Friday, February 6, 2009

THE OBJECTIVE: Myrick's new movie provides yet another distribution variation




Combining horror, fantasy and sci-fi tropes with our current "war on terror" in Afghanistan might sound a bit problematic, movie-wise, and indeed proves just so for Daniel Myrick in his sixth film over the past decade. (It's hard to believe that The Blair Witch Project happened ten years ago.) Still, Myrick's new one, THE OBJECTIVE, is his most satisfying film so far -- even if it finally proves something of a let-down after ratcheting up a fair degree of suspense and mystery along the way.

A CIA operative joins a platoon of U.S. soldiers (and one from Australia's "Coalition of the Willing") in the Afghan desert, in an effort to locate the source of a top-secret something-or-other that looks like it might be nuclear. Havoc, as you might expect, ensues. However, it comes at such odd times and in some peculiar ways that viewer interest doesn't easily flag. Also, the soldiers are depicted with enough characterization to humanize them a bit. Special effects are kept to a minimum (as was, most probably, the budget) but they provide what is called for. And the interesting combination of filmed footage with the "video footage" that the CIA man is constantly shooting makes for a strange, sometimes scary juxtaposition (the fine cinematography's by Stephanie Martin).

Jonas Ball in THE OBJECTIVE. Photos above/below by Jeremy Wall.

The cast is good and the writing (by Mryick, Mark A. Patton and Wesley Clark Jr.) serviceable, if not inspired. But finally The Objective is one of those movies that raises more questions than it cares to answer. And since it is not in the least about something important or meaningful, this refusal to own up seems more of a cop-out than anything else. Also, the combination of a "Close Encounters"-type, bright-light UFO with the "hot," energy-based (supposedly spiritual?) inverted triangle "Vimanas" seems an odd and unnecessary mix. (I hate to sound like Sesame Street, but one of these things is not like the other.)

Myrick's movie is still an improvement, to my mind, over the internet-driven disappointment of Blair Witch, the promising-but-fails-to-deliver Believers, and the all-round tiresome Solstice. Yet what may be most unusual about The Objective is its release schedule: a coupling of On-Demand, at-home viewing with a (very small) theatrical release: at NYC's IFC Center -- for midnight screenings only -- tonight, Friday, 2/6 and tomorrow, Saturday, 2/3, then in L.A. at one theatre starting March 13. (More cities and venues may be added.)

Chems-Eddine Zinoune plays guide in THE OBJECTIVE.

As Video-on-Demand (VOD) slowly becomes more popular, it should eventually be possible for a small, independent genre movie like Myrick's to find its audience more easily than ever before. The thinking on the street just now is that VOD will, sooner than later, become a much bigger factor in the route that future audiences use to find their way to a new film. With more and more wide-screen TVs in homes, distribution arms like IFC (which has this particular movie) trying out various release patterns, Netflix streaming via its own (and others') black box, the means by which we can now watch a new movie is legion. IFC, in fact, has just announced that it will be picking up a half dozen new movies per month for release via VOD. These are films that have made a fuss at various festivals and yet seem too chancy for a typical theatrical release: for instance, the new Nazi zombie (finally--the two genres meet!) Dead Snow that no one could quite figure how what to do with. Well, leave it to IFC.

Now that so many of us are -- or soon will be -- unemployed, think how much more time we'll all have for movie-watching. As long as those films are somehow kept very affordable....

2 comments:

rohit said...

The objective movie is a thrilling movie and a war movie about a group of soldiers . This movie is very interesting.... while i watched this movie ,I enjoyed the movie very much.....

James van Maanen, said...

Hmmm.... Another marketing ploy. If you click on "rohit," you'll be taken to a site where you can download The Objective -- and other films. No money was mentioned here, but maybe I didn't click again, in order to get to the "money" point. Or maybe it's all free. Your move, reader...