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Rottweiler (July 10/05)

From director Brian Yuzna (Beyond Re-Animator, The Dentist) comes this futuristic tale of an escaped convict and the cybernetic rottweiler sent to capture him, which essentially plays out like a bizarre riff on The Fugitive (instead of Tommy Lee Jones, there's a vicious robotic dog). The movie is surprisingly entertaining and well-made up to a certain point; once Rottweiler hits the one-hour mark, screenwriter Miguel Tejada-Flores clearly runs out of ideas and the film limps towards its incredibly derivative conclusion (more on that later).

The film is set in the year 2018, where Spain has evidently been bought by a ruthless businessman and is now surrounded by electrical fences on all sides. William Miller stars as Dante, the aforementioned fugitive who - as we learn via flashbacks - was infiltrating Spain's borders with his girlfriend (Irene Montalà) and some others when he was caught by the police. En route to some kind of maximum security institution, Dante escapes and goes on the lam - but soon discovers that he's being pursued by a bounty hunter and his rottweiler (which has been imbued with various upgrades, including steel chompers).

Like Yuzna last film, Beyond Re-Animator, Rottweiler has clearly been shot on the cheap in a foreign country, as evidenced by the multitude of Spanish actors who obviously don't speak any English (their lines have been dubbed in post). But because most of the movie revolves around Dante's escapades, it's easy enough to overlook the less-than-impressive production values (although, having said that, Yuzna does attempt to infuse the film with the occasional burst of style). It's the language barrier, presumably, that's the cause for some seriously bad dialogue (ie "there's enough evil in the world without your breath of evil") and plot developments that don't make a whole lot of sense.

In terms of the latter, there's a completely inexplicable sequence about midway through the film in which Dante encounters a housewife who wastes little time in bedding the half-naked fugitive (thankfully, this is followed up by a wonderfully nasty moment that finds said housewife mauled to death by the rottweiler...in front of her young daughter!) But Tejada-Flores' screenplay skimps on details regarding the context of this future society (ie are other countries also owned by individuals?) and becomes increasingly incoherent as the story progresses (there's an interminable scene towards the end featuring a philosophical conversation between Dante and a dead prison buddy). And then there's the ending, which is a blatant ripoff of The Terminator's most famous sequence - except instead of a big robot emerging from flaming wreckage, it's the endoskeleton of the titular beast (accompanied by some expectedly sub-par special effects).

Stripped of its interminable and irritating third act, there's no doubt that Rottweiler would've been an effective little horror flick. As it is, the film's problems make it impossible to whole-heartedly recommend it - despite some better-than-expected moments in its opening hour.

out of

About the DVD: Maple Pictures presents Rottweiler with a letterboxed transfer, along with trailers, interviews, and behind-the-scenes footage.