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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Skeleton Man (2004)

When it comes to my "What Movie Wednesday" sessions, I approach them with anticipation and wry amusement.  Anticipation because I never know what sort of movie the voters will have me watch.  Wry amusement because sometimes, I think the voters are hoping I get a bit of a turkey... just to see what sort of comments I'll make on Twitter while watching it...

 After a group of soldiers disappear during a training exercise, a crack Delta Force team is sent in to find out what happened.  Soon however, the team discovers that whatever killed the soldiers is now stalking them... and killing them one by one...

To be fair, this movie is flawed, but I had fun watching it- though I'm not sure it's the sort of fun that was intended by the film makers.

The story is basic and simple- as are the characters.  Both are very much in the style of the original "Predator" movie... but with less excitement and a not as scary villian.  Neither story nor characters are very deep, but I did enjoy watching the characters as they shoot, die and spout classic 80's style dialogue... It made me smile.

The acting (like the actual story and characters) is very B-movie level- but that was okay as far as I was concerned, because it was enjoyable B-movie quality in that it entertained me and kept me from thinking about the possibility that Reality is really just a result of biochemicals pulsing around in my brain.  The actors that stood out for me were Paul Sampson as Nathan, Michael Rooker as Captain Leary, and Sarah Ann Schultz as Lieutenant Scott.  These three had some decent dialogue and moments that tried to add depth to the movie and their characters, but still didn't bring the quality of the movie up.  Still, I did enjoy them.  I also have to mention Robert Milan as the "Blind Indian"- he provided, what I think is one of the most awesome movie lines ever:  "You got beans?  Beans are good.  Heat them up.  Good to go."  Loved it!

The visuals for this movie were a little hit and miss in some regards.  The look of the Delta Force team for instance.  They looked more like hikers than soldiers- especially with backpacks that a college student would use to carry their books.  I had a real hard time believing that they were soldiers.  As appealing to the eyes as the female performers were, I kinda got the feeling they were there simply for their looks (especially since only one of them got any real serious screen time before dying).  And when they donned their camoflauge face paint,  I shook my head because pretty much right after, it looked like they hadn't put any one- though the montage sequence of them doing it was well done.

The backpacks really bothered me, actually.  As a former soldier myself, I know how much stuff gets carried around in the field- even for just an overnight excursion.  Ammo, food, sleeping gear, clean socks, first aid bandages, cooking gear, pyrotechnics, toilet paper, etc... and I can tell you that a college student backpack wouldn't be able to carry all that... let alone the Vietnam era webbing donned later, weapons, ammo, GPS, range finder, rifle scopes, food... and the parts for the huge arsed land mine Lt. Leary constructs.  I TRIED to suspend my logic on that.  I TRIED to think of it in 1980's action movie terms... but I had a hard time doing so.

I also had some problems with the look of the killer- Cottonmouth Joe.  The skull actually looked pretty good, but the effect was brought down by the cloak.  In the close up shots of him riding his horse (which kept changing colours) the cloaked looked cool- all tattered and creepy.  But in the full body shots, it looked brand new, and jarred a bit.

There is some decent camera work though, some of the scenes are shot really well and seemed quite professional- I was impressed.  Other shots seemed to show a lack of experience and/or talent.  The POV shots tried to give us the feeling of "Predator," but didn't quite pull it off.  The worst aspect though, was the use of CGI in the opening credits, and the teleporting of Cottonmouth Joe.  They weren't done very well, and struck me as being rather unnecessary.  Doing a fade out/fade in sort of effect for the teleporting probably would've been cheaper and more effective in my opinion.

There ARE some decent kills (and a decent number of kills too) in this movie though.  The opening scene was really good, as well as a few of the ones at the chemical plant near the end.  I felt those scene were very well done, even though the grue is kept to a minimum.  As good as they were, they were still B-movie level... though I really did enjoy them.  The only "problem" is how the chemical plant scene actually fits in with the rest of the movie.  I'm not altogether sure that if I was stalking a group of soldiers to kill them one by one, I'd take time out to wipe out the staff of a facility that had nothing to do with the rest of my victims so far.  Just saying.

Given all of this, "Skeleton Man" is an interesting example of a 1980's style B-movie.  While it's more action oriented than horror, it's still interesting.  Definately worth at least one viewing... and possibly two if it's part of a B-movie night.  I'm placing this movie in 'The Bad".

Special Shoutout:

I want to thank everyone that participated in my "What Movie Wednesday" feature.  I'll be doing it again April 18th.

Big thank you to the following people who voted for "Skeleton Man":

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