04th Feb2014

‘Scavengers’ Blu-ray Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: John Lee Ames, Roark Critchlow, Brett Curtze, Sean Patrick Flanery, Jennifer Jalene, Louise Linton, Jeremy London, J.J. Nolan, Tyler Poelle, Russell Richardson, Kaitlin Riley | Written and Directed by Travis Zariwny

Scavengers

Scavengers follows the crew of the Starship Revelator, who survive in the dark depths of space by keeping out of trouble, until they stumble across the mechanics of ultimate destruction and cross paths with a rival ship, and an old enemy, who also has it in their sights, and they will stop at nothing to master a power that could destroy the universe. The fight for the future is on – a battle against oblivion. To the victor goes untold power; to the vanquished, death, devastation and the cold dark emptiness of space…

The first release from the UK arm of Image Entertainment, Scavengers is also the debut feature for writer/director Travis Zariwny – a name you may not immediately recognise but he is someone who has paid dues working as a production designer on films such as Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, Chillerama, Hatchet III and Adam Green’s fan-favourite TV show Holliston. And it’s safe to say that it is this background in production design on a number of low-budget flicks that has stood Zariwny in incredibly good stead – Scavengers looks amazing, with some superb set design and a fantastic blend of CGI and model work – its just a shame that when the CG-heavy scenes come into play the film looks like a lost episode of 90s sci-fi show Space: Above and Beyond.

And that’s the one think you can definitely say about Scavengers – it really does feel like a product of the 1990s. And not necessarily in a good way. You often get movies that have vibes of a different era – but in this case it literally looks like this film has been left on the shelf for a couple of decades and revived for the DVD market. Seriously, Scavengers wouldn’t have look out of place as a possible TV movie-come-pilot for a Syfy channel series back in 1993 but two decades later and it just feels incredibly dated.

Being dated isn’t, sadly, the only thing working against the film. The biggest problem is the script. I get that the script was constrained by the budget but then aren’t all low-budget movies hampered in the same way? Yet plenty of other low-budget sci-fi flicks still manage to create an air of excitement or awe. Scavengers spend most of its time explaining the minutiae of what’s happening, all wrapped in some of the heaviest techo-gargon I’ve heard in a looong time. Oh, that doesn’t apply to Sean Patrick Flanery’s evil space Captain though – no, instead we get some of the campest, most over-the-top, scenery-chewing delivered dialogue in the history of sci-fi movies and his Alabama-accented performance rivals the ridiculous villainy of Flash Gordon‘s Ming the Merciless – and I’m sure this is not a film that was intended to be taken anything other than seriously.

It also doesn’t help that Scavengers is essentially a “chase the macguffin” film, with no real sense of urgency there either! Never has the phrase “all style, no substance” been so apt – a really good-looking movie with a mundane story, bad dialogue and no thrills is not my idea of great night in sadly.

Scavengers is out now on DVD and Blu-ray from Image Entertainment.

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