War. War never changes. And neither does introducing a new brand of killer into that war, the likes of which few have ever seen. In the ongoing war between the Alliance and the NEB on planet Sirius 6B, self replicating, buzzsaw wielding robots who burrow underground were brought in to help sway the conflict to the Alliance’s favor. They were able to keep them at bay by wearing secret decoder bracelets that identify them as Alliance members. Remove that bracelet, and you’re gonna be able to scratch your own balls with the back of your head once it falls off into your lap.
While they knew these things would replicate, and have for the past few years (no doubt creating hordes of these things living underground), they’ve also evolved into something much more difficult to detect, and much more sinister. Unluckily for our Captain Hendricksson (Peter Weller), when the NEB sends word that they want a truce, he has to brave the harsh elements and radiation of Sirius 6B to make his way to their bunker to negotiate. Along the way he’ll discover just how far they’ve evolved.
Peter Weller, Sci-Fi, self-replicating blade wielding robots living under the sands and snow… what more could you ask for. And when I say they’re living under the snow, they leave these awesome trails all over – think sandworms from “Dune” on a much smaller scale, but times 1000. They are vicious and best of all, they keep them offscreen for about 90% of the movie which only adds to the intrigue. When they do show them though, the intimidation factor drops a few points as these things are goofy as shit.
As you would hope with a sci-fi flick, there are plenty of special effects – and some aren’t even half bad. Seeing as this film was released in 1995, a lot of the CG effects are bordering first gen. Some of it is fairly sloppy green screen type of stuff, but when they mix it with practical effects it can be pretty impressive when it’s not totally distracting. I think these days we get so used to how good CG effects look – just watch something like Pacific Rim or The Avengers too see what I’m talking about. Most of that stuff is so seamless you can barely even tell what’s real and what’s not. Screamers, on the other hand, does not have that issue.
Screamers is based off of a Phillip K. Dick story, and while I loved the story I really wish it had a little more action. It starts with a great base and unfortunately too many twists and turns start piling up near the end. It kept me guessing as to what the actual plot twist would be, but it started to get fairly predictable until the very last twist. It wasn’t as bad an M. Night Shamalamadingdong story, but it does start to approach the territory of the cheddar. I do have to appreciate whoever decided to make some of these things look like kids at some point. There’s nothing like a scene where the good guys are mowing down waves and waves of little “Davids” all calling “Can I come with you?” pathetically.
While this isn’t my favorite film with Peter Weller, it’s not too bad, and it did keep me guessing. If they just ramped up the action and cut down on some of the melodrama I think it could have ranked it up a little higher. The story was original and that’s not always easy to find in an science fiction film as they can start to feel like you’ve seen it all before. Screamers is 3.5 sandworm trails out of 5.