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"Is it just me, or does
anyone else feel like
we've been here before?"
Review written by: Alex Sandell
If ever there was a movie where the screenwriter typed the last word, gleefully rubbed his hands together and hissed, through an incredulous grin, "I can't believe I'm getting paid for this shit" -- The Cave would be it. This movie is too generic to be called an Alien rip-off. "Second-rate Anaconda" would be getting closer to the truth. The only thing startling about this supposed horror film is the fact that it took two screenwriters to come up with absolutely nothing original, or remotely frightening.
If I ran one of those online services that let parents know the "age appropriateness" of a film, I'd say they'd be safe taking a 5-year-old. I don't run one of those rackets, being that I never thought "PG-13" or "NC-17" was too hard a system to follow, but you never know. There is one scene of gore in this film that earned it a PG-13 rating. Cover your child's eyes in that spot and the only thing you'll have left to worry about is keeping your bored kid entertained with lots of sweets and promises that you'll take them to see something better, next time.
The film is about a bunch of conventional macho idiots exploring a cave. The entrance to the cave was once guarded by a church, because some knight was killed by monsters. The conventional macho idiots laugh it off and go scuba diving in the deep underwater trenches of the cave. As they do, they spew powerful dialogue such as, "this beats Chattooga by a mile" (it actually wasn't Chattooga, but I had already given up on taking notes).
The dialogue in the film works in much the same way as dialogue in a porn movie ("ooh ... you're squeezing my tits so hard"). The actors simply narrate, describing what's happening at the time. "There's an opening ahead." "There's somebody's shoe." "I'm going around a corner." "They can fly." "It has bite marks." The words are only there to get us to the money shots, which involve these monsters that look almost exactly like the alien from Alien, only with batwings.
The monsters "see" sort of like the Predator aliens, only the funky colors have been replaced by grain-o-vision that looks a lot like the 17" black and white television set I pull out whenever I'm feeling nostalgic and want to play some Atari 2600 -- fuzzy, dark and it only works about half the time. Outside of being complete Alien rip-offs, the creatures themselves don't look bad. The FX work is above par for a low-budget film of this nature. Too bad the story isn't up to snuff.
After the idiots enter the cave they have a good laugh over aggressive living monster larvae. "It looks like some sort of larvae," conventional macho idiot # 2 (or was he # 3?) says. The larvae struggles to break free of his hands, makes some roaring noises, looks completely alien, and causes all the other conventional macho idiots to break out laughing. These are the kind of scientists President Bush would hire to study climate change.
After finally deciding that monster larvae probably isn't that funny, the group yell and scream at each other for the next hour, as they try to find their way out of the cave. Jack (Cole Hauser) is the leader, but he's been infected by the winged beasts and is slowly turning into one of them.
The rest of the team, outside of Jack's brother, grows paranoid over Jack's behavior. Screaming at everyone, knocking expensive camera equipment into the water and super-hearing may have clued them in. Either that or the fact that his eyes are no longer human. Nobody ever points out Jack's monster eyes, but someone does frantically mention, "I don't think the antibiotics are working!"
After Charlie (Piper Perabo) displays super-human strength climbing up a wall of rock, falling hundreds of feet and cracking her head against the rock, only to shake it off, and finally swinging like a maniac from one cliff to another, the team decides that they are really in trouble. Maybe Jack's not leading them to the right place. A few of the team members think that following the flow of the water is the only way out. Jack thinks following the stink of methane is the way to get things done. The camp divides and the suspense doesn't build, even slightly.
I'll give the movie this much: the underwater photography ranged from good to excellent. The directing ranged from piss-poor to marginal. The acting was about the same as the directing. Piper Perabo has a nice ass. The aliens looked okay (as I've already mentioned). The screenplay was abysmal. Oh, and somebody remembered to name someone in the movie "Briggs." I don't think you can truly call yourself an Alien rip-off without at least one character going under the moniker of "Briggs."
Unless you're the cinematic equivalent of a cereal shopper stuck looking at the big discount bags of Cap'N Crunch and Count Chocula clones, hoping to save a quarter at check-out, you're going to feel like someone just mugged you and stole $10.00 from your wallet after watching this film. There is not a single original second -- not minute, but second -- in this movie. It doesn't even manage to do a proper job at stealing from former films. Not once is it scary, suspenseful, or worth the brain cells you'll lose trying to dumb yourself down to its level. Here's some advice the characters in the film should have taken: Stay far, far away from The Cave!
Agree, disagree, do you wish you had a better education? Email Alex!
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