Pterodactyl (2005)

Pterodactyl (2005)

Ptowering Pterror

A small scientific expedition head off to explore a dormant volcano in a remote part of Turkey. However they don’t realise that the volcano is host to a whole batch of prehistoric eggs which hatch out into pterodactyls. In the midst of all of this, a group of US commandos are in the area hunting down a notorious terrorist. When the pterodactyls attack, both parties are forced to team up in order to survive.

 

Don’t you just love films like this? Well you may not but I do. There is something so satisfying about picking up a film with a title like Pterodactyl because you know pretty much what you’re going to get. There’s no hiding the fact that this film is about monstrous pterodactyls which kill people. And that’s the beauty of it. Simple and effective. You can straight down to business without having to sit through plenty of character exposition and fleeting glimpses of a monster. In this type of film, it’s a simple matter of how long it takes for the monsters to appear, as opposed to finding out what the monsters actually are in the first place – the title has already done that for us! This is another release from the Sci-Fi Channel, their latest in a line of not-very-good monster flicks. Will this be any better than the others?

Let’s get straight to business shall we? Let’s talk about the pterodactyls. After all, it’s the only reason I decided to watch it. The monsters aren’t half as bad as you would expect them to be. They’re CGI and they stick out a mile away when trying to ‘interact’ with the characters (i.e. ripping them in half) but they’re no where near as bad as some of the other monsters I’ve seen. There’s quite a few of them in the film too – not just one. And they are pretty well fed too as loads of pointless characters are given some brief screen time before being offered as a sacrifice for the viewer. Unfortunately the death scenes are pretty similar in that the pterodactyls swoop down dramatically and then whisk someone off into the air or take a head with them, leaving the body behind.

Quite why pterodactyl eggs suddenly roll out of the volcano at the beginning of the film after millions of years and hatch straight away is anyone’s guess. It looks like one of those sweet machines where you put in a few pence and a couple of sweets roll out of the slot at the bottom. But let’s not worry about why they’re here – the fact of the matter is that they are here. Like I said, the pterodactyls are well fed. There’s the science team, which is basically a college field trip, and consists of token nerdy guy, hot token blonde (quite how a seriously hot chick like this is studying with these nerds is beyond me – but hey, at least she gets down into her bra), two other students who don’t get a look in before they’re fodder and the two proper scientists who have a thing for each other.

There’s the commando unit which is headed by former rapper Coolio and has your generic grunt stock characters in there. Finally there’s the terrorist group which consists of a load of Eastern European thugs and their leader who looks like a young Kris Kristofferson. He has to be the most pointless character I’ve seen in a monster flick. You’d think there’d be a moment where he either a) turns good to help out the survivors by sacrificing his life or b) resorts to cheap tactics to escape and meets his demise en route. His eventual offing is more akin to moment b) however he’s not even close to doing anything worthwhile before getting killed. The acting is below par for the most but at least some of it was enough to get by on. It’s pretty sad to say Coolio gave the film’s best performance.

Director Mark Lester certainly knows how to make a film entertaining. After all, he was responsible for giving us one of the single greatest Schwarzenegger vehicles in Commando. You certainly can’t fault him for his direction here. It’s the writing that lets him down. He manages to keep the film moving at a brisk pace and there are obviously plenty of characters so that whenever there’s a bit of a lull, you know the pterodactyls are only a few swoops away to liven things up again.

The final shot of the film smacks of desperation for a sequel and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it go ahead. After all, we’ve had the likes of Crocodile, Shark Attack, Octopus and Spiders get a second bite at the proverbial cherry with sequels so why not Pterodactyl. The question shouldn’t be why not, it should be why?

 

Pterodactyl is watchable at best, pretty ho-hum at worst. If you like this sort of thing, you’ll probably get enough kicks out of this to make it worth your while. There’s enough pterodactyl action and a surprising amount of gore to keep fans happy. It’s probably about as good as a film about pterodactyls could actually get.

 

 ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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