Thursday, April 1, 2010
Rise Of The Gargoyles
(Title discrepancy alert: Despite the plural title of this SyFy movie, there appears to be only one gargoyle in this movie, albeit one that seems to change size. A more accurate title would be Rise of the Gargoyle. Or The Gargoyle Rises. Or Glitter.)
Professor Jack Randall (Eric Balfour, almost always better than the roles he gets) is a professor of architecture discredited due to his theory that the gargoyles we see on buildings represent creatures that once existed. For this wingbat idea, he has been exiled to Paris, France (This is an odd idea of a punishment detail. My boss got mad at me once and sent me to Nauvoo, Alabama for a week, which is much more punitive.) where he teaches classes of very disinterested students. My theory as to why they are so unresponsive: His lectures are in English, while the national language of France is, oddly enough, French. They just don’t understand what he is saying. Paris, in this movie, is played by Romania. Jack’s only friend is his agent, carol, who can’t sell his book since everyone knows he is nuts.
Elsewhere in Paris, workmen demolishing an old church (Why? Why not?) wake up/disturb a gargoyle and are eaten. When Carol drops by to tell Jack that yet another publisher (lulu?) has rejected him, she suggests they snap him out of the doldrums by breaking into an old church and looking for loot. Will it surprise you to learn it is the same church where the workmen became Gargoyle Chow? Inside the church, they discover and take some oblong rocks (“Gargoyle poop,” I said. “Gargoyle eggs,” said my Beautiful Wife.). Carol takes the poop/eggs home with her, and the gargoyle follows to get them back, which causes the viewer to lean to the “eggs” point of view. The poor gargoyle is able to track them across a crowded city, but fortunately for the plot, can’t find them in the cabinet where they were placed. Still, the gargoyle chases Carol out on the roof and chops off her head to teach her to leave other peoples’ stuff alone. A French Inspector probably not named Clouseau though just as competent suspects Jack, of course.
With Carol gone, Jack needs someone else to hang with, and finds Nicole and Walsh, the host and cameraman of a TV show about unexplained phenomena. No one pays any attention to their theories, either, because, again, they present them on French TV in English, although this time it’s English with a French accent. They also hook up with the even crazier Father Gable, the priest of the church where everything is going down, and the latest in a long line of priests guarding against the gargoyles return.
Movie pet peeve: The priest is depicted as kind of a lone wolf, doing his own thing, solely responsible for the church. This happens a lot in movies, and completely ignores how hierarchical the Catholic Church is. Very little is done without supervision that doesn’t involve altar boys.
Father Gable provides the exposition for the film. The gargoyles once were the scourge of the earth, and now are coming back. The gargoyle and the hundreds of eggs it has laid (it wasn’t poop) must be destroyed or all mankind is doomed. Fortunately, sunlight turns the gargoyles temporarily to stone, a brittle state in which they can be easily destroyed. Why one of the priests didn’t go down in the basement to finish off the last gargoyle during the millennia they have been watching is not explained. Jack, the TV crew and the priest go to the church to finish them off once and for all. There is an explosion.
The cast is the movie is generally pretty good, although the part of the priest is played as if there is an Oscar category for over-emoting and the actor is determined to win. The CGI is adequate, what there is of it. There are some moments of unintentional hilarity, as when the inspector is hoisted into the air by the flying gargoyle and ripped to shreds, while the evidence team nonchalantly goes about their work. The French are hard to ruffle.
The biggest problem of the movie is the lack of gargoyle face time. The gargoyle is on screen maybe five minutes, and if you sit down to watch a cheesy creature feature, you want to see lots of the creature, dammit. We mostly see the aftermath of what it has done.
Whether you should watch this depends on your enthusiasm for this kind of thing. Unless you have exhausted the pool of available low-budget monster films, there are many better options.