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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

SUPER HYBRID -- DVD review by porfle

While I have a pretty limber suspension of disbelief, I think it pulled a hamstring trying to keep up with SUPER HYBRID (2010).  A car that's possessed by evil spirits (like CHRISTINE) is one thing, but a car that is itself a shape-changing creature--which, after millions of years of evolution, can turn into different motor vehicles to lure tasty humans into its plush interior--is stretching things a bit.  Especially when it has a big, toothy monster head and a bunch of tentacles writhing under the hood.

The movie opens with some nice overhead shots of Chicago at night as the camera descends all the way to street level, where we see the sleek, flat-black muscle car already stalking its prey.  After devouring a couple of would-be car thieves, it gets T-boned (in a well-staged crash stunt) and hauled to the city garage. 

These opening shots give SUPER HYBRID a glossy, expansive look that will disappear when the story gets shoehorned into that three-level garage for the rest of the film.  Tilda (Shannon Beckner) shows up for work about the same time that the evil car is whacking another mechanic named Hector.  The other characters include Tilda's nephew Bobby (Ryan Kennedy), grease monkeys Gordy (Adrien Dorval) and Al (Josh Strait), ditzy secretary Maria (Melanie Papalia), and Oded Fehr (THE MUMMY) as their dour boss Ray, who runs the place like he's still commanding an Army platoon.

It isn't long before they start noticing that the strange black car doesn't feel like metal or fiberglass, moves by itself, and seems to growl.  When it starts attacking them, Ray comes up with a brilliant idea--capture it and sell the story to the news.  This sounds great until they start dying one by one, while the script again strains credulity by making escape from the parking garage impossible and throwing in the old "my cell phone doesn't work" trope for good measure. 

How do we know what the thing is and how it came to be?  Well, college student Bobby took a marine biology class once so he's able to reel off an egghead lecture about animals that can lure their prey by resembling rocks and plants.  Which, of course, is how this man-eating whatchamacallit has mechanical moving parts and an electrical system, knows all the various makes and models of every car ever made, and whizzes up and down the highway looking like something out of GONE IN 6O SECONDS.

What follows is a series of action setpieces with some tense character interplay in between, all of which takes place in the cramped confines of a single interior location.  Eric Valette's direction is sound and the acting is fairly good (Oded is the standout, as you might guess), with some bristling conflicts between the craven Ray and an increasingly frantic Tilda. 

But there's only so much you can do with cars crashing around in a parking garage for an hour-and-a-half before things begin to get a little monotonous.  Although they hatch a plan to capture Super Hybrid around the halfway point, it takes them forever to implement it.  Meanwhile, we watch more cars getting smashed and people being chased around and around.

As for the SPFX, I could happily go the rest of my life without seeing another bad-CGI tentacle.  But this car is loaded with them, not to mention that snapping dino-croc head where the air filter should be.  It's a really dumb idea for a movie monster and would've been a lot more convincing if we were only told that the car was alive rather than being shown in such a goofy-looking way.  The practical effects--that is, car crashes and stuff--are fine.  More fakey CGI shows up in the finale, when we get our first good look at the mysterious monster without its chassis.

The DVD from Anchor Bay is in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby 5.1 sound and subtitles in English and Spanish.  Included as an extra is a 34-minute making-of featurette, "Under the Hood of 'Super Hybrid'."

If you're in the mood for a low-budget version of ALIEN with a car instead of an alien and a parking garage instead of a spaceship, and you aren't expecting something on the level of CHRISTINE, you can probably have some fun watching SUPER HYBRID.  Just don't be surprised if your suspension of disbelief goes bungee-jumping out of the movie every time that car grabs somebody with those damn CGI tentacles or growls like a junkyard dog.

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1 comment:

Alexander said...

You made ​​a very funny review. I think I'll watch the movie just to have fun.