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Another SyFy ditty, with suspiciously familiar creatures and plot
lines. This one looks like a hybrid mix of Tremors and an assortment of
"Marines fight monsters" movies like Aliens.
Giant slinkies with vacuum sweeper tendencies look for quick meals in the Afghan desert. While this week's squad of Marine victims fight with Taliban insurgents, the faceless maws of the Sand Serpents sneak up on both. As per usual, characters are knocked off one-by-one, first with the nameless ones with no lines, then eliminating those with a few lines, finally getting to the top-billing folks.
It would be easy to dismiss this one, but it actually does have its moments. The characters that survive more then the first 20 minutes or so are actually developed somewhat, and the acting isn't bad at all. There's a child in the cast who does especially well. The special effects appear cheap in places, as if done on a home PC. However, since the premise is so bizarre, the hokey effects fit in a weird way. One character who never shuts up has the exact fate you hope for and know is coming sooner or later (and that finally shuts him up, permanently lol).
This one's just for laughs, like the old MST3K flicks.
Sand Serpents. No one died in this Syfy Original Movie until the 6
minute mark. Impressive.
A small combat unit overseas that ends up dealing with giant underground worms or snakes.
You're probably thinking what I'm thinking. Dune meets Tremors. Sure, because it's basically just that.
The difference is that the writing is much better than the usual Saturday Night Original fare on Syfy and if you have nothing better to do, it passed the time rather well.
There are some obvious holes in the skit as they skipped some scenes where special effects could have been used, but we know what happened. Who really needs to see a giant snake blow up anyway? My guess, they were saving money.
When the worms feed on Taliban, they kind of reminded me of giant Slinky's with teeth.
Overall, 1-10, I'd say a 5, maybe a 6 if you were drinking.
The writing was better than most of their Saturday Night Original movies, the effects weren't bad but there were holes in some of the cinematography. Who ever edited the final product may have been the one that created some of the disjointed scenes.
The ending for me got lame as I feel there was a much smarter resolution at hand aside from the one that took place. Then again, if he was stupid enough to have taken his course of action aside, then I guess this scene, that was reminiscent of Reign Of Fire, is fine.
You'll know what I mean when / if you see it.
Now that Iraq has simmered down, the war news such as it is concerns
Afghanistan. Something the government is keeping from the American
public are those giant worms that are doing more damage to the Allies,
the Taliban, and anything else they take a mind to eat. And as big as
they are they've got some huge appetites.
Jason Gedrick and a small group of Marines are stranded out in the remote Afghan desert. But it ain't the Taliban that's worrying them, it's these giant refugees from Tremors. In fact the big worms prove to be an ally of sorts by doing better against the Taliban than these clearly outclassed troops are. No reflection to the Marine Corps, but battling these enemies is something not covered in their training.
It all gets downright silly at times. But if these things are out there I suggest we let them breed and chow down on the Jihadists. Otherwise I'd pass Sand Serpents right on by.
Contains some very general spoilers.
When watching news reports about todays combat troops on the front lines, two of the things that come to mind are how shockingly young all of the soldiers are, and how shockingly short all of their haircuts are. In SAND SERPENTS, the cast looks like it was plucked from a Green Day mosh pit. These actors are about as solder-like as my left foot, and my left foot is not all that military. The actors are too old and they don't look or act like elite special forces military.
Here is the 3% fun in SAND SERPENTS... it is kind of fun debating with fellow viewers whether the sand worms in SAND SERPENTS are copied from the sand worms in TREMORS or are instead copied from the sand worms in DUNE. The rest of the movie experience is bad in a dull sort of way.
SAND SERPENTS has pretty good pacing, but other than that it is difficult to find good things to say. There are better monster movies out there where the cast dies one person at a time. And there are much better sand worm movies out there, so please watch one of those.
I was rather dubious of seeing Sand Serpents. The premise seemed hokey
but somewhat interesting, but what turned me off was that it was airing
on the SyFy channel who to me seem to have a notoriety for showing and
making films that range from just tolerable to bottom-of-the-barrel
Luckily for Sand Serpents, it is one of the more tolerable efforts to air on the SyFy channel. I wouldn't go as far to say it was good, it's not, but it was entertaining in a way. Apart from the special effects, the production values are a step above what I usually see on SyFy, with better than expected photography and editing and the scenery/settings is somewhat striking. The acting is also much better than anticipated with the two leads quite good, the sound effects are more authentic and incorporated better than they can be and effort is done into developing the characters and making them likable. The scenes with the monsters of the title of the film are entertaining and done with a decent amount of build-up and suspense, again a big improvement, but there could have been more of it.
Production-values wise though, what cheapens Sand Serpents are the effects. I've seen much worse, but some of the effects do look fake and crude. The story didn't gel for me either, interesting but also rather hokey. I liked the idea of merging war drama and monsters, but the execution of the idea didn't come off as successful. The scenes with the monsters are some of the better scenes of the film, but the war drama scenes are clichéd and pedestrian in my opinion. The script is often laughable, with dialogue that does come across as unintentionally funny, the music has its moments but can be over-bearing and predictable and the direction while not a complete hack job was rather unimpressive. There is also one very irritating character, but he does get killed off in an ideal way in one of the more fulfilling scenes of the movie, so that didn't harm the film as much.
Overall, uneven and silly, but it did have some entertaining moments, so I can't be too overly hard on it. Besides, I could have been watching another Titanic II, 2010:Moby Dick, Dinocroc vs. Supergator, The Apocalypse and Alien vs.Hunter, which was what I was prepared for, in short a movie so bad you contemplate suicide, however while not great by all means it was actually quite tolerable. 5/10 Bethany Cox
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw the adds for this film and at first thought it might be cool. Well i was wrong. As usual they again can't get the little things right. Like rank on the helmets that are upside down. Name tapes that go on Gor-Tex rain gear. Tabs and badges that NO private should be waring. A Capt. that says "SIR" to a LT. A military man with a goatee...come on. Who was the military adviser on this flick. At least they showed real M-4s and not some AK-47 dressed up like an M-16. Its little things like that, that drive me nuts on these made for TV flicks.Also someone please tell me why it always seems fitting for someone to sacrifice themselves when its not really necessary. I hope that someday that the SYFY channel gets it right.
I wasn't expecting much but I found this movie well written with none
of the clunky lines that make me wince. There is genuine suspense and
some interesting inter-cultural parallels.
The CGI and monster logic are not great but the characters are well done. It's not Aliens or Terminator 2 but I'd say it's more memorable than most.
I thought the Afgan characters were interesting with thought provoking stuff about what it's like to be in the middle of a civil war. The tension around the "are they on our side or not" was very effective.
The US army characters were a bit stereotypical but well written and acted.
I really liked the ending but others might find it a bit grim. Thought provoking to me.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
First, an explosion woke the worms during a firefight between some
American soldiers and the Taliban. Apparently there had never been
explosions in the vicinity prior to that, there at the mine. Perhaps
those worms were imports.
Second, you'll hate Andrews. You'll keep on hating Andrews and wishing him death as the others fall. Seriously, you'll find yourself saying, "God, why couldn't that have been Andrews?!" when Wilson gets killed. Don't worry, he gets his, but in a far less dramatic way than you'll have hoped.
Third, how can a gigantic worm snatch a Blackhawk helicopter perfectly out of the sky without getting injured by the blades? Seriously.
Fourth, they figure out the worms are attracted to sound and vibration. Apparently, someone has seen Tremors! They all climb into a hot-wired truck without checking if it's even fueled up or knowing if it can outrun the worm, but hey... Sci-Fi is Syfy. They even do the whole lobbing-grenades-from-the-back-of-the-truck stunt later in the flick (just like in Tremors). Good grief.
Fifth, the worm always has to come up out of the ground about 100 feet and arc down in a menacing way (in the same CGI manner might I add) and roar. Roar! Essentially over-sized earthworms (or dirt-snakes as my husband called them) have no need for vocal cords and certainly would not have developed them. And yet these babies have that pseudo-grizzly roar.
Sixth, would someone please make Andrews die?!
Seventh, there are just some irritating little tell-tale Sci-Fi things. For instance, when the group is back at the mine, a grenade flies through the window, explodes, blows shrapnel into Kaminsky (who falls to the floor screaming), and everyone scrambles. A few seconds later, the lieutenant sees fit to yell, "We're under attack!" Really? I doubt anyone had noticed...
Eighth, if the worms are indeed attracted to only sound and vibration, then why do they eat motionless bodies? This happened in the beginning with Asala's corpse and later when Kaminsky laid motionless while Stanley and Andrews were running away and yelling. The worm ate Kaminsky instead of going for the moving things causing vibrations. At least in Tremors, they stuck true to the fact that standing still wouldn't get them killed ;)
Ninth, what's with the kid? I know it's tough to find young actors, especially on the budget they must've had for this film... but COME ON! My cats have a scratching post with more personality that this girl exhibited! She sees her dad blow up and manages to shout a few times, but nary a tear was shed. Wow.
Tenth, the final scene is a dramatic one of self sacrifice for the greater good. However, I can't believe an American soldier would get onto a rescue helicopter wearing a suicide belt. If he thought the worm was going to actually come after them, he could've taken it with him and tossed it into the worm's gaping maw instead of hurling himself into it. It was just such a waste... but dramatic! All in all, this wasn't a total waste of time as most Sci Fi Originals are. The acting is so-so, there are some better attempts at character development (which still fall short), and the story isn't bad.... except it was done before. This is basically a rip-off of Tremors (which is a far better movie than this); they took that and dumped it in Afghanistan.
Summary: For a Sci Fi Original, it's not total crap and is actually watchable, especially if you have never seen Tremors.
I normally do not trash anyone's films but I have had enough !!!! I
watched this film from start to finish !
Let's start with the first point ! These "Soldiers" are not Marines. I have served with both services and there are huge differences besides just uniforms !
Second , This film just cut a lot of their potential audience out because there have been way over a million military members that have rotated in and out of A'Stan,Iraq and other places since the war has started not to mention their family , relatives and friends that know what is and what is BS from their pictures and stories . The "Soldiers" are all "TABBED UP" each with Special Forces tabs and also "RANGER" tabs plus CIBS .
I do know a lot of SF /Group guys that wore beards so that isn't an issue but you don't pick the wimpiest guy to try and pull that off ! Arabs wear a certain Kafeeh ( head dress/wrap around neck) due to a certain meaning ( religious reason , country rulers etc. )
as far as Camera work, weapon work and action could have been a bit better. The monster well that is a SCI FI gig there so I will shut my mouth there ! I won't comment on actors actions and good or bad they do what the Director/Producers and Writer tells them too and I can respect that !
Here is a War veteran's heart felt appeal as someone who loves SCI FI films even campy ones ! Get the Military part right when doing Military based films as if it feels real then the fiction is easy to imagine as a reality ! The best lie that could ever be told is 80% true ! Any questions please feel free to contact me directly !! Cheers! DOC J
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Sand Serpents is set in the remote Afghan desert where Lieutenant
Richard Stanley (Jason Gedrick) & his small troop of marines are
escorting engineer Captain Jan Henle (Tamara Hope) to a sapphire mine
to assess whether it's still operational & worth taking control of,
while at the seemingly abandoned mine the marines are attacked by
hostile Taliban soldiers & are taken hostage. Awaiting their fate the
marines are surprised to find everything go very quiet & the Taliban
soldiers to have completely disappeared, the marines soon discover that
the fighting & explosions above ground have woken giant 100 foot long
ancient prehistoric worm like monsters that like to eat people.
Stranded in the Afgahn desert at the mercy of the Taliban & giant
mutant worms the marines have to figure out a way to get to safety...
This American & Canadian co-production was directed by Jeff Renfroe & is yet another original Sy-Fy Channel creature feature that could have been great but ends up falling way short, Sand Serpents is a sort of mixture of Tremors (1990) with it's huge underground mutant people eating worms & Black Hawk Down (2001) as a group of marines are stranded at the mercy of the Taliban & left to fend for themselves until help arrives. I know those two films are world's apart & it's difficult to imagine such a mix but here it is, it's called Sand Serpents & it's not every good. As expected little or no explanation for the mutant worms are given & oddly the script actually spends more time on the conflict between the US marines & the Taliban & relegates the Sand Serpents to a sub-plot, the Sand Serpents are nothing more than one more obstacle to overcome in order to escape & don't really get much screen time or do anything other than cause the ground the rumble a lot & eat the occasional soldier. The war aspect of the script is hardly great either, although more time is spent on it the usual broad clichés are brought up like countering the idea that Afghanistan should just be nuked without remorse or the assumption that every Afghan is a terrorist. There are no deep political or social statements here, the character's are flat & you don't care who lives or dies & in fact at the end when the Lieutenant sacrifices his own life for no apparent reason (the whole flag waving patriotic heroism of the US & it's soldiers is the clear message) I couldn't have cared less. At a little under 90 minutes long Sand Serpents does drag at times although the pace isn't too bad, I think focusing on the Afghan war aspects & somewhat ignoring the giant mutant worm monsters was a mistake. Then again if I'm being cynical less giant mutant worm monsters equals less expensive CGI computer effects to pay for...
The film looks nice enough as far as Sy-Fy Channel flicks go. The desert looks like, well, a desert I suppose & the marines uniforms & weapons look authentic enough too. As already mentioned the Sand Serpents themselves are somewhat neglected, all they ever do is pop their heads out of the ground & sort of sway around a bit. As it was made for television don't expect any blood or gore as there isn't any.
With a supposed budget of about $1,800,000 & filmed entirely in Romania the production values are decent, the special effects are alright actually & it's quite well made for a film of it's type. The acting is OK from a cast of people I have never seen or heard of before.
Sand Serpents is not that great, it's better than many original Sy-Fy Channel creature features but that ain't saying much, an awkward mix of monster & war film that doesn't quite come together as it has too much clichéd war drama & not enough giant mutant worm action. Hard to recommend.
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