Sunday, April 04, 2010

Witz Pickz: Alaskan Terror

Something weird is happening: at 6:30pm, there are no fewer than three movies involving terrifying things in Alaska. If I want gritty horror, I can watch 30 Days of Night, where vampires take over a small Alaskan town during a month when it's dark all the time and Josh Hartnett has to fight back. If I want a documentary, Grizzly Man is on HBO, getting eaten by bears. And if I want fantasy, and a shoutout to my high-school mascot, Wyvern is making an already bleak town less appealing on the Syfy channel.* Now, I'm not sure what this trio says about Alaska, or how people view Alaska, but I'm thrilled all the same, because I will NEVER live in a small town in Alaska-- it's just not happening. I've seen Northern Exposure. I get it.

Obviously, I need to see what Wyvern is all about, so I check the summary: "A wyvern menances a small Alaskan town." Menaces. Not destroys, but simply menaces. It's a fucking DRAGON. Raccoons menace. Are the dragons stealing food out of trash cans on garbage day? I decided to tune in and see what was up. Here's what I found:

It appears I've tuned in for the final confrontation. A trucker hurdles down a long dirt road in his big rig. A large egg lies in the passenger seat, which I have to assume is a wyvern egg, because it's hard to believe that Wyvern has a b-plot. The man is wearing a trucker hat, is in need of a shave, and looks like he's probably done a fair number of Lifetime movies and afterschool specials. It is entirely unclear whether this guy is our protagonist or a Jurassic Park style scumbag.

The man starts honking the horn intermittently, either to a) attract a wyvern b)scare off a wyvern or c) because honking a truck horn is cool as shit. Fact. Look it up. It must be A (and C), because suddenly, a wyvern appears in the rearview mirror. The wyvern looks like an iguana that drank a red bull (it gives you wings...and when used in mixed drinks, allegedly leads to unwanted blackout sex-- it's why Sparks was going off the market). The wyvern gains quickly on the rig, so the-man-who-I-assume-is-our-hero-although-he-looks-like-every-police-sketch-of-a-date-rapist, SLAMS ON HIS BREAKS, causing the wyvern to smack into the back and get rattled. The move seemed very practiced, and I'm guessing our boy might use that move as a monthly paycheck. Also, I can't believe they decided to use Looney Tunes choreography for this battle. "Drive! Chase! Stop! Boink! Growl! Drive! Chase!"

Our guy drives and the wyvern recovers and follows. Now, I know what you're thinking: "How do we know what the stakes are? Isn't there some way we can have a running commentary announcing how close he is to his goal?" You bet there is! A GPS announces how close Truck McGluck is to his destination. Store that little bit away for later.

The tension builds and the truck hurdles forward, the wyvern getting ever-closer. It breaks one window with it's claw, and Big Rig the Kid swerves to avoid its talons. It's still very unclear if we want this guy to die so the wyvern gets the egg back or if we want him to succeed to stop the wyvern from...menacing...this town. "One mile to destination." The wyvern dives and attacks, the truck dodges. The wyvern breaks the other window, swoops ahead and settles on the windshield. "500 feet to destination." The wyvern rears back, attacks, and smashes the windshield. It reaches into the cab to take the egg back, when all of a sudden, the driver dives out the side, the rig goes flying off the edge of a cliff, and just before it hits the ground, pinning the wyvern to the ground and exploding into flames, we hear, "Destination. Reached." (Ohhhh, GPS Narrative Device payoff!) I think we all know how that production meeting went:

Writer: ...and then the GPS device says, "Destination. Reached."
Producer: Ohhhhh-ho-ho. Wow. I need to change my pants.
Writer: Me too.

So I guess Mr. Big Riggins was our hero after all. He managed to take a species we didn't think existed and cleverly make the fantastical species extinct. Well done, sir. I thought I had a handle on Wyvern, right up until the final scene, when I was suddenly left baffled, pondering a Sherlock Holmes level mystery.

Old Military Guy: Jake! You're back.
Jake (aka Truck McGluck) It's over, Colonel. I took it out with my truck.
Yong Woman: Your new rig!
Jake: Yeah, I didn't need it anyway-- I like it just fine here in Beaver Hills. (to old woman) Maggie here?
Old Woman: Jake-- Maggie passed away over a year ago.
Jake: Good for you Edna, good for you.

...WhaaaaaAAAAAT AN AWESOME ENDING!! BOOM, SHITHEADS! Wyvern. Just. Happened.

Now tell me you don't want to watch that movie.

"This Wyvern Movie Is Dragon,"

*Can someone explain to me why the Sci-Fi channel changed their name to the Syfy channel?


A. E. Funk said...

v. funny, but I think my favorite part was the subtle Friday Night Lights shout out.

momula said... were lost, but now you're found... I lost track of you (my computer died & I lost my Favorites), but finally remembered just to google 'witzpickz' and there you were. Your humor has aged well - deeper, more subtle... I guess life does that to you.

I saw most of 'Wyvern' (on Sci-Fi, back when it was still Sci-Fi) sometime during the '08-'09 school year, after my Wyvern daughter was 'assigned' to watch it by -- Hild? Monroe? Coach Garcia? must have been Hild -- and I have to say, I had a similiar reaction: What? Really? What?? Kind of sad to see these actors needing a paycheck so badly:
-- Barry Corbin, 'Haas,' no stranger to Alaska from his most excellent role as Maurice J. Minnifield in 'Northern Exposure';
-- Elaine Miles, 'Deputy Susie Barnes,' another 'Northern Exposure' alumna who was Fleischmann's secretary/nurse Marilyn;
-- Don S. Davis, 'Col. Travis Sherman,' who most famously played Scully's dad in 'X-Files' who unfortunately died of a heart attack after 2 episodes, and also did one episode of 'Northern Exposure';
-- Nick Chinlund, 'Jake,' aka BigRigger, Chuck McTruck or whatever you said - whose face still gives me chills when I recall his compelling and totally creepy 'Donnie Pfaster' in two episodes of X-Files (don't think he was ever in 'NE,' though).

I don’t think an overall better movie would have kept me from seeing these actors as their former, more awesome ‘selves,’ and I’m pretty sure that more anonymous actors would not have improved this story, so I guess the only thing this movie has going for it is its name. Vivat wyvern!