onsdag 18 januari 2012

Phase IV (1974)

Intelligents ants on the warpath? No, this isnt Bert I Gordon, this is Saul Bass superior scifimovie (his only full length movie). Bass was more known as designer for movietitles such as Psycho, Spartacus, Alien, Big and Cape Fear. Why he only directed one movie is unknown to me, he was a man with a great eye for design and judging on the basis of Phase IV he could have given us a lot of interesting movies.

During some sort of cosmic event an english scientist discover that ants all over the world have started to form some sort of collective intelligence, even between different species. He builds a laboratory in the middle of the Arizona desert and has the local population evacuated since the ants have exterminated their natural rivals and now begun to kill cattle. It doesnt take long before the scientists are under siege from the strangely intelligent ants.

Evil antmovies arent exactly numerous out there and succesful attempts can be easily counted, the only two being THEM! and this one (Yes, I know that Empire of the ants is entertaining as hell but it cant really be called good). Saul Bass has taken a concept that could be a sinking ship from the start and turned into an exciting and well made movie, thanks to an intelligent script and imaginative design. What impressed me the most is the microphotography where you get to watch the ants move around in their strangely geometricaly perfect world (the first sign that something is amiss). The scenes where you see the ants gather their dead in long lines are actually quite chilling. It might sound a bit odd but Ken Middlehams superior photography truly makes something extraordinary with it. The only real weakness with the movie is the somewhat weak characters which makes Bass direction give you quite a bit of sympathy for the ants as they go about their business.

The great cinematography and the setdesign (in particular the weird monoliths that the ants build outside the laboratory) is another strength of Phase IV, which brings the movie straight into the halls of fame of intelligent science fiction. The actors may not win any awards, especially since the characters arent that well developed but they do a servicable job. All of this moves forward to a spectacular ending which may raise more questions than it answers but it sure as hell looks awesome. So, Phase IV is well recommended to any fan of scifi and takes its subject seriously which is a big positive in my book.

Footnote: That poster. Wow. I would imagine quite a few people being dissapointed with the movie after seeing it.

And I would like to end this review with the conclusion that Mystery Science Theatre 3000 is a stupid concept since this is one of the movies they make fun of. Come on, I can accept Manos hands of fate, but this? You got to be fucking kidding me.

1 kommentar:

  1. Well...according to IMDB the studio cut the film against Bass wishes....meaning the film is not a directors cut....I wonder what the uncut version looks like...