel called the *SCI-FI* Channel be so horrible at
creating movies which appeal to its core audience? Sadly, SFC tends to
brag about it's long line of "original pictures"; none of which are
worth watching, especially by fans of the Sci-Fi genre.
Crimson Force is no exception. More space-drama-eye-candy which neither captures the imagination nor stirs the mind. I agree with a previous poster - "who writes this stuff anyway"? It was like warmed over meatloaf. You already have had plenty of it before you began. It would be nice to see something come from SFC which actually seems to have been written by someone with an advanced brain. Crimson Force seems to have been aimed at teenagers who have never seen enough Sci-Fi to recognize how hackneyed and pedestrian this drivel is.
I won't commenting on the acting. It's not worth the typing.
SciFi Channel needs to learn to appeal to SCIENCE FICTION FANS when it creates ORIGINAL pictures. Give us something which gives us something to THINK about or, at least, stirs our imagination. Quit ignoring your CORE audience! Enough of the typical brain-dead Hollywood style drivel. We don't care if it looks like it was created in someone's back yard - just so that it has a GOOD IDEA and is written by someone with more than a room temperature IQ.
Is there a rating of minus stars that I can assign to this waste of time? Because awful is just too generous. Here is a more accurate description. Grade Z, jerked off and rated S for silly. Good science fiction does not have to be chained to scientific plausibility(hence the genre) However if the characters do not behave in a plausible fashion and the plot shows no imagination then we are left with a film like "Crimson Force". Another pathetic offering from the sci fi channel. Speaking of which who are they making these lame brained movies for. Certainly no one who wants to be entertained by intelligent science fiction. They must get the scripts for their movies from essays written in middle school.....wait come to think of it there I go being too generous again.
Well, really what else is there to say? It was bad...REAL bad. During the exceptionally overacted dialog, I kept waiting for a punchline. Surely this had to be a comedy. But no, every line was delivered with such melodramatic sincerity, that I realized that it was just bad. C. Thomas Howell, in the years since we have seen him, has apparently attended the George Takei School of Acting, or non-acting, as the case may be. He was horrible. I have to ask myself and fellow viewers, when they make a movie like this, do the actors know it's that bad as they say each line that's horrifically worse than the last one? Is it that hard to find quality work in Hollywood? Yikes! I'll keep my day job, which by the way, is not as a professional movie critic.
I disagree with the negative comments on this board. The movie was fun
and fast moving. It looked good compared to most of the Sci-Fi network
movies, and had a complex and interesting story.
There was a lot of humor in the movie. C. Thomas Howell was funny on purpose, which lightened the tone.
The movie was like the more complex X-Files episodes. If you paid attention to the plot you really got something out of it. Once you get through all of the exposition in the first 15 minutes, the movie really starts to move and it all starts to really make sense. Some other information is held back until near the end of the movie, which is good because I was surprised by a few things. All my questions were answered by the end. I like not knowing everything right at the beginning. If you know everything, the movie is boring since you know what's going to happen and how it's going to end. This movie feeds you key information over time and it's fun to figure out the politics and alliances. Good job!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Crimson Force was one of the many Sci Fi Network original movies. From
what I've read, these movies are done at a scant budget somewhere
overseas. They are usually hit or miss. Crimson Force was actually the
best one of these I've seen - and I watch many of them. The visuals and
effects were better than Star Trek. The acting was fine for this type
of movie - lots of known actors who are fun to watch. Most of all, the
script was smartly self-aware. The writers seem to have understood all
of the conventions of the genre and played with them. (Small spoiler -
For example, the African-American character *keeps* surviving, rather
than dying 1st... it's a funny way to satirize what usually happens in
this kind of movie, and it was great they did this). There are other
examples of good satire but I don't want to put in another spoiler.
The plot is based on the conspiracy and UFO-alien theories you'll find all over the web about Mars. In fact Crimson Force goes much deeper into this kind of thing than did Mission To Mars, which is a big-budget movie. You'll have fun Googling a bunch of stuff after watching the movie. Even the name the martians have for their own planet is an inside reference that listeners of "Coast to Coast" will probably get. Also, unlike most low budget science fiction movies, Crimson Force isn't straightforward. It leads you in one direction and then switches things up. There is humor - on purpose - and suspense and adventure. Some of the characters even grow and change! This isn't your normal straight-ahead guys-with-guns-chasing-a-giant-monster genre movie (though there is plenty of fun action).
Anyway this movie is surprisingly fun, and if you pay attention it's even smart.
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