While studying the effects of global warming on a pod of whales, grad students on a crabbing vessel and it's crew uncovers a froze soviet space shuttle, and unintentionally releases a monstrous organism from it
A group of grad students have booked passage on the crabbing boat Harbinger to study the effects of global warming on a pod of Belugas in the Bering Sea. When the ship's crew dredges up a recently thawed piece of old Soviet space wreckage, things get downright deadly. It seems that the Russians experimented with tardigrades, tiny resilient animals able to withstand the extremes of space radiation. The creatures survived, but not without mutation. Now the crew is exposed to aggressively mutating organisms. And after being locked in ice for 3 decades, the creatures aren't about to give up the warmth of human companionship. Written by
In 2010 Amalgamated Dynamics (ADI) was hired to create the practical monster effects for the film The Thing (2011). However much to ADI's dismay, the studio had the majority of their work digitally replaced with CGI for the final cut of the film. In response to this, ADI used Kickstarter to fund this film, Harbinger Down, which features entirely practical creature effects created through the use of animatronics, prosthetic makeup, stop motion and miniature effects. There are zero computer animated monsters in this film. See more »
When the crew of The Harbinger raise the 'object' shortly into the film, they claim it is encased in 'old ice' (due to the visible blue colour).
Indeed, due to compression over many hundreds/thousands of years by 'newer ice' forming on top, this would be the case. However, according to the opening sequence; the object/craft in question crashed in 1982, and would unlikely have been there long enough for the necessary ice build-up and compression needed to give it the blue colour. See more »
In one sense, this is a special case. In another, it deserves the same critical treatment as everything else. Low-budget, independently- produced movies need to compete on the same playing field as the big stuff. We don't want Kickstarter funding to become an excuse. On the other hand, some of the crueler reviews have, I think, a rather rose- tinted view of what 80s creature features were really like. They weren't all Aliens. That's magic in a bottle, and it isn't available to order for any amount of money - or Hollywood would be able to buy it, which it's becoming increasingly clear they can't.
So, with these mixed views in mind, I rather liked Harbinger Down. If it sets out to avoid becoming saturated in embarrassing CGI, it succeeds, but naturally more is required than that. The performances are fine, given the painfully thin script - people knocking the actors need to consider the writing they've been given. The script is perhaps most kindly described as functional, and barely so. Henriksen is, of course, a massively experienced guy, and always a pleasure. The cinematography is absolutely rock-solid and a great advertisement for both Benjamin L. Brown and the staggeringly low-cost camera it was shot on. Both the pictures and Christopher Drake's score, and of course the creature effects, elevate the film way, way above the depths to which many low- budget sci-fi movies fall.
So let's not be too harsh on Harbinger Down. Behind-the-scenes shots suggest that the creature effects could have been made more of on screen, a fair criticism that's been raised before, and the script is a letdown. But again, it's a genre creature feature. For a bit more creature and a bit more story and characterization it could have been better, but on the off-chance that some sort of renaissance of the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy filmmaking can be launched from this movie, or movies like it, I'm enthusiastic. If Blomkamp does get to do Alien 5, he'd be an idiot not to involve Woodruff and Gillis.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?