Screamers - * *

Screamers is a science fiction thriller that actually manages to produce a couple of surprising plot twists (amid many all-too predictable ones). The story is set nearly one hundred years in the future, on the desolate planet Sirius 6B. A long lasting war is raging between the N.E.B. and the Alliance. Peter Weller stars as the gruff Alliance commander on Sirius. The N.E.B. was winning the war by using nuclear weapons, however the Alliance retaliated with a weapon affectionately called a “Screamer”. Screamers are self programming robots that are somewhat of a cross between a homing land mine, and a buzz saw. They are self sustaining, replicate in some sort of underground factory, and are even able to update and improve their design and programming. When a messager from the N.E.B. bearing an entreaty for peace stumbles within sight of the Alliance compound, before being torn limb from limb by several screamers, the commander decides to journey to the N.E.B. and negotiate peace. However, the Alliance has been isolated in their compound for the past two years, and his journey shows him that the screamers have proven more successful than anyone could have hoped or feared. Screamers packs more punch when it tackles the science fiction side of its story rather than the action/horror aspect. More horrifying than simple mechanized buzzsaws are the Pandora’s Box effects of powerful technology, and the eerie sensation caused by not knowing who your friends and enemies truly are. The special effects run the gamut from cheesy to pretty good. The acting is servicable, with Weller’s gruff commander providing most of the prestige. Still, the movie ends with a weak gimmick, and leaves you with the feeling that it could have done better had it had more trust in itself and its own concepts.

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