Review: Virus (Don HARLOW)

Enkomputiligis Don HARLOW


Movie by Chuck PFARRER

reviewed by Don HARLOW

   This is one of those badly misnamed movies, sort of like Spielberg's Poltergeist (which was not about a poltergeist). The term "virus" is here used by an alien lifeform as a sort of general pejorative for humanity, and the movie could just as easily (and accurately) have been titled "Asshole" or "Twit".

   The Russian satellite tracking ship Akademik Vladislav Volkov, floating along in the South Pacific ahead of a developing typhoon, is invaded by an electronic life-form from outer space siphoned down to it from space station Mir. This electronic life-form takes over the ship, kills off most of the crew, and begins to put together an army of electronic robots enhanced by spare parts from the late crew. One crew member survives and pulls the plug on the life-form, shutting it down until some idiot will come along and start the generators again. Said crew member then retires into a closet where she, too, will wait for some idiot to come along and start the generators again. Seven days later, some idiots do come along. You know they are idiots because they are towing a barge carrying their life savings right through the now fully developed typhoon, which -- it having been drifting around for at least a week -- they should have known to avoid. Shortly after the barge is sunk, they come across the Volkov, now becalmed in the eye of the typhoon, and they board it. You can guess what happens next.

   The movie has a cast of relative unknowns, most of whom may give thanks that they are killed off relatively early. Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Sutherland, the better-known actors of the film, embarass themselves mightily in this flic -- at one point, Sutherland wanders around dripping transistors and capacitors like a poor man's Borg (this after he attempts to make a deal with the life-form), and Curtis, who is touted as a strong, intelligent woman, ends up basically playing second fiddle to William Baldwin's highly forgettable Steve Baker. My vote for best (or least poor) fulfillment of her role goes to Joanna Pacula, who does the best she can with the material she's given as the surviving Russian crewperson Nadia.

   As with many science-fiction horror flics that are put together by Hollywood hacks who understand neither science-fiction nor horror, this one is hardly worth the effort. The best that can be said of it is that it is far superior to Event Horizon of a season or so ago -- and that's not much.