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IN SHORT: Average SF horror. Fine for teenboys.
Based on the Dark Horse comic, which I'm not familiar with (though I heartily recommend their Concrete trade paperback collections).
Virus feels like the culmination of a game of movie madlibs, being the piecemeal construction of a full length flick from bits and pieces of ideas that we've seen before. That's probably why it's being advertised as "from the producer of Aliens and Terminator 2" as you see robotic human constructs lurk in the shadows and embattled humans unloading clip after clip of heavy weapons fire into selfsame shadows. Lest you think the producer is James Cameron, which may be the point of the ad, it is not. It is his ex- (wife and partner) Gale Ann Hurd).
If you've sat through Aliens and T2 and Sphere and know the Borg and god knows how many other B-movie horrorflicks, Virus is not going to thrill you as a big screen feature. If you're just getting into this kind of stuff, as Cranky did back around age 12 or 13, reading Lovecraft and Heinlein and other SF and horror stuff, you're probably not going to be disappointed. This being the 90s, Virus doesn't feature as much gore as the Alien flicks did, but you do get Jamie Lee Curtis who, even at mother age in real life, is pretty damned hot.
Out in space, an electronic UFO special effect (complete with multicolored jaws) trashes the Mir space station and uses its links to download into a Soviet research ship, somewhere in the South Pacific. Lots of noise and electronic explosions, subtitled translations and pretty cool looking.
A week later, also in the South Pacific, a tugboat is towing a huge barge right into the middle of a typhoon. A crazy old salt of a captain (Donald Sutherland) is in charge. The crew is being paid a percentage of the cargo and the only sane mind is navigator Kit Foster (Curtis). In the eye of the storm, the Sea Star finds the now abandoned Soviet ship. With dollar signs in their eyes, apparently there's a ten percent bounty for salvage which they calculate to mean $30 millions, they latch on and board the ship.
You know from the start that Virus is going to fall into the "who will live, who will die, how will they destroy the invader" format, and the film does not disappoint. Scurrying about in the darkness of the hold are spider-like robots (looking like the creatures in the Tom Selleck/Gene Simmons thrill film Runaway) doing salvage on all electronic and random body parts. Hiding in a locker is the sole survivor, the heavily armed Nadia (Joanna Pacula). No one stops to wonder why a research vessel is loaded to the gills with surface-to-air missles and automatic weapons with thousands of rounds of ammunition. They're just (everybody join in) "trying to stay alive . . ."
Virus is a B-movie in everyway except for the high tech look and effects, which range from decidedly cool to obvious model in water tanks. William Baldwin is Jamie Lee's counterpart, as far as sanity goes, but there's no real romantic spark between the pair. The ultimate monsters are creepy looking and as our valiant heroes take 'em apart biological part by part, the effect is not as disgusting as it could be.
I'm trying to remember my teen haze, folks. Virus is light on gore and the old male-saves-female shtick. It's heavy on creepy crawly high tech and isn't difficult to sit through, even if you are an old fogey like me.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Virus, he would have paid...
It's a bad rental for Cranky. Better theater ticket for teenboy kidlets.
28 Weeks Later
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