MOVIE REVIEW – Netflix has been on a roll recently, and released a slew of exclusive movies, and TV series. The Beast of No Nation, Siege of Jaggadow, The Marvel TV series, and even a few Adam Sandler comedies. While not everything was the best (especially the Adam Sandler movies), Netflix has dabbled in many genres. Recently released in Science Fiction were The 3%, ARQ, and Spectral. Today we are going to look at Spectral an original Netflix movie that takes in an Eastern European country where a civil war has broken out, but it also seems the gates of hell have also opened.
Is this another Adam Sandler tier movie, or is it the next big Scifi action movie, and the last hurrah for 2016 for Netflix? Find out here!
Something strange in the neighborhood
The story takes places in the capital of Moldova that are a main focal point of the civil war plaguing the country.The insurgents and the US Army has been fighting over the city when suddenly both sides appear to suffer from mysterious deaths on the battlefield. One of the Delta Force unit!s camera feed is finally able to pick up on this deadly phenomena. However, the General stationed at the US base in Moldova is shocked to see the footage and asks Mark Clyne, an engineer to check the footage of the hyperspectral glasses to figure out what is in the images.
The good engineer is embedded into a unit heading into the city where the Delta Force unit got killed by the „ghost.” Once they arrive, soldiers start dropping, and it is a race to survive against the cold of the enemy.
It is a relatively standard story, but some moments were legitimately disturbing, especially near the end. However, nobody should expect high-quality story is telling here, and it is mostly above the usual Asylum movie stories.
Moldova in Budapest, and Railguns
The set design is rather disappointing, as Netflix just went and made the usual: Well Eastern European cities look the same, let’s just shoot this in Hungary. This was really hilarious as I am a Hungarian and watching a bunch of Americans running around a blown up Budapest being passed around as the Capital of Moldova, although it was a bit insulting. The fake CGI laboratory at the end being on the Danube was a hilarious part of the movie. Especially considering this was the locale for the showdown.
Most of the CGI, however, was good, but not the best thing ever. The „ghosts were legitimately creepy and looked like people in constant anguish. The set design was also great and was able to show off a war-torn city realistically. The rail guns that the soldiers used near the end of the movie were spectacular, and high quality. Their armor and weapon design actually reminded me of an old horror FPS called F.E.A.R., although the movie was less scary than that video game.
All in all a good movie regarding visuals, and effects. The CGI research fortress on the Danube was a little janky, but nothing on the horrible tier.
The cliché of an American soldier
The sad part of the movie, however, is the acting. It is entirely derivative, and boring to the point of me snoring through those parts where no action was taking place. It reminded me of a bad copy of Blackhawk Down. None of the characters had any charisma, most of the line delivery was entirely flat. Plus the dialogue was cringeworthy, and dripping with military cliché. The main character is okay, but even him is a blank slate. We get some motivation of him trying to create only defensive weapons, but then we remember he works for DARPA, so anything he will ever invent will end up being used for killing.
We also get the usual kids that need to be protected actors, but luckily they are not that bad since they speak a foreign language rather than trying to make an effort in speaking / acting in English.
Bomb this place?
By no means, this is a horrible movie, but the movie feels a bit stale. It seemed like a spin-off opportunity for F.E.A.R. in the long run. Especially when we realize how messed up the ending is for the movie. The acting is terrible, though, and the cherry on the top for me was trying to sell a Hungarian city as a Moldovian capital. It would be like trying to sell Ontario as New York City to dumb people just because they are near each other in North America.
Hope this is not the path Netflix will take with these movies. While their Marvel series is great, Spectral is just a bit better than those Adam Sandler Netflix specials. This film is okay to view once, but do not expect high-brow sci-fi from it, or Edge of Tomorrow scale awesomeness.