Monday, April 27, 2009

Threshold (Not The Series)

You’ve got to love the Sci Fi Channel – excuse me, that’s now the SyFy Channel, as they’ve now changed their name to take advantage of an apparent cross-promotion with syphilis. They take a lot of crap over the generally pitiful quality of their original programming, but without them, where would we go to see movies about moths from outer space trying to take over the world? It also has a cast made up of people from various sci-fi related series, including Nicholas Lea (The X-Files), Steve Bacic (Andromeda), Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG-1), and Jamie Luner (I’m sure she was in something, the name’s familiar).

An astronaut is floating in space, on an urgent mission to repair some space stuff, when a cloud or two blows past him. It’s better not to think about clouds blowing around airless space. One of the clouds strikes the astronaut, blowing through his suit, and into his arm, although he shows the Right Stuff by taking this calmly. It’s just the type of shit you have to put up with when you’re an astronaut.

Back on earth, the astronaut is treated by NASA’s head doctor, Dr. “Geronimo” Horne. Dr. Horne makes a pair of startling discoveries. There is living, insect-type cells in the fragments that struck the astronaut! And some are still embedded in his arm! Dr. Horne tells the astronaut there’s nothing to worry about, he doesn’t even need to be quarantined, and sure, he can sleep with the window open. He does call in entomologist Dr. Savannah Bailey to study the new DNA. Drs. Horne and Bailey clash upon first contact, which we know means they’ll fall in love. Horne tells Bailey they’re keeping the discovery of the first alien life form a secret even from the government for a while. What could possibly go wrong?

Bad news for the astronaut. His fingers turn into cocoons, moths hatch out, and he bleeds to death. That open window turns out to have been a bad idea after all. The moths escape into the outside world (Houston, Texas) and beginning biting people. Apparently, they bite anyone with the same blood type as the late astronaut, and convert them into man-bugs, complete with extra hidden appendages and nictitating eyelids. Those with different blood types shouldn’t feel left out, as they can serve as food.

One of the unusual things about this film is that through the first 40 or so minutes, the bug people only attack obnoxious jerks. An alien invasion where they kill only the assholes? I’m thinking this may not be such a bad idea.

Government spy types show up and tell Horne and Bailey if they don’t find and destroy the bug people in a day or so, the spy guys will blow up Houston with a bag of explosives. Having had generally poor experiences in Houston, I am ambivalent.

Fortunately for our heroes, the bug people have produced a giant larva, and they have to stick together to worship it, and also because they are a part of a hive, although I thought moths…oh, forget it.

Threshold is actually done with a reasonable level of competence, and the acting isn’t bad. It’s fun in a cheesy, mocking Sci Fi/SyFy sort of way.

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