Saturday, March 27, 2010


A monstrous throwback to the past emerges in Alaska to menace all mankind…I’m sorry, sometimes the Sarah Palin jokes just write themselves.

A ancient creature called the Wyvern has been imprisoned in the Arctic ice for thousands of years, but melting ice (global warming, I suppose) has now freed it, and it woke up hungry and apparently pregnant, not that the two don’t go hand-in-hand. Good news for fans of giant reptile movies, not such good news for the residents of a small Alaskan town. The creature basically looks like a flying dragon, and its diet consists of homo sapiens Alaskanus, which would seem to be a high-alcohol diet.

The town seems to be one of those small villes that exist only in fiction where everyone is nice to everyone else, to the extent that no one seems to be able to bring themselves to charge anyone for goods or services. Thank heavens for that oil subsidy. The male lead is Jake Suttner (genre vet Nick Chinlund, in a much-deserved lead role), an ice road trucker whose rig was lost along with his brother in an accident. He’s just hanging around waiting for the replacement for his rig to arrive from the insurance company, moping a little over his lost sibling, and mooning over Claire (Erin Karpluk), who owns the diner. There is a fair amount of Northern Exposure-style eccentricity, such as the Mayor holding town meetings with the treasurer, who has been dead for a year. No ghost, more of an imaginary friend. The Northern Exposure connection is further hammered home by the presence in the cast of Barry Corbin, one of the series’ leads. The only slightly smarmy character is the town doctor (Rob Morrow must have been busy) who is Jake’s competition for Claire, so we know who is going to be eaten first.

Fairly quickly, the Wyvern is binging at the all-you-can-eat human buffet, and the cast is dwindling, rapidly being converted into Wyvern manure. One nice thing is there is very little time spent in convincing everyone what the menace is. I guess when your mayor talks to invisible dead people, you get used to using your imagination. Anyway, shut off from the outside world by the Wyvern using the local power grid to make a nest, it’s up to the townfolk to stop the creature from breeding. Will Jake’s ability to drive a big rig help defeat the monster? Will Jake get the girl? What do you think?

Wyvern is a cut above the usual monster-of-the-week SyFy channel fare. The CGI, while not feature film quality, is more than adequate, there is some refreshing humor in the script, and the cast is pretty good by any standards. One sad note: the local military guy/gun nut is played by Don S. Davis, better known as General Hammond from the Stargate franchise, and it was his last film. He died of a heart attack shortly after filming, and the movie is dedicated to him.

If you are the creature feature type, you will probably enjoy Wyvern. It doesn’t set the world on fire, but does a decent job of delivering what you would expect.

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