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Hive, The

Genius Products // Unrated // August 5, 2008
List Price: $14.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Adam Tyner | posted August 24, 2008 | E-mail the Author
"Ladies and gentlemen, err...we've just lost the picture, but, uh, what we've seen speaks for itself. The Corvair spacecraft has been taken over -- conquered, if you will -- by a master race of giant space ants. It's difficult to tell from this vantage point whether they will consume the captive Earthmen or merely enslave them. One thing is for certain: there is no stopping them -- the ants will soon be here -- and I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords. I'd like to remind them that as a trusted TV personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves."
-- not actually a quote from the movie

I'll admit it: I fished a copy of The Hive out of DVD Talk's stack-o'-things-to-review because I thought it was gonna be a killer bee flick. Turns out that ants live in hives too, I guess, and the six-legged critters on this Southern Asian mudball of an island can do a helluva lot more damage than a wave of bees ever could. Remember that shot in Jaws 4 where the camera pans down from the plane Missus Brody is in to a shark fin poking out of the water? Y'know, that not only has the momma shark clued in that her arch-nemesis is in the big aluminum thing 20,000 feet up, but that the shark can swim a few hundred miles an hour and keep up? That's how fast the ants in The Hive are. One of the movie's big revelations is that these ants know physics, chemistry, geometry, and can even make electrically sparking supercomputers out of themselves. These millions of bugs can clump themselves together into giant ant-acondas, zip around the sky, and crush oodles of of wooden crates. They play Pictionary. They can set traps ("it's raining ants; hallelujah!"). They can even hold a little kid hostage. Not only can these little bastards devour a person to the bone in four seconds flat, but they'll gobble up all your livestock and leave the bones on a playground for who-the-hell-knows what reason. Look, what chance can we possibly have if an ant can crawl into Luke Duke's noggin and make Tom Wopat twitch and wink uncontrollably for an hour straight?

I know! I know what you're thinking 'cause I'm there too: all hope is lost. We either succumb to our new ant overlords or face extinction ourselves. Oh, but there is a glimmer of hope. Thorax Industries has carved out a multimillion dollar niche for itself by sending out a small army of bughunters to wipe out plagues of ants. No, these aren't glorified Orkin men: these warriors are lugging around proton packs that can liquefy ants' endoskeletons, and I'm pretty sure they're even rockin' a force field at one point. (I guess wiping out ants in third world countries scores you a pretty big R&D budget.) Even with all the hardware they're packing, Thorax is hopelessly outmanned and outgunned, and the company's eight years of warfare against ants may be to blame. Still, these hypergenius ants are clearly capable of learning, and maybe they have something to teach us as well. We can live together in harmony, hand in hand-in-hand-in-hand...if only the crazy Minister of Defense will listen!

The Hive's got it all. Romance! Intrigue! Action! Lousy CGI! Dialogue like "No, we are not going to negotiate with ants" delivered without a hint of irony! A tenuous link between ant brains and our inability to understand suicide bombers! It's like The Battle of Algiers, only instead of pissed-off rebel fighters, there are CGI ants that can pile themselves into hissing snakes! The Hive is a pretty terrible movie all-around, from cameras flinging themselves around like they're on an IV drip of Red Bull to the "...the hell?" sci-fi reveal in the last couple minute of the flick. Still, it's so ridiculous that I was completely won over. I'm not all that keen on the "so bad, it's good" label, but...y'know, that's the general idea. The Hive screams along at a pretty fast pace, it never really goes more than a few minutes without something happening, and whenever you think it's topped itself with the goofiest, most half-thought-out idea possible, hold out another couple minutes and be astonished by something even further out there. This DVD doesn't come recommended in the sense of...y'know, being recommended, but The Hive is pretty much essential viewing for schlock cinema completists or the homebrew MST3K crowd.

Video: The Hive sports a solid anamorphic widescreen presentation (1.78:1). Clarity and detail are both decent enough, although the digital photography can get kinda noisy at times, especially when the lights are dialed down. I spotted some kind of thick edge enhancement in a few places too, although that's really not a headache during most of the flick. Still, I'll give it a thumbs-up, I guess.

Audio: The Dolby Digital stereo audio (192Kbps) is alright...pretty much what you'd stroll in expecting for a Sci-Fi Original killer critter flick. Dialogue is clean and clear, there's a decent sense of stereo separation, and the big stack of explosions and cyber-endoskeleton-liquefying-laser-cannon-things pack enough of a wallop. Y'know, there aren't any swooping dynamics or anything all that hyperaggressive, but it does the job.

For anyone keeping track from home, there aren't any dubs or subtitles this time around.

Extras: Nothing. The DVD does come packaged with a pretty slick looking slipcover, tho'.

Conclusion: Dumb, over-the-top, and a heckuva lot of fun: Recommended.
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