Westlake Entertainment presents
The Eden Formula (2006)
"That thing? That thing is a miracle!"- Rhonda (Dee Wallace-Stone)
Stars: Jeff Fahey
Other Stars: Dee Wallace-Stone, Tony Todd, Alexandra Ford, Don Luce, Stephen Wastell, Paula Ficara, Angie Lieuw, Gregory Gast
Director: John Carl Buechler
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, violence)
Run Time: 01h:22m:33s
Release Date: 2007-03-27
Genre: techno thriller
DVD ReviewI hate to be the one to dump on the talents of John Carl Buechler and his latest flick The Eden Formula, because it seems that the director of a late-night classic bit of campy horror goodness like 1986's Troll deserves a modicum of respect. And I do look back fondly on Troll in my own weird way, ignorantly happy with my gaggle of faded memories of enjoyment that may or may not be wholly accurate. If the world ended tomorrow, Buechler would go out as the director of that film, which in and of itself is something, at least to the legions of low-grade horror aficionados.
The problem is that the bar was set pretty low back in the mid-1980s, so churning out something remotely memorable maybe wasn't quite the chore it is now. CGI technology has now surpassed the need for actual creativity, and it is actually possible to woo audiences with waves of hip visuals even if the story and/or acting is painfully subpar. Imagine bad special effects AND bad acting, and suddenly the wiggle room for tolerance has become dangerously frog-hair thin. Once we've seen the jaw-dropping dinos of Jurassic Park, anything that appears less real will have even the most casual audience member cackling like a mad hyena while looking for the eject button.
The Eden Formula is one of those movies sadly lost in time, the kind of wanton low-budget cheese that were it made twenty years ago it might have raised a ripple or two among B-movie VHS fans, but today it's destined to be quickly buried like a sun-bloated corpse on a hot summer day. Jeff Fahey and Dee Wallace-Stone are two-thirds of the name cast anchors, and really do little more than collect paychecks as harried executives of the mysterious high-tech Calgorin Industries, who have Jurassic Park-ishly cloned (I mean "synthetically reproduced") a T-Rex, using the titular formula. Problems arise when a team of ruthless, multi-ethnic industrial spies (cocky hot Asian female assassin, check!)—led by Tony (Candyman) Todd—launch a late-night siege on Calgorin, and aside from taking Fahey and Wallace-Stone hostage and killing assorted guards, inadvertently release the very hungry T-Rex on an unsuspecting Los Angeles.
A lingering question is for whom, exactly, was this movie made? There's an air of familiarity with material we've seen before so that it's not like there's some kind of originality at play here. Ditto for gratutious skin. Yes, I know that the plot sounds like it could have some sort of really good/bad B-potential—and I was hoping beyond hope for the promise of the cover art to come through—but the inevitable disappointment washed over me in big, ugly waves for all 82 minutes. In between dull macho chatter between Tony Todd and his henchpeople (yes, they wear headsets), the escaped T-Rex munches on assorted hapless folks that we don't know or care about, usually punctuated by a decapitation or perhaps something like a body-bit-in-two death scene. Effects-wise, the dino looks like a mish-mosh of jerky animation (seemingly re-used with different background plates) and what appears to be a big mechanical head for the occasional closeup shot of the monster-chewing-on-something-or-roaring scene.
This is just a bad movie on a lot of levels, the kind that for one wants you to believe that a T-Rex in Los Angeles can wander around silently and literally sneak up on people (woe be it to cocky janitors, late night mechanics and tough guy gang bangers), all the while avoiding being noticed by anyone else. And while that's a big conceptual problem to swallow, the bigger problem is that the T-Rex antics are almost like a subplot, as were left to theoretically care about who lives or dies in the good guys vs. bad guys battle of dullards back at Calgorin, where the volleys of hamfisted acting unrolls like a moldy Persian rug. It all looks okay from very, very far away, but from a normal viewing distance reveals itself as a mass of fungus masquerading as a movie
Rating for Style: D-
Rating for Substance: D-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The Eden Formula has been issued in its original 1.33:1 ratio. Edge details are noticeably soft, with colors that are never overly vivid, but that do manage to retain a level of acceptable consistency throughout. No major print flaws or debris to be found.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: Only one audio choice, and it's an uneventful English-language 2.0 stereo blend. Quite a bit of crackle and distortion during louder passages, though normal blocks of dialogue sound decent enough. Overall presentation is rather flat, without much in the way of any spatial depth to make this sound like anything other than a tepid mix that fails to deliver.
Audio Transfer Grade: C+
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 4 cues
1 Original Trailer(s)
Extras Review: No extras other than a trailer, and I hail that as a good thing. The disc is cut into a mind-boggling four—count 'em four—chapters.
Extras Grade: F
Final CommentsThe cover does look rather promising, though damn if the movie isn't anything more than an awful load of you know what. I was temporarily wooed by the frequent decapitations and a couple of funny gags, but the gaping chasms of inane plot nonsense and stocky stock characters are simply ridiculous.
Rich Rosell 2007-03-26