Sunday, February 01, 2009

Scifi Channel Movie: Wyvern

Watching Scifi Channel's Saturday night movies is a hit and miss endeavor. Yesterday's airing of Wyvern was a hit. The movie is a classic monster- terrorizing-remote-small-town genre flick. In this case, a dragon from Norse mythology known as a wyvern, and a small town in northern Alaska, called Beaver something or other. Beaver Creek, Beaver Falls, whatever. The choice of name gives the producers the chance to name the town's restaurant, run by the local beauty, The Beaver Pelt. Enough said about that.

So, anyway, the movie gets off to a good start in setting the scene with some coy references to Northern Exposure. The cast includes some actors from that TV show, who play variations on their roles from the series. The town doctor, not played by the actor from Northern Exposure, is very clearly based on the big-city doctor in the series.

The movie does the monster genre things right. The computer graphics are very good and the plot pushes all the right buttons: monster suddenly appears, vague sightings, animals and people getting killed off, the monster revealed, the town isolated and under siege, the townsfolk trapped in a restaurant, the humans fight back, loved ones die, the hero resolves his conflict, and victory. Think Tremors.

Wyvern also does some non-genre things right. The film is written by the award winning Jason Borque, who has a solid career making documentaries, television shows and movies, and feature films. (Here.) His script show literary talent.

In the story, the wyvern is unleashed on the world when human-caused global warming melts a glacier in which the dragon had been trapped by Odin millenia ago. The wyvern's release is a direct result of humanity's greed and arrogance, which causes people to do what they want regardless of the consequences.

Meanwhile, the movie's hero is a guilt-ridden big rig trucker who blames himself for the death of his brother. His brother has died in a truck accident that happened when the ice melted and the truck fell into the water. The hero was driving the truck and couldn't save his brother. The hero blames himself for this brother's death because his own greed and arrogance caused him to take the job and push on down the highway, even though he didn't need the money and he knew the ice road was at risk.

Resolution comes in the movie when the hero faces down his guilt and lures the dragon into a final conflict that directly parallels the accident that killed the hero's brother. It gives nothing away to say that the hero saves the day, atones for his sin, and gets the small-town girl.

When Scifi Channel repeats Wyvern, as it inevitably will, check it out. It's worth the time. And if you need another reason, it's the final movie with actor Don S. Davis of TV's Stargate. Davis passed on unexpectedly last year. (Here.)


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Not bad at all.
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