Friday, 23 September 2016

Navy Seals vs. Zombies - review

2015 (USA)

Contains mild spoilers.
It was only after learning first time director Stanton Barrett's resume included stunt work, Nascar racing and obviously all the serious head trauma that entailed, that Navy Seals vs. Zombies renamed Security Guard Navy Seals: The Battle for New Orleans for Netflix made any sense. Now I don't mean make sense in terms of narrative or actually what happens; Navy Seals vs. Zombies is about as obvious and in your face as a brick in yogurt. What I'm talking about is make sense, as in casting old overweight men as the best of the best, in the field present them generally inept at making the right calls and surprisingly fragile, and actually release a feature clearly unfinished with so many jarring goofs to make Ed Wood's own efforts appear exacting and polished in comparison.

Ed Quinn as Unit commander Lt. Pete Cunningham obviously has some bills to pay as why he voluntarily agreed to not only take part, but take a lead role in this strange, raw, simplistic military action film is beyond me. He does a good job though, as do all five of the Seals, competently and believably pulling off all the military jargon and close quarters room by room manoeuvring. Also the two tag along reporters, Amanda (Stephanie Honoré) and Dave (Massimo Dobrovic) extracted with the vice president, who then choose to accompany the guys to their second target, too pull off their roles with sincerity and enthusiasm. So the blame clearly can't lie here. Also the basic premise sounds good on paper; and highly experiences Navy Seals are sent right into the centre of an emerging zombie shit-storm to rescue a high profile figure makes a welcome change from Joe average's quickly learning to swing a knife. I'd even go as far to add that an obvious low budget and direct to TV look and feel can be managed with a little imagination and some careful planning. So where does it all go wrong?

Some attention to detail would be a good start. Such was the number of times cars could clearly be seen going about their normal every-day on the edge of shot, or people could be seen pottering around in the background of a city that was being pushed as totally and utterly post apocalyptic, that I stopped counting. Also at 1:32:02; and yes I paused, rewound and went back in slow-mo in disbelief; a sound or effects engineer was clearly in shot, knelt down with the Seals actually having to manoeuvre around him to get into a room to look for the lone survivor. Also, even when there aren't these distractions the film is full of continuity mistakes and terrible and baffling story decisions that are impossible to go along with, none more so than having us believe they'd send just 5 troops and one helicopter to deal with the full scale collapse of a large American city, or have us believe the single scientist who might offer some hope of a cure would have spent the ensuing carnage and maelstrom of death patiently sitting in her hidden top secret CIA lab twiddling her thumbs. A certain level of amateurness I can deal with; the level of neglect and care on display here is criminal.

There wasn't clearly any budget for make-up or effects. Actually that's a lie; the odd zombie did have a small spot or two of blood, or a gnarly smudge of eye-liner; and there was a single interesting demonic rise from the dead zombie moment near the start that actually had me smiling. Explosions were all obvious and poorly implemented computer graphics, as were all the strangely mooted gun shots, and all the big aerial pans shots, and military footage was clearly stock and fiddled with. If I hadn't known I'd have easily thought this a bad SyFy special from ten years ago.  

Look I know some of the carnage is fun, some of the military antics will excite the little boy in all of us and pointing out obvious goofs can feel rewarding but Navy Seals vs. Zombies is not a film that really deserves even a modicum of credit. Maybe Stanton Barrett is our new Ed Wood, and maybe people will refer to his only directorial feature film as a cult classic in years to come; but I doubt it. Plan 9 from Outer Space had kitsch born from not just its atrocious production but from the legacy of all involved, and Navy Seals is just a cheap cynical cash-in laughably constructed by people who clearly couldn't be that bothered. Look, maybe I am being a tad hard and as said Ed Quinn, and all, did put in a shift. Also, even though there wasn't an option to translate the various news banners used back to English on this German Blu-ray, it looked and sounded great with the full English 5.1 DTS soundtrack; though thinking about it, perhaps we've finally stumbled on the films biggest problem; that with a clean crisp full HD transfer there's nowhere to hide the warts; the short-cuts, or the clear acceptance of mediocrity 3/10.



  1. I watched this recently (on Netflix I think) poor, it has to be said

    1. Poor you. Was I alone spotting all the cars / people in the background, or did they distract you too?

  2. no, I noticed that there seemed to be much casual car use during the apocalypse :)