I’m not sure what’s funnier…the plot of Virus or that those involved actually thought they had a potential successful franchise on their hands. Enough so that it also got a line of action figures & a video game!
Virus is a huge disappointment, a boorish sci-fi horror that lacks any scares or thrills wasting a talented group of actors that include Jamie Lee Curtis & Donald Sutherland.
The movie opens on the Russian ship in the South Pacific. It is hit by an electrical surge while contacting a Russian space station. The surge invades the ship’s computer casing chaos & destroying the space station.
A week later, a tugboat captained by Robert Everton (Donald Sutherland) takes damage during a storm losing its cargo. This cargo was super-important to the captain as it would pay off his mounting debts. About to take his own life he is interrupted by his crew who have spied the Russian ship seemingly adrift & free to salvage.
His crew, initially sceptical about it agree once they realise how much money it could be worth. Only Steve Baker (William Baldwin) & Kelly Foster (Jamie Lee Curtis) remain wary, questioning just how & why it would be abandoned.
While exploring, the crew discover that most of the ships electrical equipment has been destroyed. There are also clear signs of fire-fights. With no-one aboard, the crew of the tug-boat are free to salvage the ship. However, when they get the power on the huge anchor drops. It smashes into the smaller boat, sinking it & leaving them stranded.
After finding a survivor, Chief Science Officer Nadia Vinogradova (Joanna Pacuła) they realise that the ship isn’t as empty as they first thought. The electrical surge brought something with it. Something that needs power to move around the ship, something that is now awake.
This is where things get very silly.
The surge is an alien being that sees humanity as a virus & it is building machines/transforming its victims into human cyborgs. It’s hilariously bad & it really is testament to the excellent actors that they didn’t just start laughing when first faced with one of these human-machine things.
Virus takes an age to get going with a large cast with most instantly marked out as fodder. The leads, Foster & Baker have zero charisma for their poorly-told love story & while Curtis is as enjoyable as always, Baldwin is plain & uninteresting. It’s hard to care about anyone else as they get little screen time & you’re just waiting for them to get killed. Something that takes far too long.
When the crap hits the fan the movie does improve provided you’re willing to detach your brain & ignore any semblance of rational thinking. Everton is a drunk & a very bad captain yet this crew have continued to work under him with no clear reason why. They’re not loyal to him, they question his orders & disrespect him at every turn. Sutherland plays it well enough but he’s not exactly putting much effort
The effects are very 90s, a mix of practical & CGI. The practical effects look decent but the CGI has aged terribly. It makes the final 20 minutes or so an absolute chore to get through.
It’s not the worst sci-fi horror you’ll ever see but if offers nothing fresh. Or anything unique & interesting in a genre that by 1999, was already devoid of ideas.