Reel Geek Review: Spectral


When you’re an actor, or a writer, you never know at first where your film is going to end up.  Such as the case for Spectral, which was filmed in 2014 by Universal/Legendary for a theatrical release.  But by mid 2016, the studio decided against a big release, opting to sell it to Netflix instead, marketing the film as a ‘Netflix Original’, which has a pretty high quality mark for a project these days.  It’s like the opposite of a ‘Syfy Channel Original’, you trust that you’re going to get at least a decent movie.  Is that the case this time though?

Spectral stars James Badge Dale (Iron Man 3) as a scientist named Mark  Clyne, who is informed by his supervisor that he’s going on assignment to the Eastern European country of Moldova, to assist the military in their efforts fighting a war over there with his special goggles that he invented.  After arriving, he meets with General Orland (Bruce Greenwood-Star Trek) and CIA officer Fran Madison (Emily Mortimer-Shutter Island)  and is shown what they’re up against, a translucent, spectral humanoid form that has been killing the Delta Force soldiers instantly.    Soon after, the group is beset by a large quantity of these creatures, and it’s up to them to figure out what these things are, and how they can stop them before they’re all wiped out by these spectral figures.

After watching this movie, I can see why they decided to hold off on giving this movie a big theatrical release,  it’s a decent movie, and I’ve seen worse get put out on the big screen, but there’s something missing from this movie that I can’t quite place.    Well, I can place a few obvious flaws in this movie.  For one, you don’t really get any character development, or reason to care about any of these people.  The Delta Force soldiers that accompany Mark and Fran are as nameless, interchangeable, and forgettable as the ghostly creatures they’re fighting.    So, when we see numbers of them getting taken out by these things, we, as the audience, feel nothing, because we don’t know who these people are, or why we should care about them.

This movie would really have been better off as a video game really, where you can get away in some cases with weak characterization and just focus on the action.  As a survival horror game, this would be really interesting, especially as there’s only certain ways that the monsters can be seen, let alone stopped or killed, as the story progresses.  But as a film, an audience needs more than just action and slow parts.

The movie also fell under another flaw of filmmaking which I mentioned in my Resident Evil review yesterday.  Just because a scene is in a dark environment doesn’t mean that it actually has to be nigh impossible to see what’s going on.  There’s like whole scenes of conversation between characters that I couldn’t see who was talking to who, which was a real problem for me.

I’ll say that the action scenes are pretty interesting, and there’s a pretty neat twist with the monsters as the movie goes on, but this movie could very well have been a SyFy Channel Original were it not for a few name actors in this thing.    All in all, there are worse movies out there, but there’s a lot better movies too, don’t watch unless you’re either really bored.

Final Grade- D

Spectral is streaming now on Netflix.


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