While its script comes off as an experiment in plot-splicing, this is an admittedly snappy, occasionally exciting monster movie. The film premiered on cable, and was released on home video shortly thereafter.
In Sarawak, Northern Borneo, Ash Mattley (Mark Dacascos) has been working as a physician since his attempts to prove a local beetle holds the key to conquering disease were ridiculed by the scientific community. He is approached by Dr. Carl Wessinger (Jurgen Prochnow), who tells Ash that he can
make his theories a reality, but when Ash retrieves a beetle for him, Wessinger shoots him before apparently dying in a cave-in. Two years later, CIA agent Claire Sommers (Robin McKee) visits Ash, explaining that Wessinger was working on a project for the agency and is still very much alive.
Wessinger has, in fact, used the bug's secretion to revive an alien skeleton deep in the jungle; now the creature--an apparently invincible beast which Wessinger planned to sell off as a biological weapon--is loose and slaughtering the locals.
Ash and Claire, along with native boy Matzu (Thomas Taus Jr.), find Wessinger's compound decimated, and are attacked by the monster. Wessinger and his surviving men arrive and leave Ash and Claire out as bait; the two manage to escape, overpower the goons and blow up the compound and Wessinger. In
the jungle, the chameleonlike creature kills Matzu, and the local tribesmen present Ash with an axe coated with a compound made from the beetle. When the monster attacks again, Ash fails to kill it with the axe and resorts to a handheld rocket launcher to blow it away.
While the story's scientific aspects aren't given as much emphasis as the title suggests, DNA has been quite well made within its derivative framework. Special effects creator-turned-director William Mesa gives the the movie a smart pace and, unsurprisingly, the effects work is quite good. This
low-cost production actually boasts a more convincing computer-generated monster than the higher-budgeted likes of SPECIES (1995) and THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU (1996), which also featured Dacascos; also notable are a number of startling moments during the action scenes, particularly the fiery
explosion of the scientific compound that also vaporizes Wessinger. For a while, in fact, the monster material is subordinate to the more traditional mayhem before finally coming to the forefront in the final act.
Nick Davis's script may offer nothing new, but it keeps the story twists coming fast enough to prevent the plot from bogging down. The characters are conventional, and performed with mixed degrees of success; Dacascos is an appealing hero, while Prochnow overdoes his villain and McKee is OK as the
generically written heroine. The creature, meanwhile, has an elongated head like the Alien and morphs in and out of the foliage like the Predator; yet despite its familiarity, it manages to make a fairly scary impression, thanks to the professionalism with which it has been brought to life.
(Graphic violence, extreme profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1997
- Rating: R
- Review: While its script comes off as an experiment in plot-splicing, this is an admittedly snappy, occasionally exciting monster movie. The film premiered on cable, and was released on home video shortly thereafter. In Sarawak, Northern Borneo, Ash Mattley (Mark… (more)
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