Battledogs.  As Bas As It Sounds.

Main Cast: Ariana Richards and Craig Sheffer

Director: Alexander Yellin

Ever wonder what happened to the little girl from Jurassic Park? Me neither. But she’s still out there, and she’s still acting. Unfortunately, kids are star in huge movies don’t always grow up to star in huge movies. Case in point: Battledogs.

Wildlife photographer Donna Voorhees (Ariana Richards, Jurassic Park) has returned from Canada with more that just photos of wolves. She’s also got a nasty bite mark on her arm, which, in the middle of JFK, causes her to go into convulsions, transforms into a giant CGI wolf where, like any other outbreak, biting one person turns into biting two wolves turns into four wolves turns into a few dozen wolves before the Army comes in to gas them all to sleep.

Apparently the bite that infected Donna, the bite that took probably several days to take affect, acted a whole lot quicker on everyone else. The Army rounds up the infected, puts them on Wards Island until a cure can be found. Major Brian Hoffman (Craig Sheffer, Nightbreed) wants to help, but Lt. General Monning (Dennis Haysbert, 24) has bigger plans: he wants to weaponize the wolves. Train the wolves to fight, have the cure on hand, but keep it hidden from their enemies. Because this is an Asylum movie and that means the villain has to be the most cliché character around. Can we have a few more movies where the evil General DOESN’T plan to weaponize whatever the threat is? Good Lord.

This becomes the rest of the movie, Hoffman VS. Monning. The werewolves escape Wards Island and are loose in New York City. Meanwhile Hoffman and Dr. Ellen Gordon (Kate Vernon, “Heroes”), with Donna in tow, are trying to make it to safety while keeping safe the antibodies mined from a wolf tooth pulled from Donna’s arm.

Battledogs is pretty much exactly the movie you’d expect with a synopsis like that. The acting is stiff, the dialogue is stiffer, and the special effects are anything but. It’s sad Richards had to go from the effects in Jurassic Park to THIS! These CGI effects aren’t just bad, they’re ridiculously bad.

Shane Van Dyke, the mind behind some movies I actually LIKE (Paranormal Entity, Chernobyl Diaries) wrote this sad attempt at an exciting movie, with Alexander Yellin in his first directing gig (57 camera man jobs does not automatically qualify one to direct). I can’t say it was a totally wasted 88 minutes–there were some interesting ideas in here that could easily be expanded on to make a really great story–but the way this particular story was handled was such a huge fail. You have to put some of that blame at the feet of The Asylum. In fact, I’d put a lot of that blame there. It’s obvious The Asylum likes to crank out a lot of movies in little time using small budgets and d-list talent, but would it kill them to at least pretend to be trying?

On the bright side, I went into this movie fully expecting it to be dumb. So at least, on that score I was right. On the other hand, it’s sad to see a movie that could have been really good turn out so poorly. Even worse it wasn’t just this thing or that, a little change here or a little change there that could have saved it. The list of things wrong with Battledogs is too long to save it and to make a good movie out of this idea, you’d have to start from scratch and make it again, with a different script, a very different director, and a more talented cast. And that’s saying something because I’ve always had a soft spot for Craig Sheffer and Dennis Haysbert. One was in friggin Nightbreed for God’s sake and the other is and always will be President David Palmer. And yet here they are. In Battledogs. Of all things.


I can see what they were going for here, but, damn, the finished product was just so poorly handled.

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