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There's something I'd like to address to any filmmakers, real or imagined, reading out there. Let's say you're making a film that, in some way, involves technology and/or science. You've got many places to shoot, and you need some way of establishing a location. In normal films, this is done by simply placing the name of the location below the establishing shot.
However, if you're making a techno-thriller of some sort, you want to let people know it's a techno-thriller. So what do you do? You put the name of the location in a techy font with lots of right angles and scroll it across the screen in green lettering slowly with a cursor while dubbing in a "beep-beep-beep" noise. Right?
Wrong. Because this is just plain stupid and needs to stop now.
I don't know when this technique was first applied, but I'm assuming it was in some late-70's, early-80's techno-thriller like The China Syndrome or WarGames. Back then, it made sense, as computers where a relatively new technology and tended to register things a little slowly and in blockier fonts.
Now, I don't know if any of you out there have used a computer lately, but they're a lot most user-friendly now. Even the worst dial-up connection doesn't seem to be moving like a 300 baud modem, and few interfaces address you with a stilted "GREETINGS, PROFESSOR FALCON." So wouldn't it serve to reason that, if you were wanting to emphasize that your film is about the technology of today if not the near-future, you wouldn't want to have establishing shots with text that a Vic-20 would laugh at?
Seems logical to me, but then, filmmakers are idiots.
Locusts uses effects like these to establish where the next scene is taking place, and it uses them a lot. Now, there's a fair share of locations in Locusts, as said title plaguemongers exist in two swarms ransacking from both sides of the United States, so a little bit of establishing the location is necessary. But Locusts uses these bits even after we've seen the establishing shots a few times, thus treating us like total idiots. Yes, filmmakers of Locusts, we get it. The farm that you're cutting to is where B.J. Hunnicut lives. Got it. Thanks. "Beep-beep-beep."
It's not actually B.J. Hunnicut, mind you. I'ts actor Mike Farrell, playing the father of our lead character, an entymologist played by Lucy Lawless. I don't remember her character's name, and I'm sure I could look it up, but I'll just call her Xena. Not because I hate her and want her forever identified with one role (I don't), but because she was in Boogeyman and deserves some retribution for that.
Xena is having problems with her boyfriend, who's jealous of her work and considers moving out. Meanwhile, puffy bug scientist John Heard has created a species of locust that can't be wiped out, and when Xena tries to have them destroyed, some get out. Heard, of course, was just doing his job, as he was part of a SECRET GOVERNMENT OPERATION blah blah beep beep beep.
Locusts carries on from there pretty much like The Swarm, though it's not as enjoyably awful. Part of the problem is that Locusts doesn't have the sheer amount of characters chewing scenery and getting attacked by bugs, so instead we're stuck with sub-plots with Heard being depressed, Xena and her boyfriend arguing over the phone and an office romance in which the suffix "...and a bag of chips" is uttered to describe a hot co-worker, making you think that the "beep-beep-beep" establish shots didn't look so dated after all.
There's also the usual government sub-plot, as the Department of Homeland Security, finally serving a purpose, attempts to blow up small towns in order to save us from ourselves, and the whole thing ends with a giant bug zapper being built out of a house. It's stupid stuff, sure, but there are plenty of decent locust attacks amidst all the dialogue-driven stupidity, though most of these are too CGI-ridden to be any more convincing than an actor valiantly waving his arms around as little black dots appear on the screen around him.
I guess there's some fun to be had here, but it's not really enough to be entertainingly bad, and it's certainly not well-made enough to be good. The big problem is that it really lacks charm, and not even the superior powers of Xena can make it enjoyable as "camp."
This isn't in the RT database (yet), but I'd probably give it a "4," minus one for the "beep-beep-beep" bits, which from now on will immediately cost a point, unless it's a technothriller about Texas Instruments 99/4A users trying to kidnap Nolan Bushnell.
(One of the IMDb reviews of this claims that this film "has set the motion picture industry back at least a decade," which seems a little extreme. I mean, doesn't this guy, "ptobin55,"* have the Sci-fi channel? If everything comparable to this sent the industry back ten years, we wouldn't even have the printing press, much less film.)
* -- This seems like a psudonym of some sort.