Movie News & Reviews

Cool special effects prompt C+ for 'D-War'

There's a simple one-question test for whether you'd have any interestin seeing "D-War."

Does the thought of an army of lizard-monsters with rocket launchersfighting the U.S. Army in the streets of L.A. strike you as a) thecoolest thing you ever heard or b) just fairly cool? (I'm going to goahead and assume that no person on Earth could find that c) uncool.)

Because there's certainly not much to get out of the plotting, whichstarts off with some "Lord of the Rings"-style narration about aKorean legend about giant snakes who can become dragons every 500years, then spends all of 3 minutes with main character Jason Behrbefore he has a flashback to when he was a kid and met Robert Forster,the wise shopkeep who proceeded to tell him another flashback-stylestory about how 500 years ago, the evil snake-monster was thwarted inbecoming a dragon and would some day be back to try again.

That isn't actually as confusing as it may sound, it just takes likehalf an hour for the movie to get back to the present day.

Once the longest expository sequence in the history of cinema wrapsup, Behr sets off with friend Craig Robinson ("The Office's" Darrylthe warehouse manager) to find Amanda Brooks, who the evil snake needsto turn himself into an evil dragon. Brooks and Behr are then chasedby the snake, escape from the snake, escape from the snake again, thendo some more snake-based escaping until you just want to stand up andshout "Man! How much escaping from a thousand-foot snake-beast cantwo people do??"

At least the snake and the rest of the CG artwork looks pretty good. Theacting, however, is a sadder story, ranging from pretty dang flat toflat as a halibut crushed by a 10,000-ton snake. Robinson brings somefunny, but the rest of the humor's restricted to absurd bits like whenForster materializes from nowhere to beat the hell out of some thugshassling Brooks before he disappears back into the land of mysticalmentor figures.

It is also impressive how well a snake the size of the ChryslerBuilding is able to sneak around a city of millions without raisingalarm. I think I'd be scared about that! I'd probably be so scaredI'd be running around screaming and inciting panic among my fellowcitizens. I know urbanites are harder to impress than your averagejoe, but L.A. would have to be a city of oblivious, self-obsessedweirdos to miss a mega-demon wrecking up the place.

It's also impressive how little I cared about the love that instantlyexists between Behr and Brooks. Is knowing someone reasonablyattractive for a day really all it takes to form a bond of eternaldevotion to each other? Because that would explain a lot, but I don'tthink it's true.

What "D-War" does right, though, is show lots and lots of totallyinsane lizard-on-helicopter beatdowns. Yeah! Many lesser filmmakerswouldn't have taken advantage of the raw potential of dino-knightshaving it out with the world's most advanced war machines, but you gotto hand it to director Hyung-rae Shim. When he makes a movie abouthouse-sized lizards blowing the bejesus out of stuff, he doesn't skimpon the house-sized lizards.

"D-War" could have been pretty terrible. The acting's no good, thestory's front-loaded and way more conventional than anything aboutquarter-mile-long snakes should be, and the humor's sporadic. But inall honesty, if you're a fan of ludicrous spectacle, you're going tosee a lot of things you've never seen before.

Hey, faint praise is still praise.

Grade: C+