Bat Reputation

Years ago, returning home from acts of hedonism at an ungodly hour, I came upon a bat on the sidewalk in front of my building. It looked like a snow white hamster with wings – very cute. It must have flown against the building and stunned itself – when I approached, it fluttered a few feet and landed again. Not wanting neighborhood predators to catch it, I put it up in a box on the back porch with some grapes and water. The next morning it was gone. I never felt the least bit threatened by it, despite an upbringing filled with tales of blood-drinking, vermin-infested, hair-nest-building rats-with-wings.

This point is made early on in Bats of course, by buxom scientist Dina Meyer (Starship Troopers, gone nicely blonde). “Bats don’t kill people!” To which, of course, someone eventually replies: “These are no ordinary bats!”

I was sorely tempted to write my review before I saw this movie, but somehow I always hope the filmmakers will surprise me with some new twists and fun ideas. But there’s not much here that’s not a slicker version of Arthur Hiller’s Nightwing (with a bit of Chosen Survivors thrown in). Leon Robinson (who was also in B*A*P*S, oddly enough) plays the Black guy that wisecracks and acts scared all the time. Lou Diamond Phillips (The Big Hit) plays The Sheriff with a touch of just enough character that he doesn’t completely disappear.

Oh, and then there’s the bats. In case you couldn’t tell, there’s a lot of bats in the movie. Big, noisy, man-eating bats. In flight, they look darn cool for the most part, animated a bit better than those in the From Dusk Till Dawn movies. However, in every close-up, they look as phony as any puppet in the Ghoulies series.

One glimmer: the “fortify the position” sequence, in which the cast grabs up hammers and nails and starts banging away in windows and doors (see Night of the Living Dead) is accompanied by an operatic aria. Other than that, it’s all by the numbers. Whaddya expect from the guy who directed Carnosaur 2?

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