Saturday, November 10, 2007

Baby saw a bad, bad movie

Killer Buzz (aka "Flying Virus"). I had one reason for watching this movie, and it wasn't a good enough one: Duncan Regehr was in it. (My sister said, "Oooh, now you're collecting Duncan Regehr movies?" "Yeah, well, I don't think I'll go broke doing it.")

You know things are going to be bad when the first line of the film contains the words "Kyoto Agreement". The (hehe) plot concerns a spunky journalist (Gabrielle Anwar) who is covering a story in the Amazon rainforest about tensions between Brazilian tribesmen who object to Americans polluting their land to get oil. Did you know that Brazil is an oil-producing country? Neither did I, but never mind. I guess they couldn't get permission to film in Venezuela, so the story is set in Brazil, but by golly, it's OIL that's the root of all evil (at least when there are Americans in the story), so Brazil is going to have vast oil reserves.

It starts off with intrepid reporter Anne Bauer on location with her cameraman Raka. The cleancut State Department guy who's overseeing this oil project is named Scotty, and just as he asks her out to dinner in Brasilia the project is attacked by a gang of loincloth-clad bushmen armed with spears, bows and arrows and blowpipes. Wave after wave of machinegun-toting American commandos are mowed down by flying spears and flaming arrows before they can manage to get off a single shot. Of course, they obligingly stand upright and go running across clearings even though they are surrounded on all sides by bushes and buildings, so it makes it a bit easier for the natives to take aim. And boy, can they aim! Every dart kills a soldier, and every flaming arrow hits a can of gasoline, causing an explosion which kills a few more Americans. Heck, a flaming arrow only has to hit the GROUND to cause an explosion; this is sort of the Jed Clampett method of getting oil - just shoot at the ground and it comes gurgling up. I guess in basic training, these guys were told that if their clothes catch fire, they should go flailing across country, until they find another barrel of gasoline to catch hold of for support. It's like watching 6 Denethors charging across the screen at one time.

Finally someone figures out how to take off the safety catch, and the Americans start shooting back. Eventually the natives are driven back. The next scene shows Raka filming the carnage at evening, while elegiac Samuel Barber-style music softly mourns. Funny, despite the ass-kicking the Americans took at the outset, the only bodies to be seen are natives, looking pathetically defenseless and unarmed on the ground. For some reason, Anne decides that there is a secret in the woods that both sides are after, so she drags Raka back into the woods after dark. A pattern is set: Anne makes Raka help her in some dangerous mission, then she greets every suggestion and comment he offers with arch skepticism, as if SHE's the one who needs convincing! It gets really annoying, but I think it's so we can admire Gabrielle Anwar's pouting overbite.

Cut to the chase: bad commandos come after them in a jeep, and Anne runs madly through the woods waving her flashlight. Way to go, girl, and they'll NEVER find you! As she goes, she LITERALLY stumbles over the main plot point: sinister buzzing boxes of nefarious killer bees. She takes a bullet in the shoulder, bees start buzzing around her, then she loses consciousness and turns up in a hospital room where Dr. Creepy...oops, I mean Dr. North (David Naughton) is babbling to nobody at all that the beestings that should have killed her appear instead to have produced rapid tissue regeneration and accelerated healing. He sneaks out when her estranged husband Martin (Craig Sheffer) appears. They launch into about 8 minutes of bickering, while Dr. North heads off to the jungle and manages to find and abscond with a box of bees, which he then loads onto a plane to New York, where he plans to make a fortune with Wonderbee Serum. Martin is on the same plane, having been thrown out of the hospital room by Anne - the only time I really liked her.

Then it's back to the adventures of Anne and Raka. Oh, I forgot to mention, when she leaves the hospital, she's greeted on the street by Raka and a "Happy Bar Mitzvah" sign that he's strung up on the wall to celebrate. He said they didn't have anything more appropriate to the situation, but Dean and I both thought it was typical that some Hollywood type would think that THIS is a plausible gag in a place like Brazil. I think you'd be more likely to find a sign that reads "Happy Diwali" than "Happy Bar Mitzvah" out there, if you could even find one in English.

Back to the jungle they go, in search of the mysterious "Shadow People" - the Amazon warriors who are causing such headaches for the State Department. Incidentally, you'd never know that Brazil has a government at all, or that the U.S. maintains an Embassy in that country. Nope, the whole place is run by one solitary State Department guy in a office that doesn't even have a secretary. And the Americans are allowed to just have all the oil, too; the Brazilians don't seem to care about it at all.

Now another character appears - a wombat-crazy militia guy named Ezekiel, who seems to have unlimited men, helicopters and firepower at his disposal. Believe it or not, he's played by Rutger Hauer, but he looks uncannily like Michael Moore. I expect to see him flinging a few grenades into the head offices of GM at every moment. We don't know just why, but he's also hunting for the Shadow People, and is not very dainty in his methods. Brazil has the most inflammable grass huts in the world, and we also discover that he's in charge of the nefarious Operation Hunny Pot. The deadly bees are unleashed on helpless native villages, and kill everyone, then they promptly drop dead themselves, making them a perfect weapon. Ezekiel is often seen with a revolver in one hand, and a little black book in the other; somehow, I don't think it's the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Finally, Anne and Raka are found by the Shadow People, who are led by a mysterious white man named (I kid you not) Saviour (Duncan Regehr). This is quite a cliche of Western literature and cinema - native people are well-meaning but disorganized. It takes a white man to turn them into a potent force. And sure enough, the Shadow People have been upsetting American plans to plough through the jungle to get that oil. Dear Mr. Regehr is a strikingly handsome man and a fine actor, but he's singularly ill-served by scriptwriters. He has to deliver what must be the most idiotic speech in the entire movie:
I'm trying to save a region that's being systematically destroyed by your kind. Pollution from your factories is KILLING our people. Poisoning our river, driving us from our land; you're killing us for your precious oil. This is one small example of your government's policy of sacrificing the environment for corporate greed.
Frankly, I think the writers should be commended for their restraint. This movie is over 90 minutes long, and they managed to get through the whole thing without ONCE saying "Bush".

But the bees...oh, yeah! The bees! On the plane. Well, the bees get loose and sting a number of people, including Dr. North, and Martin takes control of the situation in the cabin by getting everyone into First Class and sealing the bees into Coach by means of blankets and duct tape. No wonder they're pissed off. Millions of bees, and just one toilet. The other passengers include a nerdy kid with glasses and a laptop computer, two California surfing babes, and a caustic Bill Maher wannabe who is not only selfish and rude, but makes some RACIST remarks to the attractive black flight attendant, who promptly grabs him by the nuts and drags him back to his seat while delivering a lecture on appropriate airplane behaviour, then sends him into blessed oblivion by hammering him in the head with the seat tray. The only thing missing was the entire cabin erupting in cheers - maybe they had to cut that because it was running long.

Now, to tie these disparate themes together: Ezekiel and the commandos raid the village and capture Saviour, Raka and Anne. Raka is mysteriously knocked out by a blowgun dart just as Ezekiel is about to kill him. The big boss of the operation shows up and is none other than...tada! Scotty! The one-man State Department dictator of the Brazilian Amazon. It's all for the oil, of course. And no, he's NOT running a rogue operation here, this is all one of those covert U.S. government dealies. The bees are part of the master plan to clear the troublemakers out of the area so the oil interests can have their way with the land. Scotty orders the bee-bearing plane to be shot down, and Ezekiel passes the order along to one of his men who launches a MISSILE at the stricken passenger plane. Scotty and Co. then suit up as they prepare to unleash the deadly bees on the survivors, when Saviour reveals that he's discovered an antidote to the bee venom, and they've all been innoculated with it (that was the blow dart that hit Raka). It's the ANTIDOTE that causes the tissue regeneration, not the beestings. Then he rips open Scott's protective clothing, warriors hiding in the bushes blow darts that do the same to the other Americans' suits, the bees are released and it's Sayonara, Uncle Sam.

Now we just have to save the plane. Nerdy Kid uses his laptop computer to create multiple ID signals for the plane, which confuses the missile and it blows up just to the right of the plane. But the fuel tanks are now leaking and they have to land as soon as they're clear of the mountains. Martin charges down the plane and fastens a rope around his waist to a handrail; he opens the rear door so the bees will be sucked out, but he's sucked out too and is dangling by a rope out the side of the plane. Nerdy Kid drags him back in, then a flight attendant casually stands in the doorway and pulls the door shut again. Meanwhile, the pilot has been stung by a bee, and so Martin has to land the plane out in a field. He does it without even losing a wheel, even though they're running over several trees along the way.

Saviour, Anne and Raka arrive with the antidote for everyone who's been stung, and so the ranch was saved.

If you don't believe me, here is the trailer:


Blogger Daniel Muller said...

Bees on a Plane ?

4:42 pm  
Anonymous ellie m said...

Oh dear. Dear oh dear oh dear. I wouldn't see this one even for Regehr. From the sound of it, it is crying out to be MST3K'd.

4:56 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

It's almost incandescently bad, and MST3K was my first thought, too. But I told Dean, "You know, if MST3K were to do this movie, they'd have to watch it about SIX TIMES to collect all the comments they'd use for the final version?" According to the MST3K book, that's about the usual number of viewings required for each of their movies.

5:30 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brilliant review of the movie, watching the trailer I felt that I had actually seen the film (although I didn't believe you about Michael Moore = Rutger Hower until I saw it for myself).

You have to love the racism of "white man kill you but white man save you too!" Boy, I hope the "natives" got paid well for the privilege of playing the little brown childlike innocent folk.


12:40 am  
Blogger Dr. Alice said...

Speaking of bad movies...

I've been visiting a friend in Louisiana and brought along some of my old MST3K tapes. She's seen some episodes on video, mostly the later ones; I introduced her to "Monster-a-Go-Go," "Sidehackers" and "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians." She loved them.

I love tracking down the work of character actors that I like. I'll have to have a look at some of Mr. Regehr's films.

1:02 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to mention that all of the oil in Brazil is controlled by the (leftist) government's monopoly, Petrobras. Talk about not fitting the narrative...

I think this one is beyond parody.


5:29 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

Yes, and I believe almost all Brazilian oil is off-shore, not hundreds of miles up the Amazon. It's the worst movie I've ever seen outside of MST3K, except for Plan 9 From Outer Space, and that one's in another dimension altogether.

10:36 pm  

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