|Rating: The Good – 74.1
Genre: Science Fiction
Duration: 108 mins
Director: Christian Duguay
Stars: Peter Weller, Roy Dupuis, Jennifer Rubin
Decent “alien-planet” science fiction is so difficult to come by that any Dan O’Bannon adaptation of a Philip K. Dick short story which also stars Peter Weller should be given a chance. Thankfully, the result isn’t that bad although with a slightly bigger budget (or with any budget at all!) it could’ve been a lot better. Weller plays the commander of a military station on a distant planet upon which a war is being fought between Earth’s two rival powers. After being abandoned by the authorities back on Earth he decides to call a truce with the opposing force. However, in order to do so, he must cross a nuclear wasteland inhabited by lethal robotic weapons called Screamers, which were not only created by his own side but have evolved beyond their original design and are now targeting all humans.
With minimal production design and visual effects, this movie was always going to rely on the strength of its story and direction and on the actors playing it out. O’Bannon’s screenplay (based on Dick’s “Second Variety”) is clever and efficient. The scenario is intriguing though it could’ve done with some greater exposition regarding the motives of the two superpowers. The plot is reasonably original and excellently constructed. The Screamers are genuinely scary in conception which is realised well thanks chiefly to the way they sound but also to an array of clever tricks employed by director Christian Duguay.
Weller brings his usual commanding presence to the party and gives his character just the right balance between toughness and weariness. The support players range from very good to decent and given that there’s only a handful of characters in the whole movie, they do more than their fair share in giving it a distinct personality. The action is nothing special but nor is it pedestrian and it all builds to a nice climax. Overall, Screamers will go down as an opportunity wasted because with a bit more interest from the money men, this could’ve been a classic. However, as it stands it’s a fairly gripping sci-fi movie with a unique feel and vibe of it own and driven by a great premise and a fine central performance. For a science fiction movie that’s all very important.