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The Cave

You would have to dig really deep to find a worse film than The Cave, the latest bad film in a season remarkably bad.
Those who thought our culture had reached a low with its remake of a bad television series about southern yahoos run amuck – that would be Dukes of Hazzard – ain’t seen nothing yet. Every film this summer has seemed more dismal than the one it follows, and The Cave is an apt artifact of stupidity in an era that is becoming dumb and dumber every minute.  
The Cave opens promising enough, with a group of explorers set to excavate a massive cave system in Romania. The international team finds a temple over the entrance of the cave. A mosaic depicting Templar Knights battling demons seals off the opening, so they blow it up, scale down into the darkness, and are giddy with joy until an unexpected earthquake (set off by their explosion) buries them in the underground world.
Twenty years later a group of cracker-jack American cavers are called in to finish the job. Never mind that they seem like divers, not cavers. Lucky for them, the cave is more of a vast underground waterway than an actual cave anyhow. The team consists of a two or three interchangeable dudes and one hot tomboy.
If you can tell the main characters apart you’re a better man than me. I began thinking of them as not so much as characters as walking, talking advertisements for ab machines, failed GQ models forced to act as goldfish food to a silly monster, poster-boy honkies of the lowest order. Even the big, bald, black dude seems somehow incredibly white, sanitized and harmless as an underwear model. I think one was named Strobe, which sort of set him apart somehow, but the cast’s ubiquity is truly awe inspiring.
Let’s face it, we white guys all look alike. Get a room full of six-foot tall frat boys together and the only way you’ll be able to distinguish between them from one another is if they wear name tags. This explains why makers of action figures invariably rely on eye patches, facial scars or weird uniforms to set them apart from one another.
The Cave simplifies its women, too, using the old Charlie’s Angel’s method of casting. The brainy scientist is, of course, a brunette named Katherine (Lena Headley) while the tom-boyish, extreme-sport hard body is a blond named Charlie (Piper Perabo). Charlie also says things like, “Sick!” and “This is totally rocking!” which gives away that she’s probably not a geneticist.   
Much of The Cave is a blur to me – literally. Shot in a fast-speed, chaotic manner than reminds me of home movies made from the perspective of the family dog, the movie not only rips off the Blair Witch Project’s use of shaky camera footage, but also Predator’s weird first-person (first-creature?) visuals. The result is a bumpy ride through a dark, wet chute.
In fact, most of the film feels like it was shot in a Disney ride gone bad. A typical scene involves the whole goofy crew sliding down a water chute until it empties into an underground lake, just like at Water Country. The only thing missing is the dramatic snapshot of people having fun that will be sold back to you for $10. Although it features some of the dullest climbing footage ever, the film really is more like Jason in Mr. Toad's Wild Ride – though it’s much less than this, of course.
I’m no evolutionary biologist, but I found the movie’s creature to be less an example of dynamic adaptation than simple theft. Before you see the entire shambling mess that is the monster you would swear you were dealing with Ripley’s Alien or maybe some version of the Predator. When it reveals itself in a dumb scene toward the end of the film as a giant reptilian flying squirrel it’s impossible to hide your disappointment that it’s not more derivative. It turns out to be so far less than your least expectation, such a total let down that it makes your nostalgic for the early parts of the film, where the creature is mostly hidden.
I didn’t really expect The Cave to be scary, but I thought it might be unintentionally amusing. It’s not. In fact this is the least fun movie I have seen all year, a solid block of dullness so dense that it blots out any reasonable response. It is not funny; not scary; not interesting, and definitely not worth your time.

 

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