Komodo (2000)


Komodo (2000)
Cast: Billy Burke, Jillian Hennessy, Kevin Zegers
Director: Michael Lantieri
Nutshell: Giant lizards run amok in Jurassic Park style creature feature
Reviewed by Dr. Ali Khan


This creature feature, keenly awaited by The Hot Spot Team since reading of its production last year, finally saw its grand premiere in Paris. We were there thronging the cinema along with multitudes of avid fans to witness the Komodos taking their bow.

Before starting the review and as part of some background it is important to point out that Komodo Dragons are not creatures of fantasy – in fact one called Fari lives just down the lane for us. They are in fact very much part of the animal kingdom today, inhabiting a small Indonesian island near Bali. And yes they do reach a length of 10 feet making them fearsome and formidable predators.

The story sees Komodo eggs being dumped on a small island, we assume somewhere near mainland USA. Sometime later the eggs have hatched and the inhabitants have grown to their full size. They have also managed to devour a dog and the parents of a young boy right in front of his very eyes. As a result the boy suffers from post traumatic stress and in order to overcome this, his psychiatrist decides to take him back to the scene of the carnage.The island is now all but deserted and the return of the small group to the island sets up the scene for a siege by the salivating lizards.

Komodo is written by the creator of Anaconda and directed by Michael Lantieri, the animatronic special effects wizard behind Jurassic Park. As such it has good credentials and several scenes hark back to recreating the atmosphere and setting of Jurassic Park. Sadly the story thread that binds the film together is extremely weak and whenever the film tries to give depth to its characters, it falters and loses momentum.

We are not interested in the films human characters. It is the Komodos that are the stars and when they are on screen the film has bite. Sadly, this strength is not exploited to the full. Most of the deaths are off screen and not enough is made of the fact that these fearsome animals are capable of ripping apart a human body and that also in a most terrifying manner. On top of that just when you feel that the film should reach a crescendo it finishes with a whimper.

Despite the misgivings the Komodo dragons are well realized. Their glistening hides, their dinosauric features, their formidable presence and those salivating, drooling, teeth filled jaws are worth the entrance money by itself. There are a couple of excellent sequences – a tail is glimpsed, scores of eyes burn red at night, guttural noises and clicks signal their presence and unlike dinosaurs they are living creatures. Unfortunately, the poor Komodos seem to get the wrong end of the stick and too often find themselves on the receiving end – after all it is the Komodos which are the endangered species and not mankind ! !

A few more meals for the Komodos would have been more than welcome and there was certainly scope for it as well considering the films villainous “nasties” don’t even get chowed down upon and remain unscathed.The result is less satisfying than it could have been but all in all for creature feature fans, Komodo is an enjoyable and worthy addition to the genre.