Oh, the pain. Watching Virus is like having your testicles slammed in a door jamb; all you can do is wait for the agony to pass and hope that someone brings you stiff drink in the meantime.
Based on the Dark Horse Comic graphic novel by Chuck Pfarrer, who also wrote the screenplay, Virus is the tale of a salvage boat crew who come upon an abandoned Russian research vessel in international waters. The salvage crew, led by Capt. Etherton (Sutherland, apparently drunk) board the ship and see evidence of a mass exodus, but are too busy counting the millions they will get if the bring this puppy to care what caused the crew to leave the ship. Etherton's navigator, Kit (Curtis) is the only voice of reason, but, like her co-horts, she can already smell the money and keeps her protests to a minimum, that is, until they discover the body of what appears to be a man with machine parts as well as the ship's only survivor, Nadia. There goes the salvage!
Nadia tells the crew about a strange electrical signal that infiltrated the research vessels computers, communication devices, and just about anything else you'd have to plug in, and managed to kill off most of her commrades and turn them into cyborg slaves with which this "virus" hopes to use to help it spread when the ship reaches civilization. No one buys this story, of course, least of all Etherton who wants to kill Nadia to protect his salvage, but one by one (ain't that always the way?!) the salvage boat crew get metal make-overs and the virus's chances for world domination start looking pretty good.
Virus (aka Virus:Ghost in the Machine) cost well over $75 million dollars to make, and yet, with all of that green stuff, the movie still looks and feels like a rubbish made for cable crapfest. The graphic novel was actually a decent read, and when I had heard they were making a film of it, I was excited, but also a bit suspect. On the page of a comic book Virus was swell, but as a movie? Well, as you can tell, I was less than pleased with the results.
The main problem with Virus are the performances. Donald Sutherland has never been worse in a movie, and considering his ouvre' that's pretty bad. His Capt. Etherton seems to juggle an Irish accent one minute, and a bad southern drawl the next, all the while looking stoned out of his mind. I have read that Sutherland is one of the most difficult actors to work with, and will often "phone-in" a performance if he is not happy with the production. This must have been the case here, because you can almost SEE him roll his eyes everytime he's about to deliver a line.
Curtis, Baldwin and Pacula do well with what they are given, which is to say they look around all wide-eyed, scream, cry and cower, and then look around all wide eyed some more.
The real stars of Virus are it's very nice and gorey effects, which look to be a cross between The Terminator and a butcher shop. When the cyborg-type creatures are on screen the film gets interesting, but these scenes are few and far between, with CGI robot spiders and flies taking up the bulk of the screen time.
Virus may be worth a look for visual effects buffs, especially those who are keen on sparks and metal bugs. Fans of story, acting, and genuine scares are better off looking elsewhere, say perhaps the surveillance camera monitor at your local convenience store.
The disc itself comes fairly buffed out with extras, including three deleted scenes and a commentary track with Bruno, as well as a short bit called
"Making Ghost in the Machine" which gives us a glimpse at how the people behind this film managed to apparently lose $75 million dollars. Tack on the
trailers and bios and you've got the kind of package that, by all rights, should not accompany a film as crap as this, and shouldn't sway anyone but the
most die-hard Curtis fans to buy it.