Sci-Fi Channel Original Review: Manticore

Manticore begins with false hope. Set during the current war in Iraq, the film opens with a great firefight between US troops and enemy insurgents. The direction, style, and action starts things off with a better than usual style. It seems like the budget has been raised a little higher, and things just may end up entertaining.

Of course, all that anticipation leads to disappointment. The film still has a nice look to it aside from an obviously foam cave set. The locales work well to aid the film, but the creature is a huge disgrace. It's bad enough that the effects are blatantly obvious as usual. It's worse when the animation is recycled multiple times and sloppily inserted to save on the need for new shots.

The legend of the creature places it in Persia, and there's little here to indicate that. It is resurrected, rips a few people in half, and is finally and completely illogically taken down by a video camera (yes, really). There's a two-minute scene that discusses what the monster actually is, and then it's right back to the action. That's something Manticore has plenty of.

There seems to always be a gun firing or helpless civilian screaming and this would have led to a great movie is there was any attempt to make the effects look even slightly realistic. It's a case of "see if for yourself" because there's no other way to describe it. There is not a single shot of the creature that's anything other than CG. It's always funny to watch soldiers continue to pound a monster with a few thousand rounds even after they know they can't kill it this way. It's even funnier when the effects depict bullets ricocheting as a small spark.

Oddly, without the Manticore, this would have been a decent, albeit cheap, war movie. If the opening battle was any indication, director Tripp Reed has enough skill to mimic similar scenes from Black Hawk Down and make them new. The clich├ęs are here (annoying reporter, commander who makes critical errors, etc.), but the action makes it lively and energetic.

For once though, it's a shame the beast is given so much screen time. The annoyance continues to grow as it keeps popping up in this war flick, especially since you saw the same animation cycle a few minutes prior. If you can catch it video, Manticore is worth fast-forwarding through. To sit all the way through it only means you're missing a far better film.

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