Movie Review: The Swarm

Where do I bee-gin? One night, years ago, my dad brought home Them!, the classic giant ant movie. A few weeks later he came home with this one about killer bees and we stopped taking it seriously and resorted to riffing it. Last night, I watched this again; I still prefer Them! over this disaster flick.

Killer bees attack people.

I’m not exactly too fond of bees or small flying buzzing things. Back then, you couldn’t convince me to star in this picture. True, the bees had their stingers removed (or most of them anyway) but that wouldn’t be enough.

I’m not a big fan with the editing style found in today’s action/disaster films. Sure, you can communicate the intensity of the situation by cutting quickly to different parts of the scene or even have the camera shake for realism. In exchange, the viewer cannot register those half second edits in the same time that they’re on screen. By the time they do, several edits will have passed and it’s a game of catch up. Here, there’s none of that, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. Yes, you can see the bees attack in slow motion and that works for those scenes. But when we see people hold conversations, there are few, if any, close-up reaction shots of characters in relation to the conversation’s content. It’s all so distant that it’s hard to emote with any of them.

There are some subplots with the town’s residents but they never are resolved as they die by being stung to death or in a fiery train wreck. I never expected them to go anywhere however it’s a poor resolution. Yes, this happens with any drama you can think of but it can be done well. Here, it’s not. There is not enough time to care about them and when that happens, those eight words (nine if you separate the contraction) pop into my head: “I don’t care what happens to these people.”

There are some things still left unexplained. How exactly did Crane know about this? What scientist would perform experiments on their own antidote on themselves without ANY prior testing? How exactly did they get to their final solution? We had no clue, no set-up that the final solution would be the “be all, end all” so why bother? Probably because they had ten minutes left from the 156 running time and something had to happen.

Speaking of running time, the print I watched was the extended unrated cut. The original PG cut is only 116 minutes. Thing is, the extended version is the only one available for home media. Why not release the original?

Considered one of the disasters of 1978 (as in “failure” not “from the disaster genre”), I guess it’s no wonder it bombed at the box office. Even then, it’s in consideration for a remake; hopefully it’ll be better crafted. If you do watch it, do so with friends; it’s more fun that way.

5/10

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