20 January 2015

VIRUS (1999)


Alternate German Title:
Virus - Schiff ohne Wiederkehr

USA, 1999
Director: John Bruno


John Bruno is a visual effects artist who created and designed visual / special effects for Hollywood directors like James Cameron ("Terminator 2", "True Lies", "The Abyss" "Titanic" & Avatar"), Tobe Hooper ("Poltergeist"), Tom Holland ("Fright Night"), Ivan Reitman ("Ghostbusters"), Tim Burton ("Batman Returns") or Renny Harlin ("Cliffhanger"). He received an Oscar for his work on "The Abyss", as well as 5 more Oscar nominations. I guess you can say that Bruno's quite pre-eminent in his field.

In 1999, he got the chance to direct his very first movie... his first and ONLY movie, thank goodness! Bruno might be an excellent effects artist, but when it comes to directing, he is quite a hack (no offense). "Virus", the feature adaptation of the comic books of the same name, is a dumb, dull and ho-hum sci-fi/action/horror-flick, following a tugboat crew who boards a Russian research ship which is infected by an intelligent and murderous alien life form...

You may think with a budget of about $75 million(!), a top class cast consisting of Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Sutherland and William Baldwin, and an armada of super-talented effects artists like Joel Harlow (Oscar for "Star Trek 2009") or Eric Allard (the creator of "Number 5"), this has just to be awesome. Unfortunately, "Virus" is far from being a good film, it's unoriginal, unintentionally silly and unimaginative from start to finish - and it also became a massive box office bomb (only $30 million worldwide).

The movie is packed with tons of really fantastic-looking special / visual / make-up effects and great-looking set pieces. Unfortunately, aside from that, it's shallow, bland and boring. Bruno is a terrible director, unable to create thrills or chills, unable to entertain the audience. The screenplay isn't much better. It's as if Dennis Feldman ("Species") and Chuck Pfarrer ("Darkman") threw all of their favorite movies into a blender... um, a defective blender. Imagine "Alien", "Aliens", "Terminator", "Hardware", "Saturn 3" and "Moontrap" taking place on
that silly ol' 1980 "Death Ship" - that's "Virus" in a nutshell.

There's absolutely no chcracter development and most of the acting is rather wooden. Curtis and Baldwin are okay, but Sutherland's performance is so silly, so bonkers, so incredibly laughable, it's (almost) fun. You can see how much he didn't care about his own character (alcoholic asshole ship's captain) 
in every! single! scene! he's! in! Imdb user "bob the moo" nailed it: "Sutherland (...) is completely off his tits! He clearly has decided to see how far he can push his performance before his director spots that he is taking the piss - and it looks like the director never spotted it!"
Also: horrid performance by Polish actress Joanna Pacula as completely non-believable Russian officer. Where's Milla when you need her?

In a 2003 interview with IGN.com (see here), Jamie Lee Curtis said about "Virus": "It is so bad that it's shocking... That would be the all time piece of shit...
It's just dreadful."
Okay, I beg to differ. It's definitely NOT that bad. Mrs. Curtis starred in movies that are way worse ("Beverly Hills Chihuahua", "Christmas with the Kranks"...). "Virus" is watchable, especially if you like watching cool special effects and/or stupid throwaway sci-fi shit. Other than that, don't bother checking it out.

1 comment:

  1. I worked on this one - have a credit and everything. It was a wild show to work on. It was obvious even in production it wasn't going to work well. And I think all the crazy stories of its production will make for a good post over at my blog if I can ever find the time to work my way through to it.


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