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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Creature (1998)



Having sat down tonight with little to do, I started to flip through the guide on my television to see if anything caught my eye. There was the usual rotation (at least for this week), there was Twilight on Showtime, The Last Picture Show on Retro and Armageddonon Encore. Then I stumbled onto Peter Benchley’s Creature on Reelz. To be honest, I spent the majority of 1998 travelling the Mediterranean Sea in the Navy and caught this via our half operational satellite television station. So, the quality left a little to be desired (as did most things on the system).

Tonight all I could remember was it was a bit long and the creature (and story line) reminded me of the movie, The Creature Walks Among Us, with the way it acted. What I found tonight was a film that had much better pacing and flow in a continuous feed vice mini-series. I am by no means a fan of sea movies. Hell, I cannot even swim and I despise the beach (I know, I know, how is it possible that a Naval Sailor not know how to swim? Trust me, its not that difficult). Really, I hate the ocean.

I am sure many remember the plot, on a remote island in the West Indies, a top-secret Navy team attempts to genetically engineer a biological weapon...only to find they've instead created an unstoppable monster (Ironically, I could see that – see Montauk). Adapted from the Peter Benchley novel, White Shark (well, sort of, substitute US Navy for the Nazi party). This interpretation starred Craig T. Nelson (Coach) and Kim Cattrall (Sex in the City) as research scientists who visit the island and find themselves being terrorized by a creature bent on destruction.

The novel read very smoothly and Benchley’s storytelling created a lot of flow that the original mini-series lacked. In this version, while not perfect, some of the flow returned making it much more enjoyable and memorable. Nelson and Cattrall both had solid performances (amazingly because of the less than perfect script) and carried the movie. However, I was left a bit frustrated. As a fan of the classics, I felt like much of this was a definite rip-off of The Creature movies of old (as mentioned above), although in watching it again there are too many differences for anyone to make a case for plagiarism.

Yes, the creature left a bit to be desired when being filmed outside of the water. The scenes with it in the water, attacking and devouring people, were impressive and had me wanting more. OK, I sucker for blood and giant pools of blood are kinda cool. In all, Creature is what it is, a B-movie full of all the clich├ęs; the sea monster, the mad scientist, the government conspiracy, religious rituals, family problems and much more. In fact, it has so many of these elements that even the most refined B-movie fanatics should fall in love with it. I will not tell you it’s a classic, but it may be worth watching (for free)!

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