Locusts (2005)

Locusts (2005)

If you can hear the buzz, it’s already too late

Dr Peter Axelrod has been genetically experimenting on locusts in a US research facility. But when Department of Agriculture scientist Maddy Rierdon shuts his project down for fear of what may happen in the locusts get out into the world, her worst fears are confirmed. Some locusts escape captivity and begin breeding in the wild at an alarming speed. Soon becoming a national threat when they start attacking planes, Maddy and her colleagues face a race against time to stop the locusts before it is too late.

 

I guess because I’d first seen the sequel, Vampire Bats (which is virtually unrelated save for the main character) that I thought Locusts would be the same sort of low budget creature feature nonsense featuring Lucy Lawless. But I was wrong on most grounds and Locusts plays out like a TV movie disaster movie in documentary-style fashion – more like something that you’d see from the 70s. Rife with clichés, cardboard characters and an overriding sense of “why bother?” it’s a wonder this ever made it to television. And if it did, I would bet that it didn’t show any earlier than 2am.

Locusts lacks any form of surprises. Or excitement. Its hackneyed drivel which would fill a late night TV schedule without any question…and any viewers too. You can watch it and as soon as you’ve finished, you’ll never remember anything that happened because it’s all so instantly forgettable. If the script isn’t bogged down enough with all of the over-used clichés (bickering couple as the main characters; scientist trying to right his wrongs; army desperate to blow everything up; etc), then its swamped with some truly pedestrian dialogue which the actors are forced to recite. The usual ‘race against the clock’ plot skims through the customary set pieces with minimal thrills and spills. Sleepwalking isn’t a term I’d used to describe the film but that’s precisely what happens.

The characters are all thinly-written stereotypes who generate no emotional response with the intended audience. I guess it’s because we’ve seen them all before in similar films and we know that a magic ‘reset button’ solution is just around the corner in the script so they’ll never be put in any real danger throughout the duration of the film because everything will turn out rosy in the end. Speaking of which, the eventual resolution to the film involves electrifying barn silos or some rubbish. I’d pretty much tuned out by that point. It’s a real grind to get to the finale  so if you do, congratulations.

Lucy Lawless looks to have fallen upon hard times since her cult status in Xena: Warrior Princess. It’s a shame because not only is she good looking but she’s a decent actress with the right material (anyone who has seen the TV series Spartacus: Gods of the Arena will know what I mean on both counts). Sadly, the right material is not on display here and she is wasted in a thanklessly one-note role which could have been given to any lesser talented actress with the same results. Though perhaps she really needs to give herself a fighting chance – the first time you see her in the film, she’s slumming around on a bed with an open gown. Co-star John Heard will be more recognisable to legions of people across the world as Macaulay Culkin’s dad in Home Alone.

The locusts look alright. I guess. Most of the time they’re just a big black blur in the sky as the swarm moves from town to town but when they do land and there’s an odd close-up, they look like nature documentary material. You never really get the sense that they pose much of a threat to people despite being able to bring down planes.

 

Locusts looks and feels like an extended episode of The X-Files. It’s a ninety minute late night TV movie which is simply intended to pad out schedules rather than entertain it’s audience. Pointless springs to mind.

 

 ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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