Screamers (Christian Duguay)

Rating: **1/2 (out of ****)

Duguay's first theatrical release (he had previously directed TV-movies and a couple of straight-to-video sequels to Scanners) is a fun little genre picture that's ultimately a bit too derivative and much too poorly written to be truly effective. Borrowing elements from about a dozen classic science fiction films (though some of these films may well have borrowed elements from the Philip K. Dick story from which Screamers was adapted), it offers few surprises...though if you've managed to avoid learning the basic premise, there's at least one scene that'll likely catch you off guard, especially if you've seen Aliens. There's also one surreal, knockout sequence that'll stay with you for the rest of your life; in ten years, it'll be the only reason anyone remembers this movie. In between, there's scads of terrible dialogue (watching Peter Weller struggle with it provides further entertainment), cheesy special effects, and bizarre anachronisms (it's a century in the future, and they're still listening to Discmans?). It isn't anamorphic; I recommend waiting for the video release if you have any interest.