Zhadi's Den

Random essays on wine, writing, moving to San Francisco, surfing, cats (exotic and otherwise) and zombies...depending on my mood.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

It's not just me!!!!

Must share this review of STAN LEE'S HARPIES

Harpies (2007)
Starring Stephen Baldwin, Kristin Richardson,
Peter Jason, Velizar Binev, Jonas Talkington,
Atanas Srebev, Dessi Morales

Directed by Josh Becker

Jason Avery is an ex-cop now working as a museum security guard. Armed
thieves break in intent on stealing a priceless obelisk that looks like a
glowing crystal dinosaur egg that's stored within this vault-like stone
structure that looks like someone merged a Tardis with the Stargate. The
scientist/anthropologist/whatever behind the theft talks of the obelisk
giving him the power to control harpies, demonic winged female monsters of
classic mythology. Through a series of contrived events, the obelisk opens
a time portal that Jason promptly falls into, crash landing over a thousand
years in the past in a land threatened by evil harpies. Initially only
concerned with getting home, Jason gets roped into having to save the
villagers, all of whom proclaim him to be this great "harpy slayer" that
prophecy says would one day come to save the kingdom. A lot of hullabaloo
involves this gold amulet and a mortal villain seeking to gain control of
the obelisk in order to hatch a harpy army for him to command and conquer
with. If you've ever seen Army of Darkness then you can pretty much fill in
the rest of the blanks.

In fact, if you've ever seen Army of Darkness then you have absolutely no
reason whatsoever to ever watch Stan Lee's Harpies. Even if you haven't
seen Army of Darkness there's really no reason whatsoever to ever watch
Stan Lee's Harpies.

Any similarities between Stan Lee's Harpies and Army of Darkness are not a
coincidence - especially since the director is a long-time cohort of Sam
Raimi's. Any similarities between Stan Lee's Harpies and a good movie are
non-existent. Sometimes a movie is so bad it's good and sometimes a movie
is so bad it's just plain bad. Harpies is just plain bad - not even
laughably bad. This is a movie that you can tell exactly what they were
trying to do and still watch them fail pitifully every step of the way.

How pitiful does it get? So pitiful that I began feeling bad for pretty
much everyone involved with this film's creation. Poor quality CGI,
impoverished production values, uniformly bad acting, and a clich├ęd script:
all the stuff you expect from a Sci-Fi Channel original but this time with
an extra added layer of embarrassment. There were scenes so poorly staged
that it was cringe-inducing to watch.

And for a movie called Harpies there sure weren't that many harpies filling
the screen. Every so often a woman in a cheap nightgown with frizzy hair,
fangs, too much eye shadow, fake-looking wings, and a propensity to make
squeaky snarls that sound like a mogwai in heat takes the screen (or their
animated computer effects double does) to look appallingly stupid, flap
their phony wings, and slash someone up with their claws. As pathetic
looking and utterly devoid of personality as the harpies are, they're still
what the movie is titled after and deserved more screen time that they're
given. Heck, I'd take the harpies over the boring villain named
Bor-something and his quest to unleash a harpy horde of which the bulk of
the plot is devoted to.

Even if every other aspect of Stan Lee's Harpies wasn't an unmitigated
failure, the film would still be doomed by the Stephen Baldwin factor. The
man is no Bruce Campbell, that's damn sure. Few people are. But this is a
film that's trying to make Stephen Baldwin into Ash-lite and Baldwin just
does not have the sardonic charisma to pull it off. Campbell's Ash was a
self-absorbed nincompoop who still managed to do develop some courage and
defeat the Deadites in battle while dishing out sarcastic one-liners.
Baldwin's Jason Avery is just a guy taking things way too seriously much of
the time given the film's tone and there's no zip, no punch, nothing to
Baldwin's line delivery, not that the quips he spouts off are all that
witty to begin with. What counts as clever here is having Jason say "nifty"
in the same manner which Ash said "groovy" only without anything resembling
personality in his voice. Stephen Baldwin gives a thoroughly disinterested
performance that reeks of the producers' having paid him enough to show up
and act but not enough to act like he could give a shit.

I didn't crack a smile once outside of a slightly amusing gag involving the
difficulties of firing a catapult. Aside from that one brief moment there's
not a damn thing that works in the slightest. Shows like "Hercules: The
Legendary Journeys" and "Xena, Warrior Princess" (which the maker of this
film even directed episodes of) did a vastly superior job mixing mythology,
campy humor, and action like this one a weekly basis. It's painfully
obvious the movie they were trying to make was more ambitious than the
Sci-Fi Channel budget would allow, evidenced by the sparse cast clad in
Renaissance Fair attire; though that's something of an amazing statement to
make given this really didn't appear to be all that ambitious a film,
evidenced by how little action there is with more dull skulking about the
forest and time wasted on the romance between Baldwin and a local blonde
babe than on the actual harpy-fighting which last time I checked was
supposed to be the whole point of the film. Even the Army of Darkness
finale with Baldwin battling the final harpy inside the museum in present
time is a dead zone of imagination.

Exactly what Stan Lee had to do with the creation of this movie is anyone's
guess. His name is clearly being used to market it even though the "STAN
LEE'S" part of the title is notably missing from the opening title
sequence. All I know for certain is that this is the second Sci-Fi Channel
original movie with Stan Lee's name before the title (the first being Stan
Lee's Lightspeed from last year), both of which now share the distinction
of being amongst the worst original movies the Sci-Fi Channel has ever
produced. I'm thinking Mr. Excelsior should just stick to comic books.

0 out of 5

Added: Sunday, June 24, 2007
Reviewer: The Foywonder

Labels: , ,


  • At 5:51 PM, Blogger FreeThinker said…

    Hmmm. I'll just stick with Stan Lee's Spider-Man.

    Say, have you heard about the new zombie movie Fido?

  • At 7:46 PM, Blogger zhadi said…

    I HAVE to see FIDO!!!!


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