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Klondike Fever (1980)
I wish it were otherwise. I'm Canadian and I love the source material, the gold rush days of the turn of the 19th to 20th century, the characters of the time, and the setting. I had high hopes for this film and it started out wonderfully, what with the paddle wheeler filled with eager miners landing at a well portrayed Skagway. I forgave the movie makers for inserting the dognapped Buck from one of London's stories, but the manner in which the dog was introduced set the stage for the movie's failing: simplistic one dimensional characters of unlikely and unlikeable makeup and a nonsensical plot. Jack London is a sullen, petulant and uncooperative member of his little partnership, with his more well grounded partner always trying and failing to make his impetuous protégé see reason and to get on with the trips purpose. The card sharp, whom London outplays for $500 ($25,000 in today's money!) is at first suitably sullen and angry and yet next thing you know and for the rest of the movie, he's a happy go lucky friendly fellow adventurer!
The bad guys are baby kicking bad (well, dog kicking), with no apparent other purpose or goal than to be bad guys. Soapy Smith is presented as just evil and venal, hardly historically accurate nor fair, and I almost laughed when Soapy's right hand man in malfeasance, the dog handler, was introduced and he is made up to look just like Popeye's nemesis, Brutus! Yup, I get it, that's the bad guy.
The movie loses its momentum shortly after the characters set off for the gold fields. I found myself thinking, 'OK, come on, what's happening? Let's go.' I noticed my wife had started playing on her cell phone. The movie's pace had stalled and in increasing measure the followers needed to employ suspension of disbelief.
Somehow, up the Chilkoot Pass. a trail that we have seen can barely be negotiated on foot, a stage coach appears (!) with three dance hall 'ladies' accompanied by the now cheery gambler. Should I mention the remarkably unlikely part that follows, where all travelers in their various groups are stopped at a waterway and while we have been made to understand that there is a great hurry on all parts to get to the gold fields, they all take the time to build boats entirely from the surrounding standing timber? Or the remarkable scene where the women are stranded on shore and call out for rescue to London and his partner in their passing boat? They say the gambler has taken off down river on foot to look for help, as their boat was stolen! (if he can hike down river then why on earth was it necessary for all those travelers to build boats?) Once the Jack London boat has negotiated the swift water with the women on board, that the gambler had evidently skirted on foot, there he appears and somehow he has the boat again!
In fact a great deal of the movie Klondike Fever requires suspension of disbelief, and while this is not an unusual requirement in movie watching circles, too much of it detracts from the experience and the production starts to appear cartoonish. I suppose that with Brutus as a bad guy, that was to be expected.
Central Intelligence (2016)
Saw this last night on the big screen, not expecting much but hoping to be entertained. Sadly that didn't happen. Why? I has to have been the movie's writing and the way it was directed. It just never got started, and while the actors' delivery in the various scenes had to have been what the director wanted, it just never rang true. I'll leave off any explanation of the plot and story line, others have done a great job at that. I'll just stick to what I feel are the failings of the directing and writing.
The movie starts out well enough, we get the transformation of the formerly bullied fatty 'Rob Wierdich' into the now huge and muscular Rob Stone and how this man now re-enters the life of co-protagonist Calvin Joyner, a man whose great high school promise has in his own estimation fizzled. Stone is over-the-top enthusiastic and presumptive while Joyner plays the baffled and grudgingly accommodating nebbish. But it is carried on too long, straining for the laugh. Hart as Joyner goes from normal speaking voice to Chris Rock style falsetto screeching with apparently little provocation and Dwaine Johnson's Rob Stone plays his overplayed huge smile and light hearted repartee gag so often that it becomes tiresome and distracting.
The mishandled opportunities in the movie get worse as it goes on. Late in the movie comes the anticipated high school reunion. The movie's makers seem to have had no idea how to tastefully or effectively tie it all up and make a satisfying conclusion to the story. The principal bully who has harassed and humiliated Stone throughout the movie could have been dealt his come-uppance in some turnabout humiliation of his own, and I was expecting and even looking forward to this. Instead the writers blew this chance and had Stone simply haul off and knock the far smaller man unconscious with a single blow to the head, in front of the whole crowd. Nice. Way to transform your hero.
More disturbing by far is the next scene in which Stone takes the stage and while accepting an honor, begins to take off clothing. No... he's not going to... but yes. Not only do the writers have Stone strip off his shirt to show off his muscles in a display of vanity, they have him strip completely naked, to the ooo's and ah's of the assembled crowd, and then walk around like a regular dance attendee. What was the purpose of the full nudity? Are we supposed to believe that Stone has altered his genitalia to the better as well as his muscles? (while it isn't shown of course, the implication that Stone is totally nude is clear when Stone tries to hug Joyner and the latter says, "Not now with your junk hanging out!"
I'm not offended at the scene, but I really have to wonder what motivated the writers to think they were advancing the story arc with this uncomfortable and implausible gag. What were they thinking? It's just weird.
Lots of action scenes, cool stunts, but the story was dealt a poor telling.
I gave this series an honest try, as the premise intrigued me: a world in which electricity has stopped working. This series however appears to either be made for a target audience whose IQ is no greater than the speed limit on American highways, or is made by writers and directors who express an overriding contempt for their viewers. I understand the need to give a certain amount of leeway via suspension of disbelief in order to advance a story that is set in proposed 'interesting times', but this one requires the viewer to accept so many implausible events and circumstances that ones tolerance of the incredible is reached and exceeded almost immediately. The protagonist who obviously is in on the know about the pending catastrophe, is almost immediately killed, and the brother whom he'd attempted to call at the time of the event just happens to be the toughest guy on the planet, and get this, the friend in his car at the time of the catastrophe just happens to become the head honcho of the new para-military regime, he's the new Sheriff of Nottingham.
The pretty but remarkably naive daughter Charlie happens to collect postcards of the prominent cities of the world. A motor home she and the brother explore happens to have a same size Chicago Wrigley field postcard, and that city happens to be where they go, and they happen to find it exactly at the spot the postcard depicts, there the first person they meet and ask after in this teeming and lawless metropolis happens to be the very man they are searching for. (go figure) And he is indeed 'good at killing people' according to the dying brother's description. With just a sword he is capable of killing a room full of attackers armed with both swords and long guns! Meanwhile the protagonist, just prior to his capture and killing, passes to a most unlikely fat geeky bespecticled ex-dot com millionaire character, the McGuffin: A little amulet thing with a USB port.
Oh, and the whiny Justin Beiber lookalike brother who is captured in lieu of the protagonist, well he manages to escape and make his way across the countryside for a while, and who's home does he find in all the world? That of the woman to whom the McGuffin is to be taken! Yeah, that'll happen.
Everywhere there are warriors armed with swords. Makes you wonder who's making all these swords? And if the metallurgy exists for these to be made then why can't cartridges be made for the many guns that must still exist? That would detract from the bow and sword world the writers want to advance, I guess. And speaking of swords, when oh when will the makers of movies ever come to the understanding that five and ten minute long sword fights with all the acrobatic twirling and clanging up and down stairs and around posts, is not thrilling? Not thrilling at all! They are boring. Audiences have had it up to their eyebrows with sword fights that consist of swords clanging off each other like the dinner bell in a logging camp. Stop it already.
I lasted for two episodes of this tripe and I have had my fill. It isn't going to get any better.
The Butler (2013)
I had good expectations but upon actually seeing this movie...
...I found it about as exciting as watching paint dry. The story is so uninspired that I wonder what the director was trying to say. That white people are almost all bad? That there is fulfilment in simply serving and acting like a piece of furniture while overhearing momentous things while pretending not to?
I find now, helped immensely by this movie, that I'm getting awfully tired of Forest Whittaker and his trademark lazy eye. According to this movie, dumb luck in stumbling across a series of kind benefactors allows a man to achieve a pretty high calling for an unschooled southern boy, and Whittaker ends up carrying serving trays for a series of laughably portrayed presidents for the next four decades. (unfortunately they ignored the Carter administration and they could have had Ron Howard or maybe Chuck Norris appear as the peanut farmer cum President) For that matter, the way the casting choices for presidents went they should have kept going and got Steve Martin as Bill Clinton (with a cameo by Roseanne Barr as Monica Lewinski) James Cromwell as Bush Sr., Pee Wee Herman as Bush Jr., and Will Smith for Obama. In the end though, nothing happens. The Butler has a son who joins the Black Panthers, another who joins the Army (all fabrications) and a wife we hear has a drinking problem and then we hear she doesn't anymore. (!) And you look at the clock and see that there's still forty minutes of run time left and the paint hasn't dried yet.
Django Unchained (2012)
Paint dries faster
Well, since I watched this movie I gave it a couple of days to sink in, that I might not write overly critically of it in the moment. Nothing has changed however. The movie just didn't do it for me.
Not that I was 'offended' by the racism, or depictions of racism, nor of the depictions of virtually all whites with the exception of the doctor protagonist as shallow, hateful and prejudiced. That didn't colour my opinion.
Not that I was offended by the violence and the expected over-the-top gore of a Tarantino work, in fact I laughed at the campy treatment of the lawyer in the big shootout, repeatedly getting unintended hits in the crossfire, spraying gore and howling at each new injury. (kind of sick when you think about it, but I laughed as was intended)
Not that I was bothered by seeing Tarantino in his hubris, again insert his awkward and unconvincing actor self into a cameo role in one of his films, though the cameos would work better if he didn't look so much like a shorter Richard Keil knockoff ('Jaws', of James Bond fame) and stand out so obviously.
The movie was just too damned long and too... boring. The 25 minute long dinner scene for example. Some think it brilliant and if they think so, well and good. But to me it shows a lack of editing. Tarantino must believe so deeply in his own cinematic excellence that he cannot allow what he has deemed should be filmed, to be trimmed. All footage stays in. But that's what editing is for, to keep a scene concise and keep the production from dragging, and folks, a 25 minute dinner scene doesn't build tension the whole time, it drags. Hitchcock would agree. Ditto the handshake scene. "Shake my hand, it's what we do around here." "I won't shake your hand" "Shake my hand" "No, I won't"... on and on. It doesn't build, it drags. By that time the movie is already two and a half hours in and desperately needs to end, and lo and behold here the viewer is treated to a silly protracted argument that could have taken place in any playground, by little kids.
Some epic tales such as Ben Hur are convoluted and involved and they take a long run time to depict on the screen. This is a short simple story that has been drawn out far longer than necessary and longer than it is comfortable to sit through.
If I may employ a metaphor, Tarantino the film maker has always given me the impression of an impulsive adolescent who has taken dad's powerful sports car without permission, and is doing crazy things in it. He does things behind the wheel of that car that others haven't done, that the makers of the car never intended it to do, and people see it and say "WOW, did you see that, that was amazing!". But the more often you see Tarantino drive, the more it becomes apparent that what looked at first to be an astonishingly talented new driver, is in fact just a rather rash and undisciplined driver who is willing to take wild chances. Sometimes the result is brilliant, but things don't always work out for the best on every outing.
This one, Django Unchained, wasn't one of Tarantino's better drives.
Seraphim Falls (2006)
The key word for this duster is, 'Implausible'. (spoilers?)
It started off pretty good: 1858, lone traveller (Pierce Brosnan) setting up camp and cooking up some critter for dinner. He pays little attention when his horse starts skittering around and acting like its surrounded by rattlesnakes. Can't be a very bush savvy man. Then the ambush, he's under attack from unseen foes. Barely escapes with his life. Eludes pursuit and shows some remarkable survival skills.
But a nagging question lurks in the background. If he's such a keen bush fellow then why was he so blind to his horse's manic activity? And why would a horse get so frightened in the first place because of the approach of other men and horses? It's kind of... implausible.
And that sets the tone for the whole movie. It just keeps getting more implausible. Why would a crafty guy risk everything and corner himself by climbing a tree and hoping his pursuer does not see him but that he will stop and linger directly below him in the tree, and stay in that exact spot long enough for our protagonist to drop his big knife so accurately?
Why would our hero, when pursued by four horsemen on whom he has a two hour lead, stop and build a smoky fire and then leave his horse and hide in the trees? There's no ambush, no plan, He just waits in the trees until after dark and he's so inept that he can't keep track of four men around a fire so that one doesn't leave the fire and sneak up behind him, which happens. That's Liam Neeson, the principal pursuer who's companions are in his employ for the purpose of catching Brosnan. But this time Brosnans character gets away from Neesons. How? By running off! Yes, after he and Neeson have a short discussion in which we the audience learn something about why these two are at odds with one another, the guy with a shot arm just ran away, and Neeson didn't see where he went and couldn't stop him. See what I mean? Implausible.
Why would a pursued man with a two hour lead just give up his horse to his pursuers? Why would a woman who's baby is inside a burning house, not scream out 'My baby'? And when she went in and gathered the baby up as the flames approach, why would any modern human being, let alone a sturdy and capable frontier woman, not think to break that second story window and get the heck out with said baby, risking at worst a sprained ankle? Instead she just stands there in the window, holding the baby and looking sad while the flames approach. Is that plausible? Why Why Why?
Let's leave alone the question of whether a six plus foot wounded and exhausted man could pull the entrails out of a dead horse and hide himself in the abdominal cavity for an unknown length of time in the desert heat, only to burst out and instantly get control of a healthy man and hold a knife to his throat. Let's not argue that one.
Well, to cut to the chase the two combatants finally have at it in one on one hand to hand combat. Brosnans character, despite a virtually useless arm, manages to beat the heck out of Neesons. 'Don't keep following me.' Brosnan is astride Neeson and completely controls him. Could kill him. He lets him live. Rides away, taking both horses. This might make a decent ending of the movie. But no. In a manner totally lacking in common class and dignity, after being bested by his foe and let live despite all that has passed between them, just like an overgrown Energizer Bunny Neeson's character gets up and staggers off once again in pursuit of Brosnans! That's the point at which I finally lost all respect for this movie and those involved in it. I stopped caring.
And then the Indian by the water hole appears. No reason for being there, not a popular enough route that he supports himself by hanging around the hole and putting the arm on anyone passing who might need water, he's just there. Avaricious enough to demand a horse in exchange for 'his' water. OK, I'll buy it. But wait, the Indian just gives that horse to the now lone pursuer! He didn't want it? Or does the Indian a gimmick, just there in order to re-balance the horse-to-rider ratio between the two? It's slap the forehead time. Implausible
But wait, there's more! They had to go and introduce the supernatural. Soundlessly and instantly a coach with 'Louis C. Faire' on the side appears in the desert. (Get it? Lu-C-Fer? Oh how sly) The devil makes an appearance, in the form of a woman (Angelica Huston) hawking snake oil, who is only there in order to barter possession of a single bullet for each of the combatants.
OK so there's a devil that can take earthly form and take part in things. Did the devil influence things before this or is this the first hand it plays a part in? Is that why Brosnan backhanded the Chinaman so hard when there seemed no reason for it, because the devil made him do it?
I'd have been not a bit surprised at this late stage if some extraterrestrials had marched out to take a part in the proceedings. Or Elvis appeared. From a promising beginning, this films entertainment value just went down and down the longer it played. Three out of ten rating, and that just for the good survival stuff at the start. That part was well done.
Hunt to Kill (2010)
Oh it's a stinker alright
And I was generous with three stars, of ten. Explanation to come.
A buddy rented this one and brought it over. Starring the only two known 'actors' Steve Austin and Eric Roberts (who has stumbled along on his acting career, never approaching his more famous sister Julia's prominence), Hunt to Kill starts out with a familiar formula: Two cop (southern border guard?) buddies, the two already mentioned, staking out a trailer in the desert. It's desert so it must be the southern US border. They call for backup and then decide to storm the trailer without waiting for the backup to arrive.
At this point we can see what's going to happen in this movie. The writer is going to have the characters do totally illogical things because he hasn't taken any care to advance the story in a plausible fashion, and we the audience will spend the rest of the show rolling our eyes saying all the while, 'Now why on Earth would somebody do that?'. The movie delivers.
Of course the bust goes wrong. Eric Roberts must have been expensive because he's only on the screen long enough to get killed. The trailer is full of hidden bad guys and everything blows up in magnificent fashion, leaving only Steve Austin knocked flat but alive.
Next thing we know it's four years later and Austin has transformed into some sort of Rambo-like master of the forest and now he's in the Pacific Northwest. All the setup with the trailer and the killed partner? It has nothing at all to do with the rest of the movie except maybe to establish that Austin is tough. Oh, and we see him being given a birthday present of a watch with a woven band that can be unravelled into a rope.
The story shifts to a group of bad guys who have stolen some bonds and who are not only baby kicking bad but who betray each another at the drop of a hat. They kidnap Austin, actually kidnapping his newly appeared incredibly stupid daughter to force his cooperation in order that he should lead them through the forest to their fellow bad guy who has stolen their stolen bonds (don't ask) and taken off with a guide to sneak into Canada through the forest... (I warned you) The watch with the magic rope band that we expected Austin to use to save the day at some point? At one point the McGuffin (bag of bonds) had fallen off a cliff, Austin volunteers to go get it and just up and produces this magic watch band rope in front of everybody, unwinds it, and heads over the edge! Oh, that twist caught me by surprise! I had a great laugh over the fact that the watch-band rope once unravelled, became a half inch line of a good couple hundred feet in length.
Of course the bad guys betray him, grab the McGuffin, cut the rope so that Austin falls off the cliff, and leave him for dead. Of course he's not dead.
The forest part allows the story to go the way of presenting Austin as Rambo, although he runs through the bush in a very awkward fashion as though he were wearing high heels. We get to enjoy seeing such eye rolling and laughter inspiring events as Austin leaning back against a log in the middle of the forest and discovering a bag slung up into a tree, that contains a compound hunting bow! How handy. You can almost hear the scriptwriter say to himself, "Now I want to introduce a hunting bow for Austin, how can I do that?" "I know, he just finds it in a bag, strung up in a tree!"
Mind you, later Austin discards the bow when he has shot all of the arrows. You can't reuse undamaged arrows, it seems.
There are enough scenes to inspire laughter that I didn't pull the DVD out of the player. It was funny enough to keep watching, I'll give it that. There were some visually stunning scenes shot around the abandoned Brittania copper mine in Southwest British Columbia and cliff scenes obviously shot around nearby Squamish.
I can't give it all away but I've said enough I think. Austin has to rescue his daughter before the bad guys can escape with her to Canada. It's not so awful you can't get a laugh or two, but it's pretty awful.
The Back-up Plan (2010)
Let it end, please
A video rental. The girlfriend picked it out, that's the memory that I cling to.
I started with an open mind. There are chick-flicks that I have thoroughly enjoyed, I am unashamed to say, and I was ready to see another such. Not this time, as it turned out. The girlfriend relayed the cover info and the whole plot, as it turned out: Lonely city woman with ticking biological clock and no prospects decides to go with artificial insemination and then promptly meets man of her dreams. What to do?
The movie attempts to place Jennifer Lopez into a quintessential Sandra Bullock role ala 'The Net', 'Speed', 'While You Were Sleeping' et al, a slightly naive, sweet dispositioned perky young thing who doesn't seem to be aware she is pretty. Bullock pulls it off naturally, while Lopez in some way doesn't quite reach it.
The setup requires we the audience to accept the notion that a young lady as attractive as Lopez undeniably is, is unable in her whole given decade or so of adult life, to find a suitable live sperm bearing man in this teeming city who is willing to donate same to her cause. One brief scene involving Lopez asking a gorky co-worker for such a donation and the guy flubbing his chance, is meant to suffice in this question. What the scene does is illustrate the absurdity of the premise. If she's willing to use this loser's essence for the purpose then there are at least a million chances in this city every day for Lopez' character to fulfill her child bearing urge. A woman looking like that can't find anyone at all in the city, in ten years, to donate sperm? In what universe?
But we must get beyond this flight of fancy, cut the director some considerable slack, and let the movie get on with it. And gradually, like a Cambodian water buffalo hooked to a huge plow and goaded by a tiny child perched on its neck, the movie gets underway. But my God does it take it's time about it.
She meets Mr. Perfect when they both escape the pouring rain by hopping into opposite sides of the same cab, and then arguing on who 'owns' it. Lame, but they had to meet somehow. Then the two 'happen' to bump into each other often enough for a relationship to develop, though it is a wonder this happens because they show no on screen chemistry what-so-ever. Now there it is: she has a bona fide boyfriend, and is knocked up via artificial insemination sperm doner. The stage is set, just like the video box described.
Now what? Well... nothing.
Granted there isn't much to build on once the premise is established. Does she keep the A/I child or what? Obviously the production has got to have a nice ending that won't offend its audience, be they of whichever popular religious or moral persuasion, so the movie is already guaranteed to have the most politically correct outcome. She's not going to have an abortion (heaven forbid!) or spontaneously miscarry, or adopt out, or anything that might smack of controversy. Similarly it won't end with Mr. Perfect leaving her to her own devices because the kid(s) aren't of his issue. It has to be a 'happily ever after' ending.
The unspoken thing in our minds, that is never hinted at in the movie, is of course, 'Will she quickly consummate the relationship, lie, and say the pregnancy is his doing? She met him the same day she had the transfer after all.'. To the movie makers this rather obvious potential scenario simply doesn't exist. They don't touch it with a ten foot pole. Back Up Plan is far too politically correct a confection to even allow such a thought. We the audience are left to think it, and to consider ourselves 'dirty' for thinking of something so underhanded when the nice movie and its pure leading character never even gave consideration to such an idea. Thanks.
So where is there left for this movie to go? Nowhere. Nothing to say but to fleshing out more than an hour of our movie sitting time with silly fights, making up's, misunderstood meanings leading to more fights, breakups, making ups... Wasted time, in other words. We get about 70 minutes of what is basically a reality show peering into two unconvincing love interests' dating adventures with the oh-so-racy theme that she's carrying child fathered by a sperm doner. With a foreordained predictable nicey-nice ending. The pain of that final 70 minutes is the reason for my title, 'Let it end, please'.
I really regretted not looking at the label before putting the DVD in the machine, so that I might at least know just how long it was going to be before this movie would be over. That bad, yes.
I'm happy that Sandra Bullock was not the principal actress in this clunker. She'd have done it much more justice but I don't think she could have in any real way, saved it. 2/10
White Sands (1992)
Of course you have to suspend your disbelief...
In order for a movie to hold our attention by presenting interesting and exciting events that exceed what might happen in our normally more mundane lives, we have to suspend our natural critical view that, 'things wouldn't happen that way in real life...'. 'It's a movie', so we cut it some slack and accept things that on the whole, might be somewhat unlikely.
Right at the outset White Sands demands a great deal from our reserves of suspended disbelief, and this is because a small hick town sheriff, who turns out to be a very thorough and exacting crime scene detective, responds to the discovery in his jurisdiction, of an apparent suicide victim who has a briefcase containing a huge amount of money, by becoming the sole self-appointed investigator. Then he discovers a lead, and with no backup what-so-ever he decides to take the whole briefcase full of money and set out in a convertible '65 Corvette no less, on a quest to find information about the deceased through pretending to be that person!
As our good sheriff drives off and away from his beautiful wife, in his oddly chosen very valuable classic convertible sports car, all alone and with half a million bucks in unknown and unsecured evidence in a briefcase on the seat beside him, we know that he has no idea whom he might meet. What will such people think of this money-stuffed briefcase packing shill of the victim whom for all our sheriff knows, might know is in fact dead? We may well be excused for thinking, 'That wouldn't happen that way in real life'.
Do ya think?
With a lesser actor in the lead role we might be inclined to see if it isn't too late to get out of our seats and go back to the ticket booth and make a scene about a refund, or to make a phone call and see if the video store is still open, but it's Willem Dafoe and he does pretty darned well with the material.
If our next thought, seeing this lone man set off on his quest with his unsecured briefcase of money, is something along the lines of, 'This can't be good...' then we are treated to the fulfilment of our forebodings. It does become much better though. If we forgive the movie's presumption to this point then we are treated to a somewhat less demanding remainder. To say any more would be to do a job of telling that the movie actually does much better than I can.
There are several big names in the cast and they do a commendable job. The plot thickens, the characters develop and the viewer is never required to strain credulity to the degree demanded by that setup scenario. It's a generally satisfactory movie and if not in the league of the giants, you shouldn't regret viewing it.
Present ratings are rather harsh for this drama but for my part I'd think it warrants a solid 7.
The Descent (2005)
What the heck was this? (Spoilers within)
Bought with a package of previously rented movies from a local rental shop, I chose this one and sat down to watch this movie with no expectations and no prior knowledge of it. Just the title.
As often the case after watching a clunker, (as such I judged it to be) I logged on to IMDb to see how bad it fared in the popular opinion. Imagine my astonishment when I see it popularly rated at 7.4! What did so many other people see that I missed? Who's off base, me or them? What did I fail to appreciate, if anything?
Now I have no problem with a virtually all female cast. No misogynist here, I can handle women being depicted as strong and assertive, in fact I find it a refreshing approach to what has so often been the more common role of women in horror movies, that of obligatory pretty screaming victims. What seemed to turn me off from taking the movie seriously at an early point was the sense of insincerity in the actresses. Now that I'm aware that it is a British movie, I wonder if perhaps it's a subtle cultural difference in the way the cast is directed or in their presentations, but I was always aware that they were acting. It was palpable. Then the mood was further broken by the standard low budget horror movie ethos, that the lead characters should make implausibly foolish decisions, which no one in their right mind would make, but which permit them to be killed in succession. EG: The lead spelunker left the guide book behind, so that they could all explore a 'new' part of the cave system! She is obviously a skilled and experienced climber/caver and yet she decides to deceive her companions by leading five people into a cave system she knows nothing about! When did she intend to tell her 'good friends' that she has led them into the unknown so that they could 'all discover it together'? Were they all going to giggle together over the prank around a wiener roast?
Then the cave creatures. They can skitter around on any surface even the ceiling, like spiders, showing that while blind they are still able to detect what is around them, yet they cannot detect living, breathing, hearts beating sweat smelling frightened people who are laying down on a ledge an inch in front of their faces as long as the ladies don't move! And despite the creatures' obvious great strength and agility in being able to zip around like squirrels, they get killed by the dozen by these exhausted and injured slow moving humans. Yeah, that could happen.
Then there are the quite unlikely plot twists and the odd moralistic rationalizations. -It's alright for the lead protagonist to deliberately mercy kill one of their number, but wrong and evil for the one who originally injured her to have done so purely without intent while surrounded and attacked by creatures! -It's a good idea for one of two people who are fighting for their lives against great odds, to deliberately injure the other and doom her to a grisly death, before they have reached safety!
And the final twist? Not horror inspiring but eye rolling. Of course by that time I'll admit I'd become thoroughly jaded with the show and it seemed more like banana peel humour, someone pulling your chair back as you are about to sit down, than any horrifying development.
No, the movie had turned me off long before this point, and I'd resigned myself to getting a laugh or two out of yet another badly done B flick. That so many thought so much better of it still amazes me. Wes Craven might have made a better movie out of it.