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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Friday, April 21, 2023

Komodo (1999)

The movie opens with a ship unloading illegal animals on an island off of the coast of North Carolina. Some of those are mysterious looking eggs that the hippie (how they billed him, no judgement from me) drops. Nineteen years later, which we find out thanks to a nice crawl on the screen, a young boy named Patrick arrives on the island with his parents and his dog Buster. God Damn it movie don’t do it… After some exploring something chases him and yes they kill the dog. And his parents too! But I'm really sad about the dog. 

Things move to a time after that where we meet a therapist named Victoria who is trying to help Patrick. He has blocked out what happened and is suffering from PTSD. Her bright idea is to take him back on the island to see if they can trigger his memories and get him some resolution. The island is now off limits or at least I think it is. There is some question about that. What is obvious is the only people on the island are the oil company employees, specifically a couple of men hired to kill on the creatures running around on it. See those eggs from earlier were Komodo Dragons, which are endangered. If it were to get out that there was a colony of them on the island it would mean the company would have to stop drilling.

This led them to not telling anyone of the danger which the evil boss doubles down on when he callously gives the “no witnesses” order. Yep, everyone must die. Thankfully Oates, one of the hunters, saves Victoria and Patrick by flying them off in a helicopter to live happily ever after. Well other than the PTSD from all the other friends and relatives that Patrick just saw torn apart and eaten.

Komodo is one of those movies that you don’t want to overthink if you want to enjoy it. There are obvious plot holes that the audience needs to accept, and the movie has a sort of nonending that is a bit annoying. But what it lacks it more than makes up for by checking all the creature feature boxes. It establishes that there is something going on quickly and as much as I hate them killing the dog right off it does let you know that no one is safe. I mean honestly, they killed the dog! It is also a neat trick that they keep the creatures hidden for the first half hour or so while again letting the viewer know that there is danger. Showing the monster too early is a mistake that far too many of these movies commit.

When we do see the Komodo Dragons they look pretty good. They are brought to the screen with a combination of CGI and practical effects work. We get many closeups of the monster attacking the cast and it put a smile on my face to see the latex and rubber doing their thing. The appliances look great. When it is CGI, mostly for the long shots and them moving around the screen, it is also pretty good. CGI, especially in the late nineties, can be hit or miss but here they hit. That shouldn’t come as a big surprise since the director, Michael Lantieri, was a special effects guy on lots of movies including the first couple Jurassic Park flicks. When a guy comes from that side of the house it normally means that the creature effects will at least be good.

The cast has a couple familiar faces. Jill Hennessy is mostly known for her work on television but does a decent job here playing Victoria. She isn’t given much to do but does her best to bring what has to be the worst therapist ever to the screen. Billy Burke who I guess is best known to a certain crowd from the Twilight series is our heroic hunter who refuses to commit murder. They do try to shoehorn a backstory about a dead wife and being on the run in a ham-fisted way but again he isn’t given much to do other than shoot a shotgun and be heroic. Again, this isn’t the kind of movie you watch for plot and character development. Nope this is all about the big ass lizards!

While not a perfect movie this is a perfectly watchable creature feature. Manage your expectations and I think you will have fun with Komodo. This seems to be streaming all over the internet on various services as of the writing of this review so it shouldn’t be hard to find.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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