Tuesday, February 28, 2012

'The Dark Watchers' is almost worth watching

It's been a while since I've had time to post an actual review here. Hopefully, this marks the reversal of that trend!

Men in Black: The Dark Watchers (2012)
Starring: Melanie Denholme, Eirian Cohen, Val Monk, Lee Roberts, and Rudy Barrow
Director: Philip Gardiner
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

A group of UFO enthusiasts (Barrows, Cohen, Denholme, and Monk) become targets of the Men in Black and gradual transformation into something not human!

This film offers a model on how to make the modern exploitation film. It's a cheaply made movie that's being promoted with great-looking graphics and a fascinating preview that highlights the three attractive women that play the lead roles and which, together with the title, bring to mind the completely unrelated big-budget "Men in Black" movies starring Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. The timing is also ideal, as there's a third Jones/Smith "Men In Black" film due out this year. A simple, great-looking website (which you can check out by by clicking here)further helps to make this film look like something you want to rent or buy.

Like the vast majority of exploitation flicks, the actual movie can't live up to the great promotional graphics and the nifty preview. (Actually, this can be said about a host pictures, including more "respectable" ones, but it is especially true of films like this one.) I was about 15 minutes into the film when I realized that it would not live up to the promises of the marketing material, any more than Roger Corman's "She-Gods of Shark Reef" did.

While the film is every bit as stylish as I would expect from the preview and it features decent acting and some great story set-ups, it fails to deliver on any of the promises inherent in those story set-ups. The film ultimately feels like an incoherent collection of vignettes during wich the main characters (and a couple of random chicks running around in blood-soaked clothes) are tormented by the Men in Black and the strange aliens who are heralding some unspecified doom. And at no point in the film does anything become any clearer, nor does anything that we watch ultimately seem to have any point other than to eat up the film's running time.

Ultimately, "Men in Black: The Dark Watchers" feels like someone edited out the film's content and left the padding. The music video included as a bonus feature on the DVD is more coherent, and therefore more interesting, than the main feature.

And this is really too bad. It's clear this film was written and directed by a creator of some talent, and the marketing is really very slick. If just a little attention had been paid to story, I think I'd probably be praising this movie instead of panning it.


Craig Edwards said...

Isn't it amazing that the one thing EVERY movie can afford regardless of budget or resources - is a good script - and further amazing that SO MANY movies get made that needed another draft or two or three or another script altogether? Good review, Steve! Welcome back!

Steve Miller, Writer of Stuff said...

Yeah... so many good ideas are squandered because the script is given short shrift.

And thank you for sticking around. I hope to start providing more meaty content again on a regular basis.