Genius Products presents
Eye Of The Beast (2006)
"I'm not here to help. I'm here to do unbiased research."- Dan Leland (James Van Der Beek)
Stars: James Van Der Beek, Alexandra Castillo
Other Stars: Ryan Black, Arne MacPherson, Erik Fjeldsted, Kyra Harper, Stephen Eric McIntyre, Adrianna O'Neil, Brian Roach, Larissa Tobacco, Kelly Wolfman, Daina Leitold, Alicia Johnston, Tom Anniko, Brooke Palsson, Rick Skene, Blake Taylor, Ryland Thiessen, Sharon Bajer
Director: Gary Yates
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (giant tentacle violence)
Run Time: 01h:30m:05s
Release Date: 2008-04-01
DVD ReviewIn the immortal words of The Smiths, stop me if you think you've heard this one before. A tiny fishing community is terrorized by an oversized sea creature who munches on locals, until a mismatched team consisting of a sheriff, a scientist, and a fisherman finally join forces to hunt it down. Poor Peter Benchley must be rolling over in his grave, because the low-budget Eye Of The Beast sloppily adopts the Jaws framework with a made-for-cable coat of paint, only here substituting a giant squid for a great white.
As another entry in Genius Products' generally lackluster Maneater series, this one is about as derivative as it gets. It's almost as if writer Mark Mullin took the Jaws script and did a global replace on the word "shark" with "squid", and then changed the gender of a couple of characters in hopes no one would notice the similarities. Then by adding some forced tension between bearded locals and Native Americans, we're magically supposed to completely forget that this is nothing but a dingy copy of a veritable classic.
Sure, it's made-for-cable on what was certainly a cheap-o budget, so the physical limitations that director Gary Yates was operating under aren't all necessarily his fault. He just goes through the motions. The visual effects are not the greatest, and the film's big money shot is silly on so many levels that the quality of the creature is almost secondary. Yates is left with little to occupy our time, save for flopping tentacles that reach out of the water to grab at doomed characters while they scream a lot. That's at least in between the investigative research of scientist Dan Leland (James Van Der Beek), who is sent to Fells Island to find out why the fish population has dwindled (hint: calamari). As he does his science stuff, Leland dabbles in a love-hate relationship with a cute sheriff (Alexandra Castillo), whose own past is connected to the jumbo squid.
I could happily go the rest of my life and never see another spin of the Jaws mythos, but I think that's wishful thinking on my part. These sort of by-the-numbers exercises are simply resume builders for guys like Yates, and hopefully somewhere down the road he'll actually get to take on a project with a sliver of originality. And actors like Van Der Beek are just here for the paycheck; it's not that he's unlikable, but he's just rather bland as the supposed "know what to do" lead character. I actually found myself more enamored of the family issues of Castillo's Sheriff Kat Tomas—still living at home with her matchmaker mom—than for any part of el squid grande.
Rating for Style: D
Rating for Substance: D-
|Aspect Ratio||1.78:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Eye Of The Beast has been issued in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and the transfer comes up a little short. No major blemishes or debris, but colors levels vary greatly, with much of the print looking slightly washed out and dull. The night sequences carry black levels that are far from rock solid, especially during the climactic battle, when details tend to get lost in shadows.
Image Transfer Grade: C
Audio Transfer Review: No major complaints on the limited range of the 2.0 stereo audio mix. While hardly a showcase, it's simple and serviceable, offering up generally clear voice quality but not much in the way of environmental immersion.
Very plain, but workable.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Maneater series
Packaging: Amaray with slipcase
Extras Review: The only extra is a single preview for the entire Maneater series, consisting of such creatures-gone-amuck films as Grizzly Rage, In The Spider's Web, Blood Monkey, and Croc. The disc is cut into 8 chapters, with no subtitle options.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsYet another uninspired Jaws variant, this time a made-for-cable version featuring a big squid and James Van Der Beek. Predictable from the get go, Eye Of The Beast brings nothing new to the genre table, and unless you're a fan of rubbery tentacles occasionally attacking shrieking actors, this will offer very little to you.
If I were lying on the couch with a hangover and I stumbled across this on cable, I might stick with it out of sheer laziness. But I can't imagine anyone actively seeking this out on DVD.
Rich Rosell 2008-05-29