The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Announcement

Announcement

Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

Second, it appears since my last trip to the blog, Photobucket has decided to charge for third party hosting, meaning none of my images are appearing anymore. That's simply an aesthetic issue, but still annoying.

Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.

--Matt

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Prey (2007)

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I must confess, I hadn't been keeping up with Peter Weller's current acting career as well as I should have. Between his stints on the History Channel and re-watching some of his old classics like Robocop and The Naked Lunch, and the fact that The Hard Easy was something of a disappointment, I guess I just fell behind. When I typed his name into my Netflix search engine, this film popped up, and I figured I'd give it a shot.

Prey is about a family traveling in Africa. Peter Weller is the dad, and he's trying to bond his new, young wife, Bridget Moynahan, and his two kids, a teenage daughter and younger son. The daughter doesn't like the wife, and blames her for her parents' break up. Naturally, a vacation to a secluded part of Africa is just what the doctor ordered. Anyway, Weller goes to look at some dam on business while his wife and two kids go on a day safari. Their guide is eaten by lions while trying to take the son out to the bush to take a dump. Weller finds some expert hunter/tracker to help find his family because the park rangers are inept (they always are in movies). It's up to Moynahan to hold down the fort and not get eaten before they can find her and the kids.

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This was horrible. I was rooting for the lions. The plot was fairly ridiculous, with Moynahan being pretty much a waste-of-space besides her beauty, but somehow has the ability to devise this elaborate scheme to blow up the head lion in a car and come away from the explosion unscathed. She didn't even have the wherewithal to drive the safari vehicle after the guide died, making their plight worse when she crashed it into a ditch. But now she's the hero? It was like a bad Lifetime movie. Not even that, the guide's killed in the first twenty minutes. The script writers stretch out twenty more minutes of story to make it last over an hour. It hurt.

Weller wasn't in this enough, and when he was, he was cool, but didn't fit. He was too cool for the character he was playing. The father was supposed to be naive enough to take his family on a trip to Africa when he knew they weren't getting along, and then be dumb enough to let them go on a safari without researching first to see what kind of contingencies were in place should something go wrong. The reality is the no-nonsense Peter Weller we've grown to know and love didn't jive here. We needed a Brian Benben playing the role of the dad, not our resident DTVC Hall of Famer.

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I didn't know Bridget Moynahan was as old as she is. She just turned 37. That makes her like five or six years older than Tom Brady, when I thought they were the same age. I believe in this film she's supposed to be playing someone younger, and she can definitely pull that off. I'm not sure how she went from I, Robot and Art of War to this near-Lifetime movie, but I could see her coming up with ways to kill her agent in her head as she recited the crummy script on screen.

I think the organization for international park rangers needs a better PR person. I can't recall how many films I've seen like this where inept park rangers wander around the wilderness while some crack guide who lives in a shack swoops in and saves the day. Now, mind you, there are films where the park ranger is on the ball, but not many. I can't exactly say I blame these film makers, though. I've had one bad experience where a park ranger threw me and my friends out of our local state park because I was smoking a cigar. He said: "That better not be a joint!" to which my friend said "And those better not be ranger issue shorts you're wearing." Maybe the whole park ranger system needs a complete image overhaul. They can't all be douchebags.

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This film employed a plot device that I've always found hard to swallow: the one where everyone who helps the protagonists gets killed. It was just weird how everyone's going out of their way to save these four rich Americans, and they all die. The only people who lived were the ones smart enough to stay behind and man the radio, and it's possible they were killed too, and the scenes were just cut out of the final edit. I'm not sure if the film makers were sending a message about how reckless we Americans live our lives and how it affects the rest of the world, but if so, that's worse than lazy script writing. First, there's nothing more annoying than being preached to by people dumb enough to make a bad movie. Second, most Americans, like myself, don't have the kind of scratch available to go to Africa, so the film's preaching to a small segment of the population that probably wouldn't watch this anyway. Whatever.

Steer clear of this. Don't even consider it. The only reason to put yourself through it is if you feel you've committed a grave sin, and are looking for some form of penance. The Weller factor will soften the blow some, but not enough for it not to put a serious scar on your soul. And the worthless plot that goes on forever makes it impossible to screen on a bad movie night, because your friends' ADD will kick in so bad they might actually leave. Good for them.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0468536/

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