“To stop an ancient evil, it’s gonna take big guns, hard sticks, and exploding balls!”
With a tag line like that, it certainly sounds like a winner, right? Wrong. I gave it some leeway for being a low-budget affair, but it just is not much fun at all. It is a comic-book inspired action film that is low on the action and fun. The story doesn’t really go anywhere and I sat there waiting for it to end. I did not care about any of the characters, the story was uninvolving, and the special effects were really anything but. I am getting a little bit ahead of myself.
Cross, co-written and directed by Patrick Durham, is set in the present day but has a story that covers pretty much all of time. We learn of the creation of amulets that give their bearers great powers and how there descendants of gods living among us and how the most powerful amulet is the green cross. This is told in a style replicating comic book panels before we are brought to the present day and the main story at hand.
The story centers on Callan (aka Cross), played by Brian Austin Green, the possessor of the green cross and the leader of a vigilante group in LA. They go around town and shoot up bad guys and stuff. Their arch villain is a Kingpin-like baddie called Erlick (Michael Clarke Duncan). He has a group of henchman spreading badness all over town and he has joined forces with an immortal Viking (Vinnie Jones) who has come to town with an ancient staff and a plan.
The Viking goes by the name Gunnar and he needs to collect the blood from the descendants of five deities, all conveniently located in the Los Angeles area. The blood is to be placed into the staff to wreak some evil havoc upon the world. When news of this gets to Callan and his crew, they step up and put a stop to it.
The story by itself is not a bad one, but on the screen it never feels like it is going anywhere. The cast is a decent one with Green, Duncan, and Jones joined by Jake Busey, Tom Sizemore, and bit pars from C. Thomas Howell and Danny Trejo (for all of one line, don’t blink!).
One of the problems is too many characters. The majority of them get fancy onscreen name graphics, but some only have a single scene. There are too many good guys to give effective and development and that leaves even less time for the villains. Jones doesn’t have enough time to do much of anything and Duncan seemed kind of bored.
Sorry, I just wasn’t feeling this. The story never kicked into gear and it seemed like there was some interesting stuff there, but we scarcely scratch it. Callan was a potentially interesting hero, but his back story is barely scratched and Green, while looking the part, really didn’t sell it. Oh well, this is one that can stay on the shelf.
Audio/Video. The film is presented in its original 1.85:1 ratio and looks decent enough for a low budget feature. Cross was shot digitally on the Red One camera and it shows, this does not look very film like. While it does not have the look of film or a nice Hollywood sheen, it does feature nice color and detail. I did not detect any artifacts or compression issues. The quality does waver between scenes, not due to the source but due to the desires of the director to maintain a comic book-like veneer. A good example of this is the introduction bit with our heroes where the colors are all very hot and not very realistic. It is probably not the best of choices, but it is not a fault I find with the transfer.
The Dolby 5.1 audio track is also pretty good. Bass effects are there, there is decent use of surrounds during the action bits and the dialogue is always clear. It is not the best track you will ever hear, but it does the job better than expected considering the quality of the film itself.
Extras. The extras are a rather dull affair, perfectly paired with the movie.
- Commentary. This track features director Patrick Durham and is a dry affair. He tells what is going on the screen, calls out actors, and gives a little background on the shots but it is actually quite dull.
- Alternate Ending. Really a non-event. Not much different than what we got.
- Deleted Scenes. Nothing special here, unless you liked the movie.
- Animatic Alternate Opening. Again, nothing special here.
Bottomline. This is really a movie that you can pass, unless you are a die-hard fan of any of the stars or suffer from insomnia. The action and the mythology are both pretty light for a movie that really needs both to succeed.
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