close menu
SPECTRAL Is Not Based on a Video Game, but It Sure Feels Like It (Review)

SPECTRAL Is Not Based on a Video Game, but It Sure Feels Like It (Review)

I had to pause the new Netflix action/sci-fi flick Spectral two separate times to make sure it wasn’t based on a comic book or (more specifically) a video game, and that’s because, well, it plays exactly like a video game based on a comic book would play. And in this case, the end result is actually pretty amusing. Make no mistake: Spectral combines military action, supernatural horror, and high-tech sci-fi craziness into a broad, familiar, and generally entertaining genre film–but let’s just say this flick isn’t exactly what we’d call Oscar bait. It’s a B-movie that knows it’s a b-movie, and if it happens to have (considerably) better special effects than your standard B-movie, then let’s just consider that a small bonus and move on.

The basic gist of the plot: a bunch of American soldiers on a peacekeeping mission in Moldova are being slaughtered by creatures that sure as hell act a whole lot like ghosts: mean, aggressive, seemingly invincible ghosts who can kill a person simply by sweeping through them like a cold breeze. Eventually the brass (Bruce Greenwood, adding his standard dosage of class to a potentially goofy concept) calls in Dr. Clyne (James Badge Dale), the science nerd who designed the special goggles required to actually see the evil apparitions….

Anyway, the scientist starts to investigate and then all hell breaks loose and it’s a pretty fast-paced series of chases, escapes, and kinetic action sequences for the next (appreciably well-paced) 90-some minutes. Mr. Dale acquits himself nicely as a smart yet ass-kickin’ action hero, Emily Mortimer is on hand as a secret agent who (obviously) has a few secrets, and we even get a little bit of Stephen Root at the beginning (that’s always a good thing). Some of the soldiers even get a small dash of personality, and little touches like that often help a whole lot.

Originally produced for theaters but snatched up by Netflix instead, Spectral isn’t the kind of unapologetic B-movie that usually rakes in tons of cash at the box office, so what may have been a one-week run in theaters turns into a surprisingly entertaining feather in Netflix’s cap. Like most genre mash-ups, Spectral does occasionally get too goofy for its own good (like a scene in which our super-genius hero builds an entire arsenal of high-tech weapons seemingly overnight) but it also earns points for leaping into its action, sci-fi, and horror tropes with both feet. The ghost effects are pretty excellent, and several of the action bits are shot with a nice sense of energy/attitude, so while Spectral is most assuredly composed of several components we’ve all seen before, it still earns some credit for being entertaining while being vaguely, perpetually, perhaps even comfortably familiar.

Written by George Nolfi (The Adjustment Bureau) and directed by first-timer Nic Mathieu, Spectral probably won’t win many awards for originality, but if you’re down for a “ghosts vs. soldiers” action flick that doesn’t take itself all that seriously, moves at a nice pace, and boasts a rousing Tom Holkenberg (Junkie XL) score, then Spectral will probably fit the bill.

And I’m still not entirely convinced that this movie isn’t based on a video game. A few hero shots all but scream Halo, Gears of War, or Call of Duty.

3.5 seemingly invincible undead burritos out of 5

3.5-burritos1

(Image: Netflix)

Editor’s Note: Nerdist is a part of Legendary Digital Networks, a subsidiary of Legendary Pictures.

You Can Adopt Dogs Too Friendly for Government Work

You Can Adopt Dogs Too Friendly for Government Work

article
BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY’s Singing-Voice Actor Sounds Uncannily Like Freddie Mercury

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY’s Singing-Voice Actor Sounds Uncannily Like Freddie Mercury

article
Todd McFarlane Tweaks Tom Hardy's Venom

Todd McFarlane Tweaks Tom Hardy's Venom

article