Monolith (1994)

Rating:

USA. 1994.

Crew

Director – John Eyres, Screenplay – Stephen Lister, Producers – John Eyres & Geoff Griffiths, Photography – Alan M. Trow, Music – Frank Becker, Visual Effects – Introvision (Supervisor – John Mesa), Optical/Animation Effects – Available Light, Special Effects – Ultimate Effects (Supervisor – John Hartigan), Prosthetic Makeup – Howard Berger, Special Effects Makeup – Rene Dashiell, Production Design – Mark Harris. Production Company – Tucker and Flynn Production Venture/EGM Film Entertainment

Cast

Bill Paxton (Detective Tucker), Lindsay Frost (Terri Flynn), John Hurt (Vilano), Louis Gossett Jr (Captain McCandless), Musetta Vander (Dr Katya Pavlova)


Plot

Detectives Tucker and Flynn arrest a woman after she tries to run down and then shoot a child. The woman turns out to be a Russian scientist. Villano, the head of the Department of Historical Research, then turns up and demands to take the woman and the boy’s body into his custody. As Tucker and Flynn continue their investigation, they find that the Department of Historical Research is a front for a government UFO investigation agency. It becomes apparent that what they are dealing with is an alien unearthed from a UFO crash that has no form but can possess people’s bodies. The alien then takes over Tucker’s body, leaving Flynn with only two hours to stop the menace before Tucker is lost for good.


The Hidden (1987) was an appealing low-budget affair with the original idea of cops pursuing an alien that possesses humans, as well as an enjoyable variation on the buddy cop film involving a human cop paired with an alien partner. Variations on both of these ideas have been replayed in various films since with the likes of the tv mini-series Something is Out There (1988) and films like Peacemaker (1990), Dark Angel/I Come in Peace (1990) and the Hong Kong entry The Cat (1992). Monolith was another variant on the idea from director John Eyres who had previously visited the science-fiction genre with Project: Shadowchaser (1992).

Monolith was originally called Tucker and Flynn but the name was changed as presumably this made it sounded like even more of a human-canine pairing than the buddy cop and dog partner comedy Turner and Hooch (1989). (Unfortunately, no one seems to have realised the inappropriateness of the new title in that there are no monoliths in the film). Nevertheless, the buddy cop element works well. Bill Paxton and Lindsay Frost are a pairing that one could credibly believe together as the leads in a tv cop show – he playing (quite well) the macho individualistic slob, she playing (equally well) the aggressively determined go-getter who operates by hunch. If Monolith had stayed as merely a buddy cop film, it could have been quite good.

Unfortunately, Monolith falls down completely in trying to be an science-fiction film as well. Certainly, it is marginally more credible than John Eyres’s previous science-fiction film – the preposterous Project: Shadowchaser. However, the science-fiction angle seems almost to have been written in as an afterthought. It is supposed to be the central drive of the film but the devious dealings of the sinister government agency take up more running time than the alien threat itself does. The sinister government agency angle is pure cliche – Monolith gives the indication of also trying to jump on the bandwagon of tv’s The X Files (1993-2002, 2016– ), which was hitting its peak of popularity when the film came out. Here John Hurt is horrendously miscast. Hurt’s fruity delivery is not at all suited to the role of a villain (who is given the laughably unsubtle name of Villano), while Hurt’s diminutive height mitigates against any threat. It all mounts to an unremarkable climax – Bill Paxton must fight between his human and alien natures, human feelings win out and everything goes up in explosion. Ho-hum.

John Eyres’ other genre films, mostly action hybrids, are:– Goodnight, God Bless (1987), Project: Shadowchaser (1992), Project Shadowchaser II (1995), Project Shadowchaser III (1995), Judge and Jury (1996), Octopus (2000) and Ripper: Letter from Hell (2001). Eyres also produced Dark Planet (1996), The Apocalypse (1997) and Spoiler (1997).



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