CBS Premiere: Locusts Review

Finally, a direct-to-TV creature feature that got it right and it's not on the Sci-Fi Channel. The premiere of "Locusts" was way beyond the junk CBS produced a few weeks back with "Spring Break Shark Attack." That's not saying this is quality filmmaking, just a cheap, quick blast of fun for those interested in the genre. Cult TV fans get Lucy Lawless in the starring role, which is probably the big selling point.

Lawless is thrown in as Dr. Maddy Reardon, part of the Department of Agriculture. She discovers one of her facilities has been breeding bio-engineered locusts without permission. During their ordered destruction (as you can predict), a few escape and begin breeding relentlessly.

It's a frightening scenario, even if a lot of it seems to make no sense whatsoever. The CG used to create the swarms is a bit above average, and during their many attacks, it actually becomes quite eerie. In a nice touch, a few of them even splatter 'against' the camera, adding to the mayhem. The body count is meager (they just seem to deliver small bites for the most part) until half way through when the writers ran out of ideas and made them carnivorous. They wreak plenty of other havoc, taking down an entire airliner in what has to be the films money shot (though it's a direct rip-off of the obscure Japanese film "War of the Insects").

That's really the saving grace of "Locusts," as the title creatures get plenty of screen time. The film easily avoids this common trap. The humans are the downside as usual, each one offering up performances that wouldn't be acceptable back in 1930. Lawless is fine, it's every single supporting actor playing along with her that deliver ridiculous dialogue, cheap one-liners, and seem to drop in and out of the film where convenient.

Logic is at a premium too. It's unexplained what exactly happened when the locusts first escape. Obviously, someone tried to get them out of the lab, but for what reason or for who is entirely unknown. The finale leaves a bad taste in your mouth. The solution to rid the world from a group of voracious insects is fair and mildly logical. What's not is how they figure the remaining few have magically become sterile. That's not just movie logic, that's writers block. There are also some ill-placed moments of humor that seem entirely out of place in what is, otherwise, a movie played straight.

Clichés are cringe-worthy, adding up much quicker than the disappointing body count. Maddy of course works too much, her husband it tired of it, and she becomes pregnant. The government types want to kill Americans in order to fight off the swarm. The 'evil' creator of this new breed of course makes a heroic turn, sacrificing his life in the process. It's all a bit much after a while.

Still, there's enough here to make a recommendation if you're a fan of brain dead entertainment. Sure, it's all lowbrow and cheesy. So what? "Locusts" is fun and one of the better insects-eat-the-world movies in a long time. It slaughters some of the tripe from the Sci-Fi Channel like "Deadly Swarm." Maybe CBS is on to something after all.

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