by Jef Burnham
Premieres Saturday, November 27 at 9pm (ET/PT) only on Syfy.
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Colin Ferguson (Eureka), Raoul Tujillo (True Blood, Tin Man) and Steven Brand (The Scorpion King) star in this Syfy Original Movie, premiering Thanksgiving weekend. When the proposed expansion of Stayton University threatens to destroy the Native American culture in Mill City, Oregon, the only recourse for the native population is, of course, to use their magical powers to embody the dinosaur skeletons housed in the heritage museum with ancient spirits of vengeance. But when the dinosaur skeletons start to run amok (and honestly, who could have seen that coming?), devouring scores of bikini-clad co-eds, it’s up to Mill City’s Sheriff and his dysfunctional family to stop the rampaging fossils.
Although this might sound like a riot, Triassic Attack is bogged down by a plot so tired that many of the movie’s own characters, including the Sheriff, seem wholly uninterested in the affair, sure that nothing will come of the natives’ fury at having been swindled by a European (yep, the movie goes there). And you would think the pace would pick up once the dinos start tearing Mill City apart, though, but it really doesn’t. For bogging down the plot at every turn are constant detours into trite narrative asides, such as the University leaders’ refusing to lock down campus in the face of danger, as their fundraiser is simply too important to risk blowing by saving their investors’ lives.
While I can’t deny the necessity to contextualize the events of a movie within a narrative structure, even one as contrived as this, Triassic Attack is played so seriously that one might think the filmmakers’ had ulterior motives. Although one can hardly blame the actors for attempting to play their parts with a bit of dignity or the screenwriter for wanting to fully develop his characters, the resulting work feels simply like a desperate attempt to manufacture “cheese.” Thus the film, due to the filmmakers’ attempt to force the seriousness, becomes, well… pretty damn offensive in its depiction of Native Americans. Ultimately, Triassic Attack depicts Native American leaders as magic-toting lunkheads who’ll summon evil forces on a whim. Unintentional? Maybe. Either way, a bit more self-awareness on- and offscreen would have probably been in order.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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