Wyvern (2009

The entire description blurb for this is “They Find a Live Wyvern in small-town Alaska.” It doesn’t explain who “they” are, the l is needlessly capitalised, and my expectations were set accordingly. Then, in the first two minutes, we get a caption telling us the icy landscape is Alaska, and then a CGI wyvern turns up. I can’t think of better expectation management in a creature feature.

…do they need some privacy?

The wyvern in question is a surprisingly well-produced CGI giant lizard with big, flappy wings. It looks mean, it looks dangerous, and it flies around eating things with a pleasing amount of gore (CGI and practical) thrown around. It’s good enough that from the off it’s frequently shown off in full frame for extended shots, and only occasionally will you be going “that looks a bit shit”. Other than it being a physiological impossibility you could really believe such a thing would wreck up someone’s day.

“My name if Generica and I’m going to be well acted despiste that”

The someone, or “They”, are the residents of a generic rural town in Alaska. It’s probably got a name that’s mentioned every couple of minutes but I can’t remember the name of the lead character at this point so who cares. The important thing is that there are plenty of humans to be eaten (starting with a local fisherman, which foreshadows some of the peculiarity of the film) and they’re well-acted enough that we get to think of them as people beforehand.

“Get In My Belly!”

The film takes the wise choice of not toying with the audience about what’s going on, as it knows exactly what we have tuned in to see. It also doesn’t muck around too much with the characters going “I wonder what is dropping half-eaten livestock from 500 feet in the air” before assuming something is up. But there are sufficient examples of all the explosions, gunshots, and deathly screaming being assumed to be light-hearted hijinks and they don’t have a night for several weeks in the summertime so it’s quite possible they are just all used to living on a Hellmouth

“I should have stayed in Twin Peaks!

Once enough people have been introduced the killing starts, and it’s good wholesome entertainment for the morally perturbed. The Wyvern is rapidly and sufficiently explained as being from Norse Myth, and from there as everything is shot in broad daylight it’s handled as a perfectly ordinary flying-bear-shar-thing. People get taken out one by one, then as a group, survivors hole up, they have a chat, there is a bit of a twist, a bit more attack, showdown: you know the drill. Injuries are mostly slashes with lots of blood, but there is a very nice limb loss with visible bones that gets a lot of justified, and skin-crawl-inducing, screen time.

“….and this hat tip goes out to John Carpenter for The Fog”

It’s all very straightforward, but the background to it is insanely socially aware. The ills of capitalism, the flaws of the US medical system, the impending dangers of climate change, and the ineffectiveness of governments to respond to crises are all key elements to the story. It’s not overplayed, but it’s unrelenting and presented as “just a thing” in a way that only someone who really doesn’t want the world to be like that would. You could probably watch it and not notice this, but if you do then it kicks it up a satisfying notch.

“Did I leave the gas on?”

On a fundamental level, there is nothing bad to say about this film. It’s unashamedly a medium-budget, easy-viewing creature feature, but people have decided to make it the best version of that that they could. It is an enjoyable to watch Treasure, with dynamic and interesting characters and situations operating inside clear guidelines. It’s smart, unpretentious, simple fun and if you like the sound of it then it’s worth your time.

The Raggedyman

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