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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

DVD Review: Poseidon Rex

I’ve had a love for monster movies ever since I was a little kid watching Creature Double Feature on Channel 56. Godzilla, Mothra, Daimajin, Gamera, King Kong and The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms – I watched them again and again.  And in more recent years I’ve enjoyed films like Jurassic Park, so I was excited to see Poseidon Rex, a movie about a dinosaur that lives in the ocean and attacks boats. On the DVD cover it says: “Half Dinosaur! Half Sea Monster! All Trouble!” That’s perfect. I'm sold.

But what makes this one even more enticing is that it was directed by Mark L. Lester. He’s known for directing Firestarter and Commando. Those are fine, but the film I love him for is Class Of 1984, a movie that I watched a whole lot when I was a kid, and several more times as an adult. Poseidon Rex has a much lighter tone than some of Lester's earlier films. This is just a fun movie – there’s nothing serious here, and nothing too frightening (so, yeah, it's fine for children).

It opens with three men diving for gold. One of them, Jackson Slate (Brian Krause), is being forced to lead this diving expedition at gunpoint. The men set off some powerful explosives, waking and angering a giant dinosaur, which eats two of the men and the boat.

Meanwhile Rod (Steven Helmkamp) and Jane (Candice Nunes) have arrived on an island for a vacation. Henry (Berne Velasquez) takes them out on his boat to go snorkeling out by the blue hole, a giant sinkhole where Jackson has gone searching for gold. They find Jackson floating in the water and revive him, with the help of Sarah (Anne McDaniels), a marine biologist. No, it doesn’t quite make sense that they would take Jackson to Sarah, but this film has to get all of the main characters together quickly.

There is a criminal organization led by Tariq, and it was that organization that was behind the dive for the gold, and in a flashback we learn that Jackson was involved in an earlier expedition for gold with these gangsters. Well, Jackson asks for help from Sarah, Rodney, Jane and Henry, and promises to cut them in on the gold. Rodney is curious about the blue hole anyway – that’s why he made this trip. Sarah is interested for science’s sake. Henry just wants gold. Sarah is the voice of reason. She says to Rodney: “I don’t want to die on some wild goose chase for some lost treasure. Did you forget the part where some gangsters are trying to kill him?” She tells Rodney to stop acting like he’s in The Goonies, and doesn’t join them on their dive. Rod ends up chickening out anyway, and doesn’t dive.

Well, Jackson, Sarah and Henry find the sunken boat that likely has the gold, as well as giant dinosaur footprints, and quite a few eggs. Of course, the presence of eggs raises a lot of questions. Is there another dinosaur down there? And the moment they were woken by the charges, they started going at it? Or was this dinosaur pregnant for centuries, and when she woke she suddenly lay a bunch of eggs? Who knows? Sarah takes one of the eggs back to her lab, and when she and Jackson carefully open it, the baby dinosaur inside is miraculously alive. The baby gets loose, but comes in handy when the gangsters show up.

There are some other odd yet convenient plot elements, such as an abandoned military post, with guns, a communication system and a working plane. It’s interesting how often characters stumble upon old military bases in these films. And as you might expect, there is some less-than-stellar acting in this film. Anne McDaniels is on the weaker side as Sarah, and just isn’t believable as a marine biologist. And the coast guard guy is not quite as good an actor as McDaniels. And later they completely forget about the baby dinosaur that is still loose somewhere.

But it kind of doesn’t matter. After all, you get shots of a dinosaur chasing boats and cars (yes, it can live on land as well as in the water). The movie moves rather quickly, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. And there are some good surprises. It's fun. Don't expect much else, and you should enjoy it.

Special Features

The DVD includes The Making Of Poseidon Rex, a nine-minute feature with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with cast members Brian Krause, Steven Helmkamp and Anne McDaniels. There are also interviews with director Mark L. Lester and visual effects man Scott Wheeler, who talks about the creature design.

The trailer is also included.

Poseidon Rex was shot on location in Belize, in Central America. It is scheduled to be released on DVD on May 13, 2014 through ITN Distribution.

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