Dragon Wasps 2012

film Review

A scientist enlists the help (with surprising ease) of the US army to investigate the mysterious disappearance of her father, deep in the Belizean jungle. Caught in the crossfire between a brutal guerilla army controlled by a mystical warlord, they are also confronted by an even bigger terror – giant mutated wasps that are, for some reason, thirsty for blood.

It’s a situation that everybody has found themselves in at one point or another, so it’s easy to empathise with the poorly-rendered characters. The US soldiers are lifted directly from video games from the nineties; they are gruff, manly, and completely two dimensional. The warlord, named Jaguar and rife with patois, fulfills the “magical black friend” film stereotype perfectly, with the added bonus of a missing eye to add some further tedious mystery to this boring character. The fact that the film relies on such a clichéd trope says a lot about the lack of thinking behind the film – not once, along the entire process, has anyone involved tried to do anything completely unexpected within the genre norms.

The characters can be separated thusly: the soldiers are honest, and trusting; the guerillas are duplicitous and cruel; and the scientists are naive and hot. Not once do any of the characters break any of these character traits, not even for a split-second of moral ambiguity or, heaven forbid, an interesting ethical conundrum.

In this vein, the dialogue is trite and adds nothing to the film at all. Every line is completely predictable, from the “gags” to the “deep and meaningful” ruminations on life and relationships. The story progresses and there’s twists and turns, but nothing great.

Written by creature feature connoisseur Mark Atkins (Sand Sharks; Snakes on a Train; 30,000 Leagues Under the Sea) and directed by Joe Knee, the film stars Corin Nemec (Stargate SG1; Smallville; Supernatural), Dominika Juillet (Dark Angel), Benjamin Easterday (Stargate SG1; Fast & Furious 5) and Nikolette Noel (The Expendables 2). Juillet gives comparitively the best performance here, in that she seems to mostly resemble a sentient human capable of expressing and responding to the most basic of human emotions.

The film is sold as “Eight-Legged Freaks meets Predator” but isn’t as good as either of those admittedly mediocre films (Predator is completely mediocre – deal with it). It plays like a TV movie with aspirations above it’s medium, but no matter how hard it tries it falls short, every time.

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