Wyvern – Curse of the CGI Monster
With my computer being sick, I naturally spend more time with my friend Mr. DVD player. This sometimes leads to rather strange choices of movies, in this case the 2009 TV production Wyvern.
In a tiny town in Alaska, the dragon-like Wyvern escapes its icy prison and starts to hunt humans and eat them. While a sign suggests at the very beginning, Beaver Mills has 307 citizens, we only meet a small group of them (suggested to be the only survivors, and going with that, the Wyvern was really really hungry).
Our main characters, besides an early mutilated Dr. Yates, are the owner of the town’s only bar – Claire; the currently between jobs trucker Jake, the town’s idiot (?) Farley, the crazy old lady Edna, the old trapper/hillbilly Haas, the local radio DJ Hampton and the retired military man Col. Sherman. Cut off from the rest of the world, they try to call help and survive the attacks of the wyvern; later decide to kill it.
Its a pretty nice scenario, and besides a rather boring interlude about Jake’s past, the story is also well told. However, I have a couple of problems with the movie.
First of all, I’m really not a fan of CGI monsters. The wyvern is well done, no doubt, but its still a CGI monster. Only few scenes make it look really alive. Probably a matter of taste here, after all I knew they wouldn’t dress up a vulture or something.
Secondly, Jake is a problem. He is oh so heroic, its not funny anymore. As soon as anyone else wants to take action, no matter how small the task, Jake comes around: “No, sorry, its something I have to do.” He never explains why really no-one else is able to do anything. The retired colonel obviously never stopped to live an army life, and is the first to show up with a rifle – can he use it? Probably, but Jake can do better. The radio DJ already proved she’s good with guns, and she would also be the logical choice to get the antenna, seeing she knows about all the tech stuff required to make the radio work again. Does she climb the roof? No. Jake does, with the incredible reason: “Its no male-female thing, but I gotta do this.” And, like all estrogen brigade bait, he has a dark past full of guilt, though no reason to feel guilty. In a scene pulling like bubblegum, he tells the lost-in-admiration Claire how guilty he feels for the car crash death of his brother. If that back story was supposed to explain his oh so heroism, it clearly went wrong.
Then, I have a big logic issue with a certain scene. Haas and Farley are outside the shelter of the bar, when everyone gathers supplies. They are about to carry some stuff back to the shelter when the wyvern shows up and Farley gets injured on his stomach. The wound can’t be all that bad – its not bleeding much (and surprisingly the movie isn’t shy about some close ups of torn off limbs). After being rescued by – you guessed it, Jake – he gets treated by Hampton and Edna. Outisde, the wyvern places the badly injured Dr. Yates (arm off – close up), and – as the survivors correctly assume – uses him as bait to lure them out of the house. Hero Jake runs out to get the doctor, and for no reason, Farley – suddenly pretty fit again – runs out of the house, screams and waves and clearly sacrifices himself. Bam, dead. Now, why? Why would someone with a so-so bad injury simply run into the fangs of a wyvern? Because he’s already doomed to die anyways? Nope, that’s the doctor who dies shortly after his rescue. In short – I simply don’t get why that character should do that. He showed no signs of sudden heroism or total stupidity.
Another issue with this scene: The wyvern just showed intelligence. It used an advanced strategy – placing bait – to get at its food. Every biologist would jump in the air to see an animal develop this ability. Here, it goes by unseen. No-one even thinks about it, or says a single word.
The claim that the wyvern is a creature from norse mythology, and a monster banned from Asgard by Odin… Okaaaay. Not really. Not even close. The monster that bit a god was a wolf; Fenris that bit off Tyr’s hand. No sign of a huge flying dragon.
I assume this was a mix up with a lindworm, a large snake-like dragon from norse mythology, but unlike a wyvern unable to fly. Wyverns, just for the smartasses to assimilate more information, are more located in british and french mythology.
If you can live with these issues, you get a mostly entertaining and not overly gory movie.
Famous last words: I so need a new computer!