The Cave Review

The Cave could easily be a Doug McClure potboiler given the extreme sports makeover. As with At the Earth’s Core and the rest, it’s essentially an old-fashioned yarn about a mismatched bunch of biologists and adventurers who head underground, overcoming various perils and the occasional death until the final showdown with whatever the given monster is. The only real difference here is the techno-fetishistic attitude and the addition of high octane potholing, scuba diving and the like.

The only problem with this comparison is that it looks back too far. Though McClure only had his heyday in the early seventies, those responsible for The Cave will only accept Alien from that decade, otherwise it’s the more modern likes of Deep Blue Sea, The Abyss and Aliens which provide the frame of reference: from the first we get the headstrong female lead who can hold her own amongst all the testosterone; from the second we get the ‘enemy within’ subplot whereby one of the number begins to slowly lose his marbles; and from the third we get the macho posturing, wise-ass dialogue and barely veiled homoeroticism (calling each other “ladies” apparently being a prerequisite).

None of these are quite as overt as the Alien nods, however. Indeed, such is the obviousness of the references that they must surely constitute rip-offs as opposed to homage. There’s the Ten Little Indians approach as the cast members get bumped off one by one – often in very similar fashions to those which befell Ridley Scott’s characters – whilst the final revelation of our underworld alien/prehistoric creature/whatever clearly owes a huge debt to H.R. Giger’s original designs. The only genuine alteration as far as I can tell is that it has also borrowed a characteristic or two from dragon mythology, i.e. it has wings and can breathe fire.

All of which wouldn’t matter too much has The Cave offered something besides. Yet it’s directed by a man best known for his second and third unit work, Bruce Hunt (his key credits being on The Matrix trilogy), and he appears not to have realised that there’s a step up to made when helming a feature proper. Put simply, there’s absolutely no meat to this film: the character’s don’t progress or attain any depth, and the tension never builds. Lumbered with a cast list of vaguely remembered faces (Daniel Dae Kim from Lost, Cole Hauser from Tigerland) whose only characteristic is that they cover both sexes, plus a number of ethnicities and nationalities, there’s no communication as to who these people are or what makes them tick. Given the environs in which the film is set, surely it should provide some of the sense of wonder and intrigue which goes into their lifestyles. Yet all we get is a bunch of instantly forgettable people being killed off in manners which we’ve all seen numerous times before.

The Disc

The Cave comes to the UK DVD market looking and sounding fine. Its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 is retained and rendered anamorphically, plus we get its original DD5.1 sound offering. In both cases the presentation is absolutely fine – there’s no damage or dirt to speak of, plus both remain crisp and clear throughout. The only noticeable flaw to the image is the occasional introduction, otherwise it’s quite impression, particularly in its handling of the film’s colour scheme. Oddly, the disc also comes with another soundtrack in the form of a Dolby Surround mix. Given, as said, that The Cave’s original is the DD5.1 mix, it’s difficult to ascertain as to why exactly Entertainment have included it. Certainly, it sounds fine, but it’s also completely unnecessary.

As for extras, here all we find are a pair of featurettes. ‘Into The Cave’ discusses the underwater photography a little over 18 minutes, whilst ‘Designing Evolution’, at 10 minutes, takes us inside Tatopoulos Studios and the design of various creatures. Understandably then, both are on the technical side, though given the participants, the former is by far the more amenable. Of course, neither is too long to outstay its welcome, but as the film itself isn’t particularly interesting it’s also hard to get excited over them. Essentially, they are just your standard DVD featurette, nothing more nothing less.

3 out of 10
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out of 10

Last updated: 19/04/2018 07:03:51

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