Studio: Anderson Digital
Director: Mark L. Lester
Writer: Rafael Jordan
Producer: Mark L. Lester, Anthony Fankhauser
Stars: Brian Krause, Anne McDaniels, Candice Nunes, Steven Helmkamp, Gildon Roland, Berne Velasquez
At the bottom of the ocean, a treasure hunter unearths a prehistoric sea creature that threatens to destroy a small island.
Perhaps inevitably or perhaps regrettably, the steady pipeline of SyFy Originals featuring beast names bearing the prefix “mega” or the suffix “saurus” has created a new low standard for measuring acceptable creature feature quality. Statements like these are seen often when reading reviews for such low-budget monster movies: “decent enough for a SyFy flick” or “no worse than any of the two-dozen other giant beast SyFy movies I’ve fallen asleep to.”
Yes, like it or not, the simple truth of the matter is that SyFy creature flicks are what they are, no apologies included. And at least to some degree, if you expect anything more than the disposable entertainment they end up being, the blame for any disappointment incurred doesn’t necessarily lie at the filmmakers’ feet.
If SyFy and their frequent partners The Asylum (who are not the producers of this film) have taught us anything about post-2010 made-for-television monster movies, it is that high expectations may as well have “no admittance” crime scene tape blocking all entrances. Something with the caliber of a Gareth Edwards “Godzilla” epic is just not in the cards, now or ever. Probably not the caliber of Toho’s 1954 original, either. Keeping all of that in mind, the quickest way to summarize “Poseidon Rex” is to say that it is decent enough for a SyFy flick and no worse than any of the two-dozen other giant beast SyFy movies I’ve fallen asleep to.
As per usual, the plot makes only as much sense as it has to in order to kickstart the kaiju mayhem. Brian Krause is some sort of treasure hunter in league with gun-toting, coke-sniffing, stilted dialogue-reading Central American gangsters. To pay off his debt, the snorkeling Indiana Jones takes a team and some dynamite to the ocean floor to recover Mayan gold from a sunken ship, and ends up unearthing a prehistoric sea creature.
A vacationing couple and a boat captain find Krause’s injured body and take him back to the mainland where a blonde beauty scientist patches him up, because why not? Krause vaguely explains what happened, piquing the scientist’s interest in the creature and the couple’s interest in the gold, and everyone immediately trusts everything he has to say as they head back to the scene of the crime for a closer look.
I could write another paragraph summarizing the confrontation with the crime lords, the inevitable Army involvement, and of course Poseidon Rex’s climactic mainland rampage. But then, anyone who has seen just one of these movies before has already filled in those blanks.
“Poseidon Rex” is the kind of conventional romp featuring unnecessary dialogue like, “there he is” to point out a body in full view of everyone. Or uninteresting lines like, “oh my God” as an exclamation on sight of a severed limb bagged in plastic. To hit the clichéd writing trifecta, the script also includes predictable words like those of the veteran coast guard officer who offers, “in all my years working these parts, I have never seen anything like this.” His delivery even comes with Shatner-esque pauses that presumably stem from an English as a second language disconnect as opposed to an intentionally directed cadence.
Stan Winston would roll over in his grave if he could see how far behind budget creature technology still is, even 20 years removed from “Jurassic Park.” Poseidon Rex is a cool enough design, even if it is just a tyrannosaurus with a spine of fins, though its behavior doesn’t provide much personality. It might be loosely inferred that it is a mother protecting its eggs, but otherwise Rex is a mostly purposeless monster literally chewing up scenery for action’s sake.
Everyone still desperate to duplicate the runaway success of “Sharknado” misses the fact that what made that movie a hit was the lunacy of its concept. A tornado made of sharks is so delightfully absurd that audiences willingly sign a contract relinquishing all rights to disbelief before the movie begins. Earning that kind of good-natured forgiveness just isn’t going to happen when the big bad is simply a dinosaur mated with a sea creature.
Director Mark L. Lester doesn’t exhibit a tight enough grip on the intended tone. Some of the performers know what they are involved in. Others take things too seriously without having the acting chops to back up their sincerity. There is a lot of “Star Trek” style shaking whenever a boat is attacked and plenty of over-animated pantomime by actors working with empty space later populated by a computer-generated dinosaur. Sometimes it is humorous. Sometimes it is laughable for different reasons. Either way, “Poseidon Rex” could have benefitted from a better balance for unifying everyone involved.
In the end, it is what it is, and everything I thought it would be. While hardly a ringing endorsement, that blasé assessment is not an outright pan either. A pair of surprise attacks provide two fun moments, the underwater photography is sharp, and hey, who can really fault anyone for wanting to churn out a “good enough” SyFy monster movie while sunning and surfing in Belize during their off hours?
Review Score: 50