>> Fantastic Fest 2008: Day Four

Terra / USA / Directed by Aristomenas Tsirbas

Synopsis:  War-mongering humans decide to invade the planet Terra, home of the peaceful Terrans and their air-based society.

Terra is a ham-fisted, naive mediation on war, barely disguised as a kid’s sci-fi flick.  For those that complain about hidden messages in Pixar films, I present Terra, a film so completely lacking in subtext as to exist strictly as a movie version of an anti-war bumper sticker.  I appreciate the sentiment, but I like my movies with a little more subtlety.  From a design standpoint, Terra sports really great environments and lots of cool spaceships, even if I did think the characters themselves sported the unappealing design trends found in most European video games.  Ultimately, I wanted to like this original piece of sci-fi more than I actually did.

5 on a 1 to 10 scale

JCVD / Belgium / Directed by Mabrouk El Mechri

Synopsis:  A bank heist goes awry when former action star Jean Claude Van Damme, playing himself, enters the bank and becomes the robbers’ most valuable hostage.

Whatever you think this film is, it isn’t.  And whatever you think about Van Damme going in, will be changed completely by the time you come out of this movie.  Here is an actor laying himself bare, in the most “meta” of ways, somehow addressing every audience criticism of his acting and his body of work, while still telling a suprisingly original heist story.  JCVD is entertaining, funny, and complex, and its refreshing to have your expectations and preconceptions destroyed so completely by this film and this actor.

8 on a 1 to 10 scale

The Burrowers / USA / Directed by J.T. Petty

Synopsis:  When a family goes missing, a posse is quickly assembled to find them.  Suspecting the work of savage Indians, what they come across is actually far more serious and deadly.

This is a well-shot, well-directed horror/western, with a capable cast of character actors like Clancy Brown and Doug Hutchison, that add to the authenticity of the film.  The Burrowers is too much of a monster movie for fans of the western, which is a bit of a shame, as the movie doesn’t quite go far enough for horror fans.  The Burrowers ends up directionless, stuck somewhere in the middle of the two genres it straddles–competent and well-crafted, but lacking in excitement or scares.

6.5 on a 1 to 10 scale

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1 Comment

  1. Terra was a little to political for me and at times I questioned whether it really was a film for kids. JCVD was the shit, ‘nough said. I liked The Burrows and I do agree with you that it’s more of a horror than a western.


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