"Beneath Heaven Lies Hell...Beneath Hell Lies...The Cave."
With a tagline like that, how could I NOT watch this movie?
I knew what I was getting myself into with this one. I knew that it wouldn't be Oscar-worthy, knew it wouldn't have good acting, a good plot, or anything worthwhile about it. Sometimes you just need to see movies like The Cave in order to appreciate really the good films out there. Granted, I had JUST watched Jaws 3 not even an hour before I caught this flick, but we had it recorded on the DVR and it was just going to take up space until we watched it. Eventually it had to go. So I figured "what better one-two punch than The Cave and Jaws 3?"
Turns out any one-two punch other than Crossroads and Gigli would have been better. The one cool thing about this film was the cinematography; there was a really gritty stubble-like effect to the grain of the film that looked pretty sweet. Sadly, this effect only appeared in the opening scene (a flashback), so it disappeared as quickly as it came.
The plot wasn't too terribly conceived: a team of scientists exploring the Romanian mountains find a new cave system under the ruins of an old church and hire some American spelunkers to take them down and check it out. Little do they know that this particular cave system is filled with hellish monsters created by a parasite species which exponentially evolves its hosts into winged demon creatures. This sounds semi-cool, and I think it could have been a decent movie if the filmmakers approached it correctly.
In my opinion, there were way too many characters for the story that was being told. There were like 9 people down in that cave, and I honestly can only tell you the names of the two main characters - brothers who went by Jack and Tyler. Every other character was about as bland as you could be: there was absolutely no attempt at character development, backstory, or anything that would have made us feel sympathetic for the characters at all. I have no idea how this movie made it through the screening process into a Hollywood production.
The computer graphics for the monsters were passable, but you know in Signs how once they showed the aliens it was kind of downhill from there? Same thing in The Cave. And since they didn't have the audience feeling for any of the human characters, the monsters were the only thing they had going for them.
Was the movie scary? Not really. Was it innovative? No, as evidenced by the fact that this came right on the heels of The Descent in theaters, and it's practically the same thing. I'm not really sure how I feel about Hollywood doing that whole "let's release at least two films at the same time, taking place in practically the same world, with basically the same plot line and see which one makes more money" thing. Some prominent examples:
Tombstone and Wyatt Earp in 1994 and '95 - biography of Wyatt Earp's life and adventures.
Babe and Gordy in 1995 - talking pigs.
Deep Impact and Armageddon in 1998 - end of the world, disaster, etc.
A Bug's Life and Antz in 1998 - animated talking ant kid movies.
Dark City and The Matrix in 1998 and '99 - dark, sci-fi thrillers.
Mission to Mars and Red Planet in 2000 - I think you can guess what these were about.
Aeon Flux and Ultraviolet in 2005 and '06 - sexy women sci-fi tight clothing resistance movies.
The Prestige and The Illusionist in 2006 - magic films set in the 1800's.
I guess I think it's a good thing that Hollywood is doing this, as annoying as it may appear, because it provides us (the audience) with a little variety to choose from. If we don't want to see that magician film with Ed Norton, we can see that magician film with Hugh Jackman instead. It's all about personal preference. There are countless other examples of this phenomenon in Hollywood over the past 20 years, and I can't really think of a downside to it. If anyone feels differently, you're entitled to your own opinion and I don't want to hear about it. Hah. Just kidding. But not really. But seriously. I'm joking. But really, I've got them in the back.
Back to The Cave. Not being able to relate/feel for/care about any of the characters was what hurt this film the most. I think they had the premise for a potentially awesome horror flick, and they let it slip right through their fingers. The only cool parts about the cast were that Eddie Towne from "Tilt" was in it, and there was a dude by the name of Morris Chestnut in it also. Needless to say, leave this movie alone and go watch season one of "Tilt" on DVD instead. Until next time, amigos...