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Despite the presence of several veteran actors, Monster Ark amounts to little more than below-average horror shlock. The premise is mildly interesting - the recovery of an ancient manuscript suggesting that the Biblical Noah performed a prior task for God; constructing a previous Ark to serve as a prison for a monster unleashed by the Darkness (they don't go much into what exactly the Darkness was, because this is not a "thinking" movie). Needless to say, the monster is freed by the notably self-absorbed archaeologists to wreak havoc. All of this amounts to little more than a vehicle for a bad CGI-generated monster (who apparently has steak knives for forearms) to leap around hacking at people. It is also impervious to any man-made weapon, but often flees, anyway. Luckily, there is an ancient brotherhood created to protect us from this thing... though they seem pretty useless as far as the plot goes. The script deals with the numerous religious concepts raised by the usual half-hearted science-vs-religion lines, but nobody seems overly sorry about the fact that their mindless ambition has unloosed a killing machine - and possibly even the apocalypse- on an unsuspecting world. But this is supposed to be a horror film (not at all scary) with some action (not very exciting). But what do you expect from a film that supposedly takes place in Iraq but is shot in Bulgaria? Sure, there's a war on, but... A few brights spots - "Tiny" Lister stomping around snarling and shooting guns in an unintentionally funny role as a U.S. Army major, and the only two characters I didn't find annoying, Professor Nick's two students: lovely Amanda Crew and amusing Bill Parks (filling the token roles of young hottie and sarcastic nerd, respectively). It would have been more entertaining (and, oddly, more believable) as one of those teen-slasher films. Instead we get a ridiculous CGI creature leaping around the "desert" while a pack of idiots figures out what to do about it. It's nice to know Xena's side-kick can still get work, but do yourself a favor and pass on this one.
This is film-making of the shoddiest and laziest sort. Every scene is a
showcase for the writer/director's ignorance. O'Brien is completely
unfamiliar with science. He knows nothing of how scientists talk, how
they analyze, how they approach discovery. He is completely ignorant of
how military personnel think, how they process situations, how they
act, and how they carry themselves. O'Brien even misses the most basic
tenets of Christianity.
Had O'Brien spent the slightest amount of time with military men/women, or talked to an actual scientist, this film might have acquired a hint of credibility. But he chose to write out of an abundance of ignorance. The film suffers horribly as a result. The viewer, even more.
The film's low budget may explain the dreadful costumes, equipment (woodland cameo/olive drab Humvee in...IRAQ???), and effects. But the low budget doesn't justify O'Brien's willful ignorance about the material he wrote and directed.
Tim DeKay turns in a far better performance than a film like this deserves. Amanda Crew, while still learning her craft, provides welcome visual interest. But beyond these two minor bright points, nothing in this film justifies the writer/director's paycheck.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
1. A petrified ship can exist in one of the oldest countries on earth
but remain undiscovered until an American scientist decides to waltz
through the area. Then it will be found in about 10 minutes.
2. Guns are highly ineffective against an evil monster that pre-dates humanity, but keep shooting anyway.
3. An American man with super-slick hair runs the oldest secret society on earth.
4. If you're in a situation where death is most certain, just pray to God to not let you die that way. You will then be magically whisked out of danger, especially if you are a non-believer.
5. If you have faith in God, it is not necessary to have faith in humans, most notably your ex-spouse. You are free to be a mean, sarcastic, jealous, angry person.
6. A wooden box can remain perfectly intact after being buried for millenia, even when centuries of that time is under water.
7. If you accidentally let a timeless demon loose, a curly-haired Bulgarian will drop in to help save the day.
8. The person of the least amount of faith will prove to be the most useful in battles of good versus evil.
9. Xena's former sidekick is really a b - - - -.
10. Iraq is "the most dangerous place on the planet." Apparently, it beats out the Amazon, the Congo, the Outback, Antarctica, and that place where "Deadliest Catch" is filmed.
11. Capturing an ancient evil monster is grounds for automatic induction into a secret society. No background checks are required.
12. ALWAYS instruct the military on how to run its operations, especially when they have all the knowledge, experience, equipment, and weapons... and you're just a sniveling lab jockey.
13. The legends are always true.
14. An ancient staff is usually involved in saving the world (which you can have as a keepsake if you're successful)
15. If you find a big old wooden box in the desert, don't open it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A disclosure: I was actually looking forward to seeing this. I saw a
titillating advertisement on the Sci Fi Channel regarding MONSTER ARK
and thought, "Doesn't this sound like an interesting idea? A Noah's Ark
filled with monsters somehow drifts into the present age?" Guess I got
a little ahead of myself, because this is nothing but another in the
Channel's endless barrage of CGI monster movies, squandering that
clever concept in favor of a single creature of "darkness." One
creature. Apparently, God commanded Noah to build an ark to transport
this creature to the end of the world, drop it off, and then swim home
to build another ark.
I feel for this director. I can see the wheels turning now: "Well, the concept isn't so great, but as long as I have a good script it will all be okay. What do you mean I wrote it? That's not good. Have you seen the rest of my credits? Okay, okay. Forget about that. The script might not be any good, but as long as I've got some great actors to pull it off... What do you mean the most visible of them is an ex-wrestler? And he's going to scream every one of his lines? Well, I'll make due, as long as I have an understated score to make everything creepy. What's that you're saying? It's going to sound like the charge of the light brigade? Well, forget all that. I can save this picture. All it needs is a great monster. That's all people really want to see, anyway. I'll just give them a wonderful, spine-chilling monster! What do you mean we can't afford a monster? You can't be serious. You're going to have someone design it with Lego's?" Better he just cross it off his resume and get on with his life. But this is the guy that brought us ROCK MONSTER, so maybe he considers MONSTER ARK a step up.
Let me be honest: this almost got my vote in the "so bad it's good" category. It's inept in so many ways that it becomes hilarious. My absolute favorite has to be Amanda Crew's character. She plays a "Research Assistant" for college Professor Tim DeKay...and does it entirely with a bared midriff. It doesn't matter what she's doing, she's got her shirt hiked up to expose her belly: in the lab, on the University grounds, in a military outpost filled with soldiers. She does it despite the presence of the Professor's wife (who divorced him because she believed he had an affair with a previous "Research Assistant"). But the most wonderfully offensive incidence has to be when she travels to a Muslim country, into a combat zone in Iraq, dressed this way. My mouth hung open in disbelief.
Thank heavens Declan O'Brien, the writer/director of this travesty, tied it up in the most offensive fashion he could: by showing the fallacy of Muslim belief, the inferiority of the Iraq people, and the crowning truth of the Judeo-Christian faith. That'll teach those savages! Unbelievable.
Hell, I'm getting addicted to these Sci-fi original productions showing
on cable, but boy there are some stinkers amongst the charmers and
sadly 'Monster Ark' is a dud. The premise actually sounded tolerant,
but what came of it was not. After a somewhat imaginative opening, it
becomes your stock-like monster on the rampage yarn leaving a small
group of people to stop the problem. Its biblical horror set in a
war-torn Iraq. When I mean biblical, it's the context of the film, and
the sub-plot between the two main leads and that of religious faith.
One who questions it and the other who does not. Where love and
redemption wins out
lovely. And to set in Iraq
what an inspired
Archaeologist Nicholas Zavaterro along with his grad students discover a vase with an ancient manuscript informing them of the whereabouts of Noah's first ark that imprisoned a monster known as the darkness. Zavaterro, his grad students and his ex-wife/archaeologist head to Iraq to where it is. Along with some babysitting American Soldiers they discover the ark and find a crate which they obviously open and unleash the darkness.
Actually outlining the premise is really starting to bore, and when the darkness is released it's an unconvincing monster (an awful looking design leftovers from a video game?) in clunky CGI breaking out total chaos. Rather unexciting chaos though. Jittery editing and shaky camera-work is plain tiring, as it sloppily moves. But the damaging aspect is the very dodgy script with its preachy/forceful messages it was like a bad tooth ache. A towering Tommy 'Tiny' Lister's Sergeant character gave me a good laugh though, as he truly chew up his lines (enthusiastically) and then spits them out. Renée O'Connor was an itch that wouldn't go away and Tim DeKay is typically modest. Amanda Crew is wasted in a low-key role as one of the students. One thing, why does everybody have to yell out their lines? Declan O'Brien's direction is slick, but feels empty and goes for clichéd devices. Claude Foisy's eerily rippling score on the other hand was perfectly balanced and infused in to the film.
Lame, tacky and a drag. Simple as that.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Aside from the really bad acting, mediocre special effects (did they
even HAVE a budget for this film) and scenes ripped from Raiders of the
Lost Ark, my biggest problem with this was the lack of suspense when
introducing the monster.
With any good monster movie (for example the first Alien film), they often don't show the monster in full at first. They often show brief glimpses of the creature, thus building up suspense and keeping you guessing what the monster looks like. But here, it's more like "oh, there's a monster trapped in a crate... WOW! There's the monster! Well, we've seen what it looks like now, no need to worry about building it up". That is poor in my opinion and you quickly lose interest in it.
That's this movies biggest problem in general. There is no build up to anything. They talk about something, then it happens almost instantly. Talk about cheap! Overall, it's a very poor attempt at doing a sci-fi monster story. If you get a chance to avoid it, I'd say do so!
The only reason why I tuned in to see this movie is that the monster
looked really cool in the previews. As it turns out that is the only
good thing about this movie.
The story is that college professor Nicholas and two of his students discovers a urn. They take the urn back to America and have Nicholas's ex-wife Ava open it. Inside they find the original book of Genesis. Ava decodes it and discover that Noah had made a second ark to banish demonic monster, but the ark crashed and sinked in Iraq. So just like that the team heads over to Iraq with no problem from the government. There they meet hard ass Iraqui Captian Backhar. Together they find this "Monster Ark" and open the cage holding the monster. The monster escapes and goes on a rampage. Captian Backhar fail to stop the monster with raw fire power. Team then figures out that they must get Noah's staff to stop the monster, but the offspring of Noah are protecting it and won't hand it over so easily. Nicholas now must learn to have faith in order to stop the monster.
The Monster was the only thing that kept me watching. The acting was below average. The director inserted a sub-plot between Nicholas and Ava about them not trusting each other. He also add moments to create chemistry between characters, but these fail. The chemistry seemed fake and the sub-plot wasn't though out well enough.
The special effects on the monster where good enough but still looked fake. The Monster design was awesome but the movement needed work. The flash back scenes of the ark where completely CGI and look like something out of a 90's video game.
If you are looking to see a good monster movie watch this but fast forward though all the talking and just watch the scenes with the monster.
One thing that really peeves me, and it's prevalent with these made for
SciFy channel movies, is the complete lack of knowledge of the subjects
that they're doing. In particular, the military, but in the case of
"Monster Ark", they managed to humiliate themselves with their lack of
archaeological knowledge, as well. I know that these people can't be
expected to be actual scientists, but it would be nice if they could be
portrayed as a little more professional than a carnival barker.
As far as the military goes, this is great insight into the minds of the writers / director. If these people write characters that are so completely incompetent, what does that say about how they would confront a similar problem? Poorly written, bad acting, zero technical or military advisers, and a monster that makes Godzilla look real, and you have a big time flop. I hope those guys filled their backpacks at the craft services table, because this is a dog, plain and simple.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As with so many of the Made for SciFi in Eastern Europe movies, this
was mostly awful. Here's an example. The lead military dude was played
by the ubiquitous Tommy "Tiny" Lister. Probably best known to scifi
fans as the big mean black President in The Fifth Element. The
"director" had him shouting every line. His rank was "Major", but his
uniform bore no officer tabs. Instead he had sergeant stripes on one
arm. At some point somebody was probably thinking "sergeant-major", a
distinguished rank, but not an officer. If you call a sergeant-major
"major" the least you will get is a pointed explanation that he is an
enlisted man and works for a living, assuming you survive the
This isn't nit-picky detail stuff, this is a big deal to anybody with any military knowledge.
In any case Tiny had to play the stereotypical brain-dead, kill everything, screaming military martinet that seems to be Hollywood's perception of soldiers. He is a good enough actor that he would not have been overacting so badly had he not been directed to do so.
But on to the movie. A small group of archaeologists discover a "dead sea scroll" containing the "unedited" book of Genesis. This version of the book contains the clues needed to find Noah's Ark. But it also warns that the ark contains a dark secret.
All of this is nothing but a setting for the REAL message. Turns out that the lead archaeologist used to married to the world's greatest scholar of biblical languages. So he seeks out his ex-wife to ask her to translate the scrolls. There we learn that he was falsely accused of an affair with a student, and the strain of that accusation broke up the marriage. It also exacerbated the religious rift between them. She is Christian, he is atheist/agnostic.
Well whaddya know, turns out the bible really is right, and there really is a demon in Noah's ark. They find the ark, accidentally let the demon go, and our hero begins to discover faith.
At one point he is trapped in a collapsing temple, prays to God, and is miraculously rescued. When it comes time to face the beast, armed with Noah's staff, only the truly faithful can have the job. Naturally everyone thinks he is the man for the job, even the leader of the secret society that has been guarding the secret of the ark since before the coming of Christ. (Noah happened first, if you will recall your bible studies ;-) So by the end, god sends a thunderbolt from the heavens to the top of Noah's staff, and the cheezy lightning bounces off of the staff and hits the beast. Eventually our hero has to push the beast into a flimsy wooden crate, where it will be trapped until some other poor schmo lets it out again. Amazing how a CGI monster that can shrug off a clean hit from a shoulder fired missile can be stopped dead in it's tracks by a wooden crate.
In any case, love is rekindled as faith is born and redemption achieved. The divorcees reunite to live happily, and faithfully, ever after.
Some of the scenes along the way are kind of fun. It's always great to see the nephilim invoked out of biblical texts. They make great bad guys. But most of the time this movie was just dumb. People just don't act the way all of the actors did in this movie. Even the CGI monster had problems. It just couldn't manage to kill any of the primary actors, even though it could chop up everyone else with a single might swing of a clawed arm.
There is usually some enjoyment to be found on SciFi's "most dangerous night of television", but this was one of the least worthy efforts. Too bad, there is a good movie to be made about an ark full of monsters that was launched at the same time as Noah's ark. Finding a whole ark full of demons with better writing, directing, and acting could have been a lot of fun.
You know, I realize why casualties in Iraq are so bad. Apparently, Iraq
is crawling with ancient monsters that have been let loose by meddling
by the US military. Saddam was keeping the world safe from ancient
monsters, but Bush has managed to screw that up.
This is the second Skiffy channel movie that was built around this premise. The first was "Manticore" with Star Trek Voyager's Robert Beltran. This has a biblical theme.
Well, my complaint with this one is similar to the my complaint with the other. If you are going to do a movie about the military, actually learn what you are talking about. If this is a mission that higher ups consider important, they'd send a lot more than a squad. A senior Non-commissioned officer is referred to as "Sergeant" or "Sergeant-Major" not "Major" or "Sir". The uniforms are completely wrong. (Big rank insignia on the sleeves of combat uniforms went out in the 1970's. It just tells the enemy who to shoot at.) In a combat situation, you don't go into a nice cluster that can be mowed down with a few shots. YOu also had a clearly overweight soldier, which would simply not happen in a combat zone.
My other complaint with the movie is that the whole character conflict comes between the bible-thumping translator (played by ex-Xena Life Parnter Renee O'Connor) and her atheist ex-husband archaeologist. Which begs the obvious question, if these two had such diametrically opposed views on faith and God, how could they have ever gotten married to start with? Not that it matters, their discussions on faith are so vapid and shallow they barely move the plot along.
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