Sunday, February 21, 2010
Empire of the Ants
As you might recall from my review of Night of the Lepus, we're big fans of the mutant animal/bug movie down here on the Firefly Ranch. So naturally I thought Empire of the Ants would be a perfect way to unwind on a Saturday morning.
Instead, it ended up being a perfect way to spend an hour and a half with a confused look on my face.
Not that it's complex (which is fine by Mama - I don't heart giant insect/animal on the loose movies for their detailed plots) - it's just, well, perplexing.
I went from thinking I had a standard cheeseball man vs giant bug fest on my hands, to realizing that I had a BAD (even for my low standards) cheeseball/man/bug movie, to the last 20 mins when the movie completely and unexpectedly changes direction. (Foreshadowing? Plot development? Oh, no, no, no. Those might cost MONEY, people.)
Our movie starts out as these often do - with a little lesson on nature and how the animal/bug/plant functions normally in the wild. Ants, we're told, are the Sweet Sweetback Bad Asses of the insect kingdom. They harvest crops, build roads, tunnels, and bridges; and herd aphids. That's right, I said HERD APHIDS. They also are ruled by pheromones, which we learn, produce an obligatory response. Lest we miss that about-to-become-important piece of information, the voice over dude says: Did you hear that? OBLIGATORY!!!!! And then he's nice enough to define the term as meaning, 'CANNOT BE DISOBEYED!!!!' Here concludes the vocab lesson for the day.
But hey, says our narrator, that's all in nature 'n stuff. GOOD thing we don't have to worry about what ants do!
I have to admit I was heartened when the movie started with a slightly bitchy Joan Collins working the 70s giant headband-scarf action w/matching blouse:
She's a real estate agent taking a bunch of idiots to check out some new up and coming property. No seriously, they're DUMB ASSES. As will become apparent soon.
The name of the place is Dreamland Shores - and it's pretty isolated except for some town that's pretty far away (as our worker men let us know during their conversation). Sounds like a nice place, right?
Joan gets out the plastic tram and takes the group on a tour of Dreamland Shores:
The island has all kinds of neat places where you can visit the future:
Spider Fights done in the tradition of so many movies of its kind - build something that kind of resembles the head of the bug/animal, have your actor wrestle with it, move the camera so fast we can't tell what's going on, and throw some blood on them at the end.
Also we get this view ALOT. And believe me, it's just as NOT interesting every other time as it is in this shot. (Also, this lady proves to be DUMB ASS #1, as she runs in the OPPOSITE direction of her group and deep into the forest when her husband bites it - thereby demonstrating my theory that to be killed by a giant ant really does take some effort on your part)
These two head out in their high-waisted pants to look for the missing couple:
Just chillaxin', watching the ants get ready to jump on my boat that happens to be smaller than the pier it's docked at:
So then this fool decides to blow up his boat instead of trying to fight the ONE ant on it, thereby eliminating their only way off the island:
I'm tired of these motherf**king ants on this motherf**king boat!!
Let me continue to illustrate how the film shows us that, if you want a giant mutant ant to eat you, you're gonna have to stop with the running and the fighting already.
Ways to make a giant ant eat you:
Sitting and waiting while making zero effort to get up and run:
Similarly, while watching your loved one being eaten by giant ants, do not make a move to help WHATSOEVER.
Continue to look shocked, presumably, at what a HUGE DUMB ASS you are.
This method works so well that this goof decided to give it a go:
And Joan completely filled her end of the bargain by doing absolutely NOT A DAMN THING.
Or, you can play like Grandpa and Grandma did, which was purposely run in the opposite direction of their group, find a shack with THREE WHOLE WALLS, and just wait for the ants to find you.
Ant fight time, and thankfully the idiot who blew up the first boat doesn't just turn around on and light this one on fire, too.
Also notice the guy on the left is using his oar to hit at ABSOLUTELY NOTHING and swings at the air over and over while the other dude swats at some ants. Maybe at some point the filmmakers thought they might actually add some ants on that side of the scene, but then realized they didn't have a clue how to do that.
Then after about 30 seconds of swinging, while never hitting one ant not once, and with the ants still waving around and making scary ant noises, they just sit down, start rowing and leave.
Miss Blonde Mom Jeans has an epiphany: "They're herding us like CATTLE!"
Um, yeah. Like RETARDED, INBRED cattle, maybe.
Then our lucky group stumbles upon Ma and Pa Kettle living in a shack surrounded by barb wire. A barbed wire shack in the middle of nowhere that happens to have a PHONE, no less. A phone to call the sheriff on.
But just when our survivors think they're safe, they sense that the town doesn't actually want them to leave, they steal a car to get away. A car. To get off an island. How is it that ANY of them managed to get away from the ants?
But it turns out that this town REALLY doesn't want them to leave:
Just good ol' boys, never meaning no harm.....
Then we find that the town is rounding up the people and putting them in carts:
While the town whistle blows and the ants make a nice, neat line:
And because it MAKES ALL THE SENSE IN THE WORLD, we find out that the ants are ruling the town, and making everyone make sugar for them.
Oh yeah, and the queen ant needs to give you a weekly spray of her pheromone so you'll stay in line and behave 'n stuff.
Joan Collins takes a moment to drink the kool-aid:
Then the dude who loves to blow shit up decides to work his magic:
And, as usual, start with giant radioactive bugs, end with an explosion:
My sentiments too, lady. THANK GOD it's over.