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Bats: Human Harvest (2007)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 3/11/2008
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/6/2008
When I review a movie, I typically try to find the extremes pros and cons of the film and then describe them in order to make a case about the movie's quality or lack-thereof. I don't think that I've ever stooped to reviewing a tagline. But, that can't be helped with Bats: Human Harvest. The DVD box states, "Don't Go Near The Dark". Since when is the dark a geographic location? How can I go near, or for that matter, avoid, something which merely is? The sad part is that, illogical as that statement is, it may be the best part of this movie.
Bats: Human Harvest tells the story of a military operation gone wrong. U.S. intelligence has learned that an American scientist, Dr. Walsh (Tomas Arana), has moved his base of operations to Chechnya. A group of Delta Force soldiers, lead by Martinez (Michael Jace) are charged with the task of going into the dangerous Belzan forest and retrieving the doctor. They will be accompanied by Katya (Pollyanna McIntosh), a Soviet who is familiar with the area. The group has been made aware of the fact that the area is crawling with Chechn rebels, and they assume that this will be their biggest obstacle. But, they soon discover that Dr. Walsh is responsible for a group of mutant bats who eat human flesh. The bats can lift a man off of the ground and devour him in a matter of seconds. Now it's up to Russo (David Chokachi) to find the Doctor and get the soldiers back to the helicopter by nightfall before the bats kill them all.
Wait a minute..."get the soldiers back to the helicopter by nightfall before the bats kill them all"? I thought that bats were nocturnal creatures. Welcome to the wonderful world of trying to decipher Bats: Human Harvest. This film is a sequel-in-name-only to the 1999 film which starred Lou Diamond Phillips. The connection is that both films are about genetically mutated bats. (I'm fairly certain that's the only connection, as I've never seen Bats, although I've always been intrigued by the trailer which shows a bat ringing a doorbell.) Bats wasn't a huge money-maker and the movie has a 3.2 out of 10 rating on IMDB.com and a 4% out of 100 (!) rating onRottentomaotes.com, so I don't think many people were clamoring for a sequel. And after watching this movie, which debuted on the Sci-fi Channel, I certainly don't think they'll be asking for a third Bats movie.
Now, Sci-fi loves to air these "animals amok" movies and while none of them have been classics, a few have had fun moments. I'm sorry to report that there's nothing fun or entertaining in Bats: Human Harvest. The movie is simply a series of scenes where various characters run through the woods, broken up by the occasional bat attack. Honestly, I can't imagine how the movie was edited, as it must have been nearly impossible to differentiate between the dozens of "soldiers run past trees" shots.
The story is your standard "cocky soldiers enter unfamiliar territory and meet monsters" Aliens rip-off. It's nearly impossible to tell the characters apart, which is OK, as we don't learn anything about them anyway. If they ever stated exactly why Dr. Walsh felt the need to create mutant bats, then my mind must have been wandering, as I missed it. The dialogue is hackneyed and it reaches its low-point with the line "Bats bounce off of me". The movie offers what may be construed as a clever moment during the finale, but it is too little, too late. This is yet another low-budget film which is chock full of questionable CGI effects, from the helicopters to the bats, which change in size from scene to scene, and often appear to be flying through people.
If you know anything at all about bats, then you know that they are docile creatures who actually aid mankind by eating mosquitoes, so the idea of them being villain in a film is somewhat ludicrous to begin with. Add this notion to a movie which is a bargain-basement affair from the outset, and you've got the making of a bad movie. This is one of those films which is so mundane and pointless that it doesn't even allow the opportunity to become a Mystery Science Theater 3000-esque mockfest. I didn't see the film when it aired on TV (I guess I'm lucky in that sense), but this R-rated cut does contain several severed limbs. Bats don't have very good eyesight. That doesn't sound like a positive attribute, but it means that they can't see this movie and that's certainly a good thing for them.
Bats: Human Harvest flies onto DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. I'm going to assume that the movie was shot on HD, as the image is very sharp and clear. The image shows no grain and no defects from the source material. The image is somewhat dark at times, but the colors are OK. Some video noise is evident at times, and there are always outlines around the CG creations. The disc carries a Dolby 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are good, and the surround sound effects kick in (to an extent) during the bat attack sequences. The gunfire and some explosions bring forth some scant subwoofer effects.
The Bats: Human Harvest DVD contains only one bonus feature. We get two DELETED SCENES, which run about 2 minutes total. There is no "Play All" selection and neither scene adds anything to the movie...and even a "not horrible" scene would have added to the movie.
Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long