(Release Date: August 26, 2005)
I really like this movie. I do. Why? Well, recently I watched an ingrown toenail of a movie known as Alien 2 (yes, a fake sequel to THAT Alien) which had an almost identical plot to The Cave, except for all the water... and for the fact that Alien 2 sucks Planetoids worth of USED ASS. After watching Alien 2, just about anything would look good, including, but not limited to a derivative, repetitive and standard Creature Feature like The Cave!
We begin years ago, behind the Iron Curtain where a group of Boba Fett-type guys have discovered an old abandoned Church out in the Carpathian Mountains (over in Dracula's old stomping grounds). Now, clearly this wasn't a church that many people could get to, so why was it built? Same reason that creepy church was built in the Exorcist Prequels. Oh, you missed those? Okay, most people did! Uh... another hint is that just before the planet swallows up Jango and friends, they all discover a mosaic of medieval knights doing battle with Demons from the center of the Earth! Ah, now you're getting it. So are the Fetts, but about that time an avalanche seals them in forever and ever.
Flash forward to the present day when a group of Danger Divers who couldn't afford a better leader than Cole Hauser (who plays Jack) are called forth to explore a cave out in the Carpathian Mountains that... nobody's ever discovered before. That is, except for some guy whose boots and clothes are found chewed on. Soon the Science Team (represented by Daniel Dae Kim's Alex and Lena Headey's Kathryn) join the Diving Spelunkers (featuring Jack, his little brother Tyler [Eddie Cibrian], his buddies Briggs [Rick Ravanello] and Top Buchanan [Morris Chestnut] and, of course, the beautiful and technically proficient sweetie in the group, Piper Perabo's Charlie) in their miles long swim under miles of granite.
Now back up there... Lena Hedey and Piper Perabo are both in the same film? Weren't these the stars of 2005's British Lesbian Romantic Comedy called, Imagine Me & You? Whoa, what if both The Cave and Imagine Me & You both take place in the same universe, ah? The ladies run off together, then run off into the Cave and have what could only be called an incredibly hot time... Man, talk about a missed opportunity for writers Michael Steinberg and Tegan West!
But I digress. It turns out that the Mosaic imagery of the Knights fighting the Monsters was pretty much dead on. There are semi-translucent demons underneath Dem Dar Hills, and they're hungry as hell. First on the menu... Hauser... Only he doesn't die.
From that point on the kids are constantly working on escape plans while dodging the nasty beasts who are all too ready to help them lose weight... in excessively painful ways. However, things do manage to get pretty scary when certain members of the wet, underground crew start to show symptoms of a strange virus.
It's pretty clear that there is no secret whatsoever about the influences that went into this movie. Aliens is painted all over this movie, as are any number of other films, such as Predator and Jurassic Park. I tell you that except for the origin of the beasts, there is so much of a similarity between The Cave and Alien 2 that I would believe that Steinberg and West had ripped that flick off... if it was even remotely possible that they even knew that Alien 2 existed.
By no means is this a great film, and not only because it's been done before (and, really, simultaneously, if you count The Descent). There is enough misplaced bravado in this flick to remake Tango & Cash nine times over. There are even a few obnoxious moments in which characters do the impossible at a moment's notice, usually with a corny, cheesy, ballsy line straight out of mid-range '80's action flicks. However, I'm happy to say that as the Monsters evolve, they do manage to come up with some cool surprises to make the trash-talkers eat there words with a little Ketchup and Salt.
The actors here are quite good, and take this film seriously (instead of waiting for the credits to end), but not TOO seriously. Hauser is interesting to watch as he deals with his impending illness. Perabo and Headey are likewise excellent, but I was bummed that they didn't kiss. Chestnut and Kim... always rule. It's more the Cookie-Cutter script that's at fault.
In truth, however, the special effects are usually pretty good. The CGI isn't completely seamless, and the creatures are scarier when barely seen. However, when they work, they work. This includes some really amazing physical Creature effects as well as some good CGI (when not over-exposed). One of the cooler features here is the use of Sonar in place of the creatures' eyesight. This, coupled with the electronic Sonar the explores use, makes for a cool inverse effect.
In short, not bad, not great. The Cave is a Popcorn movie, which is surprising as it wasn't an enormous hit. Still, it's worth a gander, and can be fun if you realize you're watching a film that isn't reaching higher than Sea Level. Two and One Half Stars out of Five for The Cave. If nothing else, it proves that there are worse things in the water than Candiria, and at the very least gives us fans of Imagine Me & You some more fantasy material. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go watch The Descent. Sure, it's just another variation on the same thing, but as long as Alien 2 is out there somewhere, The Descent is bound to be a good movie. If only in a relative way! See you in the next deep, dark reel.
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