Cinema/TV, Film Notes

Film review – WarBirds (2008)

My notes on WarBirds (2008)

This SciFi Channel programmer was probably inspired by DC Comics’ relishably weird war series ‘The War That Time Forgot’, in which GIs clashed with dinosaurs on a Pacific island lost world during World War II. Here, the concept is even higher as the all-female crew of a US plane ferrying an officer (Brian Krause) and his vital-to-the-war-effort mystery cargo (hint – it makes a geiger counter stutter) are downed on an atoll where a Japanese unit has already been attacked by flying dinosaurs that hatch out of a stash of ancient eggs.

Writer-director Kevin Gendreau gets points for trying to spice up the SciFi grunts-vs-CGIbeast format with a period setting, even if this isn’t in the lunatic league of the conquistators-vs-tyrannosaur Aztec Rex. The no-name ladies (Jamie Elle Mann, Lucy Faust, Shauna Rappold, Gizza Elizondo) get into ‘40s hairdos and red, red lipstick and attempt snappy WWII patter (‘I promised myself I’d die happy in Clark Gable’s bed and I ain’t breakin’ that promise’), but this doesn’t manage the standard of pastiche found in that admirable, if ropey ‘80s effort Zone Troopers. The Yanks have to cannibalise Japanese planes to get back in the air, while coping with the smarmily scheming enemy commander (Tohoru Masamune), but also take to the skies in borrowed Zeros to dogfight with a flock of monsters. The cute kid on her first mission (Faust) gets creamed, which prompts the guy (Caleb Michaelson) she had a crush on to die shooting at a couple of the beasts (‘this is for you, Hoodsie’). The creatures look like turtles with wings instead of shells and flap like angry eagles rather than glide like prehistoric flying saurs – they don’t much resemble pterodactyls (who got their own SciFi premiere a while back) or pteranodons and might as well be dragons.

As usual, the effects are more enthusiastic than impressive – the monsters and the planes are equally fakey, and their clashes look like a rough draft for scenes which need about a dozen more computer passes before they’re up to snuff. It’s possible to coast through thanks to residual warm feelings about the premise, but really this needs to be rewritten by someone who isn’t primarily an effects man, and remade on a humongous budget with an A-list female cast zooming into action against really impressive monsters. I’d settle for a War That Time Forgot film or the long-delayed Zeppelin v Pterodactyls …


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