The Gratuitous B-Movie Column 9.9.13 Issue #273: Shockwave (2006)
Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz on 09.09.2013
In this issue I take a look at the 2006 low budget sci-fi action flick from director Jim Wynorski, Shockwave, plus two Strange Thoughts, two more batches of Things to Watch Out For This Week, a new B-Movie Babe is named, a new Douchebag of the Week is crowned, and more. Check it out.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #273: Shockwave (2006)
Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never been subject to a full investigation by the galactic authorities, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number two hundred and seventy-three, I take a look at the low budget sci-fi action flick from 2006, Shockwave, directed by the great Jim Wynorski under the pseudonym Jay Andrews.
Shockwave, also known as A.I. Assault, is one of those low budget sci-fi action flicks that, despite its budget limitations, somehow manages to be incredibly entertaining. The story is ridiculous and the CGI special effects aren't all that slick looking, but the movie, written by Wynorski and Bill Monroe, has plenty of heart and spunk, and sometimes that's all you need to have a good movie.
The movie starts out with a way too long but still fun sequence where a group of soldiers and scientists run for their lives from a pair of giant killer robots. The scientists have no idea how to shut the robots off, and the soldiers don't have the necessary firepower to kill them. The soldiers and scientists turn out to be no match for the robots. The scene then shifts to a military aircraft in the middle of a horrendous storm. Apparently the robots were somehow subdued off screen during the opening credits sequence and are now on their way to a testing ground in Australia. Flying the plane is Major Lane (George Takei), and the scientists in charge of the robots are Dr. John Foster (the great Robert Picardo) and Marlon Adams (Alexandra Paul). As you'd expect them to, the robots somehow come to life in the cargo hold and start killing people left and right (suffice to say, Takei and Paul and, to a slightly lesser extent Picardo, are on cameo duty here). The plane crashes somewhere in the Pacific, and the military becomes very afraid. Did the robots survive the crash? Did anyone survive the crash? What the hell happened?
The military, led by General Buskirk (Worf hisself Michael Dorn), Admiral Harrison (the great Tim Thomerson), and Dr. Susan Foster (Lisa LoCicero), decide to activate a Navy SEAL team to travel to the Pacific, find the island the plane crashed on, and then try to find the robots. Because the robots are built to withstand most conventional firepower the SEALs will have to use a special laser gun that will fry the robots' electronics, allowing them to be captured. While all of that is going on, a group of criminals (Rork, as played by Blake Gibbons, Tiffany, as played by Hudson Leick, and Shane, as played by John J. Dalesandro), after robbing a cruise ship, try to escape to an unknown destination via helicopter. However, because of the storm, pilot Jack McKenna (Josh Coxx) can't get his passengers to their destination. McKenna ends up landing on a nearby island that, at first, seems uninhabited. Of course, this being a movie, we all know that the uninhabited island is where the military plane crashed and where the killer robots are roaming the land, looking for things to kill.
So then some stuff happens, the criminals cross paths with the robots, the SEALs land on the island and cross paths with the robots, too, and then all hell breaks loose. People on both sides start dying, general mayhem ensues, and the robots try to find a way off the island. No one wants to find out what will happen if the robots get off the island.
The opening chase sequence is a tad too long, but it's still fun. The robots, which sort of look like giant insects, show no mercy and look intimidating, even if they are obviously CGI. The giant robot hand practical effect, amazingly, isn't as effective as the CGI effects. There are framing issues throughout, although I have a feeling that's due to the full screen aspect ratio (the robots disappear several times when it's obvious they should have been front and center or off to the side but still visible). The movie also seems to shift between "made for basic cable"/PG-13 violence and bloody decapitations for no real reason. The shift is quite jarring, especially after watching a guy lose his head and then, in the next scene, a robot picks a guy up and rips him in two but you don't really see it happen. Why emphasize some nasty effects but not others? Is it a money thing?
The giant coincidence that allows the criminals and the SEALs to meet up on the island is also a little hard to swallow at times. It's all just a little too convenient, eventhough it's just a movie. Does the movie even need the criminal element? Is the criminal gang in the story because of the need for a helicopter? Wouldn't it be easier to just have the SEALs take on the robots and leave it at that?
And why change the title from A.I. Assault to Shockwave? A.I. Assault makes sense. I have no idea how Shockwave makes sense.
Even with all of those issue, Shockwave is still fun throughout. The movie is also filled with great performances. Joe Lando does a great job as Major Richard Tunney, the SEAL team leader. He isn't as charismatic as Coxx, who does a bang up job as the hapless helicopter pilot Jack, but then you get the sense that Tunney isn't supposed to be about getting people to sort of join his cause. He's leading his team into combat, and as long as they respect him (and they do) he doesn't need to do anything else. Lisa LoCicero shines as Dr. Susan Foster, mostly because she doesn't come off as ridiculous when she joins the SEAL team on the island. She probably should have been decked out in the same kind of body suit as the SEALs, but that's just a minor quibble. And, as I said, Coxx is excellent as the helicopter pilot Jack.
Blake Gibbons lays the asshole bad guy shtick on a bit thick as lead criminal Rork, but you sort of like him anyway (well, you like as much as you can like a cold blooded killer and criminal scumbag). Leick gives a goofy performance as Rork's main squeeze Tiffany, and poor Dalesandro gets his ass kicked as Shane.
As for the cameos, Robert Picardo's cameo is probably the one you'll remember the most. Alexandra Paul goes out like a punk, as does Takei. You would think that Mr. Sulu would have warranted at least a little in the way of defense before getting killed off screen, but apparently that just didn't fit into the budget. Tim Thomerson as an Admiral is hilarious, and Dorn gets to play a general who, while trying to decide whether or not he should nuke the island the robots are trying to escape from, decides to sit in a movie theatre and watch killer robotic research videos. That's a dedicated man. And the great Bill Mumy is one of the goofiest movie military men you're likely to see in any movie.
Shockwave is a nifty low budget sci-fi action flick. Even with its issues it's still a fun movie watching experience. I wouldn't mind seeing a sequel or some kind of big budget remake. Both would kick ass.
Seek out and see Shockwave. See it, see it, see it.
So what do we have here?
Nudity?: None. This kind of movie isn't about that, but then it wouldn't have hurt, either.
Doobage: Scared people crawling around in the desert, giant 4 leg killer robots, decapitation, metal rod through the chest, attempted escape via truck, multiple grenade attacks, inappropriate witty banter, another decapitation, multiple disintegrations, a low budget plane flying through a low budget storm, attempted barfing, giant robot arm through the wall, a choke, an off screen face crushing, an off screen plane crash, a cruise ship robbery, cold blooded murder, a bloodied stranger, stock footage of an aircraft carrier, a meeting, a messed up helicopter, a bag of money, total body destruction, helicopter stealing, plane wreckage, robots building a helicopter, exploding human, black and white footage of the robots in training mode, rocket attack, a Circuitry Man homage, sniper attack, a cave hideout, a massive C-4 explosion, hot wiring a helicopter, and an exploding island.
Kim Richards?: None.
Gratuitous: Desert, giant 4 legged killer robots, multiple decapitations, multiple disintegrations, inappropriate witty banter, Jay Andrews, George Takei, George Takei as a pilot, Robert Picardo, Alexandra Paul, attempted barfing, multiple off screen face crushings, off screen plane crash, Michael Dorn, Bill Mumy, Joe Lando, a cruise ship robbery, Tim Thomerson, Tim Thomerson as an Admiral, Navy SEAL hooey, a messed up helicopter, total body destruction, helicopter stealing, plane wreckage, Michael Dorn watching black and white robot research footage in a movie theatre for some reason, robots "sharing energy information," a massive C-4 explosion, hot wiring a helicopter, and an exploding island.
Best lines: "So what do we do now?," "Can't you just shit it down?," "Building giant mechanical war machines armed with every weapon known to science, what could possibly go wrong?," "Not feeling well, huh?," "Will you please chill?," "Whoa! What the hell was that for?," "I knew this was going to suck," "Can you fly in this? What? I said can you fly in this? No! Wonderful," "Fly the damn chopper, Jack," "Chill out, Shane, you got reservations somewhere or what?," "Hey, my kid would love that for Christmas," "What about the money? Give it to me," "What about the laser gun?," "So what you're telling us is we need my chopper just as much as those goddamn machines?," "Well, if we're going to do it lets do it. It's going to rain," "What the hell was that all about? Maybe he went to get an umbrella," "Rough luck. With all of that money he probably could have afforded health care," "Are you sure we killed it? Yes, it's dead," and "Can't change what will be. Well, you sure can try."
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And please check out my interview with director Brett A. Hart about the Ain't It Cool internet show and more!
Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 1
- Star Trek Into Darkness: I did a mini-review of this awesome sequel back in issue 263, and while it probably won't be as visually spectacular on a smaller screen, I bet the movie will still kick ass regardless. I still question, though, the marketing strategy behind not letting everyone in the world know right up front that Khan character is in the movie. It just makes no sense to keep that fact a secret, especially since everyone would end up knowing it eventually (the internets isn't going anywhere).
- Frankenstein's Army: This horror flick, which did have a small theatrical release earlier this summer, has been getting some good reviews, and I think, despite its "found footage" gimmick, looks pretty cool. The experimental monsters are freaky looking. Be sure to check out the latest issue of Fangoria as Frankenstein's Army is on the cover.
- The Black Waters of Echo's Pond: This low budget horror flick did receive a decent sized theatrical release a few years ago, so there's a chance you may have seen it. I didn't, but then I didn't know it was playing near me until it was too late. It has a good cast (Danielle Harris, the Robert Patrick, among others) and it looks kind of messed up (that make-up effect on display in the trailer is terrifying). Definitely worth a rental, at least.
- The Contractor: So is Danny Trejo the bad guy in this flick, or am I missing something here? If you look at the DVD cover the movie looks like some kind of low budget knock off of his Machete franchise. I'm going to assume that that is not the real case at all. It's too bad Trejo couldn't team up with Wesley Snipes as he, too, has done a movie called The Contractor.
- Frankenhooker: This 1980's horror comedy classic directed by Frank Henenlotter is a must see. If, for some reason, you haven't seen this movie yet, this Synapse Films release is worth getting. And if you have already seen the movie, well, you should get this release anyway. Synapse always puts out great DVDs.
Remember that scene in Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket when Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermey) wanted Leonard "Private Pyle" Lawrence (Vincent D'Onofrio) to "choke himself" for "grinning?" What would Hartman have done if, after choking Lawrence, Lawrence was still "grinning?" Would Hartman have choked Lawrence again? Would he have punched Hartman in the gut or face or something?
I mean, some people just can't stop grinning. It's just the way their face is. It isn't their fault that they can't stop grinning. I have a feeling that Hartman wouldn't have choked Lawrence again, but he definitely would have smacked him across the face like he did to Private Joker. That definitely seems like a second step in that process. And then, after that...? Push-ups? Do you think Hartman would have played the push-up card on the first day?
And would Hartman have felt bad for essentially beating the crap out of Lawrence for something he couldn't control? He certainly wouldn't have said "sorry" in front of everyone, but I guess there's a chance that, in the private company of his fellow drill instructors, Hartman would have said "I shouldn't have choked that guy. That was a mistake."
But then, even with a loaded rifle pointed at him, Hartman couldn't hold back on the insults. Maybe he just didn't have the ability to apologize in him.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Theme of the Week
More Strange Thoughts
Remember that scene in the family comedy Troop Beverly Hills when the malevolent Wilderness Girls leader Velda (Betty Thomas), after watching her handpicked jamboree winner lose a segment of the competition because of a skunk, grabs the skunk by the tail and tells the skunk she's going to kill it? And then, in the next scene, she's wearing a skunk hat? Did she really kill (and eat) that skunk?
I mean, if she did kill it, did she do it in front of her daughter and her friends? Did she kill the skunk with a big rock, or did she slit its throat and then gut it in her tent? I know that Velda is evil and awful and whatnot, but would she really kill a skunk in front of everyone?
And what about the skunk's spray pouch? What did she do with it? Did she just throw it away, or did she use it somehow to make the skunk meat tender? You'd think she would have thrown it at Shelly Long's team, or had one of the "Red Feathers" put it in one of the Beverly Hills backpacks.
I may be thinking about this scene a tad too much. Am I the only one who has thought about this?
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Babe of the Week: Hudson Leick
Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 2
- Revelation Road 2: The Sea of Glass and Fire: Yet another "rapture" inspired low budget Christian adventure movie, although this one has Eric Roberts (he will clearly appear in anything as long as the check clears), Ray Wise, the Brian Bosworth (what the hell happened to him?), and the Man Called Sting Steve Borden (I know what happened to him, but he still shouldn't be doing a movie like this). The trailer makes the movie look kind of okay, but I'm willing to bet that the movie actual movie itself is excruciating. Rental only.
- Lust of the Dead: Yet another wacked out Japanese horror flick. This one doesn't look as wacky and insane as others, but it still looks pretty messed up. Isn't that what you want, though, in a movie called Lust for the Dead? I think this movie is also known as Rape Zombie. What the hell does that mean?
- Delete: The great Seth Green looks to be getting his low budget badass on in this, well, low budget sci fi action flick. I would probably rent it first, though, as these kinds of movies tend to be slow (there just aren't that many tight low budget sci fi action flicks).
- Hammer of the Gods: Yet another low budget Viking flick. I'm not complaining or anything, it just seems like we're getting more of these kinds of movies now than we did in the past. Anyone out there have any idea as to why that is, besides there being an audience for it? I mean, is that the only reason?
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week
This week, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week goes to right wing Congressperson Peter King, for complaining about President Obama's "weakness" regarding the ongoing Syrian thing. King, who actually thinks he has a shot at becoming President of the United States (I have a better shot of becoming President), can't stop going on TV to tell everyone in the world that he thinks the President is just a big pussy for not bombing the crap out of Syria immediately. Because, you know, Congressperson King would have become a big supporter of the President if the President did that. He wouldn't have gone on TV immediately after the first bomb dropped to complain about how the President didn't explain himself to Congress, didn't explain himself to the "international community," and didn't explain himself to the American people. Not a chance of that happening.
The only reason the Republicans are against bombing Syria is because the President is for it. If the President goes on TV tomorrow night to say that he's changed his mind about bombing Syria the Republicans will suddenly be all for it. That's just the way they are at the moment. They are not serious people.
President King? Ha. Ludicrous.
And then there's the news media in general, for actually asking former Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld what he thinks of President Obama's handling of the ongoing Syrian crisis. Why would anyone give a flying fuck what Rumsfeld thinks about anything? He has no credibility to discuss anything outside of what he thinks he should have for lunch. And even if the so called "liberal" media, like CNN, is set to ask Don "tough" questions regarding his fuck ups, who gives a shit? He isn't going to suddenly say "Yeah, you're right, I'm a douchebag piece of shit liar." He's just going to go on Fox and whine about how the "liberal" media is unfair and doesn't understand him. Fuck that shit. And fuck Don Rumsfeld.
And finally there's the news media, for going batshit over the Miley Cyrus performance at the MTV Music Video Awards show. What should have been, at best, a thirty second story the day after the show, turned into a several day discussion on the end of democracy, American culture, and what's going to happen to America's children because Miley Cyrus "twerked" on TV. Was the performance gross and disgusting and disturbing? Yes, but that's because Miley Cyrus is generally gross, disgusting, and disturbing, but, at the same time, America isn't going to fall because Miley Cyrus can't stop sticking her tongue out. It's just more "shocking" pop culture bullshit that will be instantly forgotten by October (if it isn't already forgotten now). Everyone needs to just calm the fuck down. Can we do that, folks? Can we?
NASCAR and Indycar thoughts
So the 2013 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup field is set, with last year's champion Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, and Ryan Newman missing the 12 car field, and Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, and Martin Truex, Jr. making the Chase. Everyone seems to think that Clint Bowyer intentionally spun out so his Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Truex could make the Chase, and everyone wants to know what the hell has happened to Jimmie Johnson, who had yet another horrendous race (he finished 40th).
I only got to see the last 60 laps or so of the race at Richmond, so I didn't get to see what happened to either Johnson or Gordon, who had the pole for the 400 lap race. Carl Edwards eventually won the race, allowing him to finish 1st in the "regular season" part of the season. Dale Jarrett seemed to think that Edwards jumped the last restart and that he should have been penalized by NASCAR, but it seemed like leader at the time of the restart Paul Menard either had a problem or was dogging the start. Restarts seem to be a big problem at the moment regardless of the series. I think it's high time that every sanctioning body alter its restart policy by simplifying it to the following: when the green flag comes out, go. Fuck this "restart zone" shit. It's become way too complicated for its own good.
Ryan Newman was pretty pissed off that his pit crew cost him the win. He probably shouldn't have pitted in the first place. I know it was all about tires and a possible fuel issue, but why not go for it if you have the chance? It's not like there were 15 laps to go at the end, and with the way NASCAR takes forever with its caution periods there were only going to be like 3 or 4 laps to go when the green flag came out again. If Kurt Busch doesn't win a race in the Chase I'll be very surprised.
I'm not sure what to make of the Clint Bowyer thing. He doesn't seem like the kind of guy that would be a "good teammate," and how could the team know that Bowyer would be in a position at the end of the race to be a good teammate? ESPN made a big deal out of the "Is your arm itching?" comment made by Bowyer's crew chief, claiming that it was some kind of code phrase for Bowyer to initiate the "get Truex into the Chase" plan. But, again, how would MWR know that Bowyer would be in a position to do that towards the end of the race? What if Bowyer had been in the race lead at the time?
I'm going to need more proof before I can say that Bowyer intentionally spun out at the end of the race. At the moment, it just seems like he had a tire issue and spun out.
I did get to see some of the Nationwide race on Friday night. Brian Scott should have won that one, but Brad Keselowski passed him and ended Scott's chance at his first career Nationwide win. Leading almost the entire distance at a place like Richmond is incredibly difficult, but then Scott had that kind of car under him. I really thought, though, that Sam Hornish was going to be the guy to pass Scott at the end. Hornish seemed like he had a car good enough to do it.
Chicagoland is up next for both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series, with Nationwide racing on Saturday afternoon and Cup racing on Sunday. Will Jimmie Johnson break out of his funk and start kicking ass again, or will Matt Kenseth spank the field?
Over in Indycar, it looks like the series is going to stage an event on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2014. The test last week apparently went well, and both Graham Rahal and Ryan Briscoe, the testers, are all for racing on the road course. I still think it's a bad idea. If the series doesn't want to race in Brazil in May but still wants to stage an event somewhere, the series should find an oval to race on instead of a slow, boring road course like IMS.
And Scott Dixon was fined $30,000 for his "Beaux Barfield should be fired" remark. It isn't surprising that Dixon got fined, but $30,000? Isn't that a tad steep, especially since the Indycar series isn't exactly rolling around in money? Even the Ganassi team has a budget.
Is Tony Kanaan going to race in NASCAR in 2014? Kanaan apparently met with Joe Gibbs Racing about competing in the Nationwide Series next year with a possible Sprint Cup opportunity in 2015. I would suspect that Kanaan would prefer to stay in Indycar, but since just about every team that has shown interest in hiring the 2013 Indy 500 champion needs him to bring major sponsorship along, NASCAR may be his only American option (sports cars don't seem to be an option right now). NASCAR didn't work out for Dario Franchitti, but, if it's a good opportunity, Kanaan should take it. He's done everything there is to do in Indycar. If Indycar doesn't want him anymore, he should go somewhere that wants him. I guess we'll know soon enough where Kanaan will be in 2014.
The Indycar Series doesn't race again until October. A month layoff? What kind of hooey is that?
Well, I think that'll be about it for this issue. B-movies rule, always remember that.
If there's anything you want to see reviewed here in this column, feel free to offer a comment below or send me an e-mail. I'm always on the lookout for new stuff to watch.
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Joe Lando- Major Richard Tunney Lisa LoCicero- Susan Foster Josh Coxx- Jack McKenna Blake Gibbons- Rork Hudson Leick- Tiffany Smith Michael Dorn- General Buskirk Bill Mumy- Major Heath Alexandra Paul- Marlon Adams Robert Picardo- Dr. John Foster George Takei- Major Lane Tim Thomerson- Admiral Harrison Roark Critchlow- Daryl Cage John J. Dalesandro- Shane
Directed by Jim Wynorski (as Jay Andrews) Screenplay by Jim Wynorski and Bill Monroe