3 out of 5
Directed by: Eric Styles
This is almost acceptable DTV fare – once you accept the puzzlingness of casting Scott Adkins and Dolph Lundgren in a movie where they not only do not fight one another, but hardly fight anyone at all – but the go-for-broke climax sinks the positive qualities ‘neath uncomfortably poor CGI and lazy camera work.
Adkins plays a cryptozoologist; Lundgren a hunter. The film opens with the two in the midst of a contract tracking down of a crypto bear, when things go horribly wrong. Lundgren blames Adkins peacenik ways; Adkins blames Lundgren’s aggressiveness. Thereafter, Scott does the shorthand film emotional descent of growing a beard and dismissing potential clients, until a man offers proof of a crypto lizard elsewheres, and wants to hire Scott to do his scientist tracking thing, with promises of moneys to pay for legal fees Lundgren’s subsequent lawsuits have made accrue.
Of course, it turns out that Dolph has been hired to hunt the same.
Again, there’s no “ex-CIA, ex-spetsnaz…” tags preceding either of these guys qualifications, so it’s pretty clear (along with the PG-13 rating) that this is more of an adventure thriller than a brawler, and director Styles initially navigates budget shortcomings well enough (keeping the CGI cryptos away from human interaction) and keeps the flick moving along via the crypto exploration and fleshing out of Scott’s team. Dolph also eats up all his badguy dialogue supremely well, building to an inevitable showdown in the lizard’s lair.
Which is where it all goes haywire, and by ‘haywire’ I mean gets eye-rollingly bad. The relative restraint shown with the creature effects is shrugged at: man and beast tussle in some… unfortunate non-blending of real and computer effects. Kudos to Adkins for gamely struggling with nothing in frame, but, as I’ve echoed elsewhere: if you don’t have the money to make it look competent, why shoot it? And there are some mano-y-mano moments in this showdown that director Styles completely botches, using odd angles and cuts that don’t serve the action, but rather make it all seem mundane.
Toss in some final shots that incorporate more CGI, and rather pointlessly, and Legendary, which had walked in and done its tap routine competently, leaves in shame, with its head bowed low, low, low.