DNA (1997)

DNA (1997)

Don’t Mess with Mother Nature!

Deep in the heart of the jungle in North Borneo, a group of scientists excavate the bones of a creature buried among the ruins of an ancient and forgotten civilisation. The expedition is lead by Dr. Karl Wessinger, who has discovered how to extract DNA from the bones. They only need an enzyme to recreate the creature. Wessinger enlists the help of Ash Mattley, a local doctor who has discovered a rare bug in the jungle that will provide the necessary enzymes. Ash leads him to the source and is double-crossed by Wessinger. Two years later, Mattley is approached by a CIA agent who asks him for help in tracking down Wessinger. They head deep into the jungle to find him, not realising that Wessinger has in fact been trying to recreate the creature and has succeeded. But the creature becomes loose in Wessinger’s secret facility and begins to kill anyone and anything in it’s path.

 

I picked this up from Amazon for only $7 as I needed a ‘filler’ film to boost up my shopping basket (I like buying a few at a time and my budget wouldn’t allow me to splash out another $20 on something newer). I had assumed DNA would be your generic ‘creature on the loose in a confined space’ film but how wrong I was. We’ve got sprinkles of Predator, Alien, Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones in here to make one gigantic mess of a film. There’s little in the way of creature on the loose – more like bad writer on the loose.

The film opens like a bad Indiana Jones clone, throwing in jungles, rivers, weird tribes and underground temples and even an annoying little child sidekick for the first half of the film. But suddenly the film realises that only two years earlier, a film dealt with DNA and cloning and become one of the biggest box office attractions of all time. So it shifts into Jurassic Park mode, complete with remote compound where the experiments take place, electric fences to stop escapees, the team luring the creature with live bait (remember that classic goat scene in Jurassic Park right before the T-Rex rips it apart) – hell there’s even a token black guy who works on the computer system and who is clearly filling in for Samuel L. Jackson’s wisecracking techie. I almost forgot I was watching a film about a cloned alien until finally we see a schematic on a computer of what the creature should look like. Well it’s kind of like our first look at it but the writers seem to have cheated us out of the real thing this time.

Actually it’s not long after that the creature makes its first appearance and to be said, it doesn’t look too bad. A guy in a suit with plenty of prosthetics and make-up looks more convincing than anything CGI can come up with. It’s from here on that the film then flips between Alien and Predator. Some characters are taken out by the creature (although not nearly enough) whilst others are killed by each other (there’s the human villains to take care of remember). For the final quarter of an hour, the main hero of the film decides to go one-on-one with the creature in the jungle and if you think the film has blatantly stolen from the likes of Jurassic Park and Alien, then wait until you see how much is leeched from Predator! The creature gets thermal vision and that invisibility camouflage no less and to avoid detection, our hero covers himself in the mud on a river bank before setting traps to try and kill the creature without guns. Might I add to this entire paragraph that although the film is content with stealing from other films, it does with the lowest of budgets meaning that everything you see is a low-rent version of its more famous cousin. And it also does it so slowly too – boredom kills more people than this alien.

Mark Dascasos stars as the doctor/action hero and I was trying to hard to think of where I had seen him last. Ah that’s right, The Hunt for Eagle One, some trashy C-list action flick that we used to rent out to people at work. Clearly his career never got out of first gear. From DNA to The Hunt for Eagle One – impressive! Jürgen Prochnow adds some ‘star power’ to the cast but he’s totally slumming it here. In fact he’s arguably better in Beerfest than he is here and anyone who saw that will know that it’s nothing to be proud of. Prochnow embarrassingly overacts to try and add some menace and madness to his mad scientist persona. Robin McKee as the token female does absolutely nothing in the film. She’s not a love interest, she doesn’t do anything stupid to get the heroes trapped, she doesn’t turn on the hero at any point and join with the bad guy – she doesn’t even take her top off. It’s a completely useless and pointless role. Every other role is token: be it the bald mercenary, the little kid, the black guy, even the alien does little other than snarl a few times.

 

DNA is trashy on every level: terribly cast with a stolen script, a low budget (the helicopter crash has become something of legend – check it out on Youtube) and not an ounce of originality about it. It’s everything that’s bad about popular mainstream films – they always spawn such cheap jack imitations as this!

 

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