Within the Rock
The ultimate predator... unleashed.
Year of Release: 1996
Genre: Science Fiction/Horror
Running Time: 88 minutes (1:28)
Director: Gary J. Tunnicliffe
Xander Berkeley ... Ryan
Caroline Barclay ... Dr. Dana Shaw
Bradford Tatum ... Cody Harrison
Brian Krause ... Luke Harrison
Barbara Patrick ... Samantha 'Nuke em' Rogers
Michael Zelniker ... Archer
Duane Whitaker ... Potter
Calvin Levels ... Banton
Earl Boen ... Michael Isaacs
Dale Dye ... General Hurst
The ultimate predator...unleashed! The countdown to the end of the world has begun. As a runaway moon hurtles through space on a collision course with Earth, only a small team of interplanetary miners stands in its way. Their mission to alter the moon's course is halted when a fossilized alien is unleashed from its subterranean hibernation. The indestructible creature now stands between them and their determination to save humankind from certain extinction.
Within the Rock, the movie that reminds us that even the best of us can be taken in by scams. "Within the Rock", BAH. That title is flagrant false advertising. I thought this was gonna be a documentary on Dwayne Johnson's appendectomy surgery. The movie industry these days, they'll do anything to make an extra buck. May as well review it anyway. I'll bet you think you know who hates this one. You're thinking anyone that gets butthurt when the same idea gets used twice, aren't ya? Well, yes. They hate it too I guess. But you know who REALLY hates it? Al Gore. Gore really hates it. Tipper won't let him watch it no more, says it angries up his blood to dangerous levels. I'll bet you didn't think Al Gore was even capable of showing emotion. But he is, an I'll tell you why this one gets his hackles up. Not only are these 49ers in space trying to kill what may well be the last of a species, but they're doing it with CO2. Doesn't ANYONE care? Someday Al's just gonna leave an start his own planet, just to be rid of us. Maybe THEN you'll all care. Alrighty, well, you're probably thinking this one's got no new knowledge. Between Alien and Armageddon, you've learned everything you might otherwise have learned from Within the Rock. I can see it's a good thing that I bother with these movies that most of you would refer to as "ripoffs". Were it not for me, you'd probably all be dead by now. First, Earth computers are fully capable of reading programming code from any and all systems the rest of the universe has devised. The fact that they've never been in contact with said systems is irrelevant, and I don't wanna have to bring this up again.
Second, drilling into the core of a planetesimal and setting off a tremendous explosion will not shatter it, as you might expect. Rather, it just changes the object's trajectory. So basically, any alien jokers that wanna take the time to drill into the core of an asteroid an set off charges can wipe us out, just for the lulz. Provided they're good at geometry. An third, in the future, all the best tunes will be widely available on 3.5" floppy disks. But there's something the movie touches on that stands out above the rest. It's something critical to our everyday lives, yet not nearly enough people exercise. Foresight. Now, the angry glopola monster in the movie is a carrion eater. Or for you simpletons out there, he's basically a reverse zombie, if that helps. So he can't eat his vittles till they're good an stanky with maggots swimmin' around in 'em. That takes time. You think it's complicated to plan out a five course meal an have everything finish cooking at just the right time? You haven't got a fuckin' clue. This guy has to plan over a week in advance, an if he doesn't get his main course stuffed in the ground in time? He's stuck goin' hungry. I don't think people have the proper appreciation for the scheduling that goes into the glopola monster's meal preparation. And foresight is hardly something whose usefulness is confined solely to entrees. If people (and governments) practiced even a little foresight in their finances, think where we might be as a society. But no. There's only now, there is no later. Society reeks of self fulfilling prophecy. There may well be no later the way most of these fucksticks think. Or don't think, as it were. So when your tax return comes in the mail, think of the glopola monster, and consider whether you REALLY need that big screen. Or whether having a safety net might be the more rational course of action. You've already bought the big screen. I know. I tried.
The movie begins with Boba Fett trying to force an extremely angry, sentient garbage disposal into a gigantic safe so it'll quit tryin' to eat his face. At least that's what I think was happening. I didn't even know it was possible to use 247 jump cuts within a 20 second span, but they managed it. Eventually, Boba's able to force the sombitch in there with a flaming Q-tip an the credits roll. And by credits roll, I mean, the credits appear in front of the Windows 95 space screen saver. Then we're transported to Earth in the year 2019, where a lady scientist (who appears to have stolen Robert Z'Dar's face) is having a discussion with some big wig military asshole who spends most of his time waving his dick around. She's trying to convince him that blowing the runaway moon that's headed their direction into a zillion pieces may not be the best course of action, but since he's got more stripes on his shoulder than her, it's pretty much a waste of time. The other guy in this sequence seems like he's familiar with the General's reasoning patterns an doesn't bother to interject until he's gone, at which point he explains to the female scientist (Dr. Shaw) that he's got a mining crew setup for her so she can at least try her plan before the General destroys the Earth. The mining crew is to take the Transport Module Shredder uses in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, an drill into the center of the moon so they can setup Seaforium charges an make it spin like a dreidel away from the Earth. It would appear that they were going for the world record for least time spent explaining the plot of an entire movie, and I think they may have set the record. Cause you're pretty much up to speed now. A couple months later, Dr. Shaw is now on the rocket propelled moon, bossing the crew boss around on account of how slow and inept his crew is. Just her luck, the guy from back home sent her a bunch of union workers. The boss (Ryan) tells her he'll talk to 'em about it, but only cause the whole planet'll get crochet balled across the universal lawn if they don't finish in time. An even then it may not do any good. The drilling operation consists of two two-man crews. The guy that sits in a control room an watches, and the guy that does all the work. Otherwise known as any job ever. The current crew, "Alpha", consists of Banton (smart guy) and Cody (the grunt).
Banton pops in the 3.5" floppy disk with Cody's collection of GWAR tracks so he's got something to headbang to while he works an then Archer comes down an he an Banton play the Atari Jaguar while Cody does all the real work. When the shift ends, Banton an Cody head down to the mess hall (they call it that cause there's always so much puke on the floor) to get some leftover meat loaf, while the Beta crew heads out to take their places. The Beta crew consists of Archer (smart guy) an Luke (the grunt that has aspirations of becoming a smart guy). We know Luke's got potential cause he listens to Mozart while he drills. He's also got Archer givin' him pop quizzes about alloys and compositions an... things with molecular structures, cause he's tired of pushin' the heavy drill around for 8 hours a day an wants to make something of himself. Whooptie shit. Unfortunately, the god damn drill runs into the immovable object an Ryan has to call "Nuke 'em" (we'll call her... Duchess) down to change the drill head cause it got all bent up running into the big hard thing. I'll bet they hit Fred Phelps' skull, nothing can penetrate that. So The Duchess fires some self burrowing drill bits into the obstruction an blows a hole in the door an once everyone piles in they realize it's a platinum prison cell. They figure there must be some famous rapper in here an start dismantling it so they can make bank on the platinum, but Dr. Shaw also notices a big nasty fossilized garbage disposal on the wall an takes all kinda pictures so she'll have props when she has a scene where she needs to look analytical. Just disregard that heap of skeletons, too, by the way; I'm sure it's nothing. Then Ryan sexually harasses Dr. Shaw for a while an gets monster drool on his hand when he leans on the wall. Then everybody heads back inside for some more mystery stew, but when the mechanic (Potter) turns off the atmosphere generator the rock monster in the chamber starts melting into a glopola monster an within moments it's ready to go drip spit on Sigourney Weaver's head. Back on board, Ryan says they're gonna go to 10 hour shifts cause he wants to get the platinum outta there before Death Row Records finds out he's got their bling. Banton's outraged cause he's startin' to get sores from his control room chair as it is, an even after he threatens to tell the union, Ryan still over rules him.
Outside, Potter's havin' a look at the guts of the equipment an tellin' Ryan it needs a break. Ryan, like anyone in management, tells Potter it doesn't need a break, an that he just needs to overclock the sombitch so it'll work better. The glopola monster's been watching the exchange an when Ryan leaves, it tries to sneak up on Potter, only Potter's been hearing it make nasty noises an gets outta there before it can sink its teeth into his large white buttocks. Meanwhile, Ryan's noticed The Corpse Vanishes an figures Dr. Shaw just slung the 7' fossilized monster over her shoulder an took it inside an starts the Alpha team drilling again. But within moments the atmosphere generator starts havin' a seizure an sprayin' sparks all over an Cody has to run back inside an snort an entire can of Perri Air. So now they have to drill with oxygen masks while the smart guys work on the machine, but when Banton an Potter open up the machine, the glopola monster opens up Potter's face an by the time it's done it looks like somebody stuck it in the deep fryer for about half an hour. Then the monster grabs ahold of Banton an squeezes 'im til he falls over an fills up his oxygen mask with about few boxes worth of Alka Seltzer foam. Nobody thinks much about it until the glopola monster attacks Luke while he's tryin' to drill an Ryan runs out an starts sprayin' it with bullets. Too bad the glopola monster's wearin' body armor like Clint Eastwood in A Fist Full of Dollars, cause all the bullets just whip around the cavern, eventually striking both Cody and Ryan. Ryan seems like he's had it, but they're able to drag Cody back inside while The Duchess fires off a few more of those self burrowing drill bits into it to buy enough time for everyone to escape while it flops around on the ground like it just licked one of them poisonous toads. This is bad news bears, cause the only people that can work on the machinery have all been munched, squished or shelled into irrelevance. Then Archer notices Dr. Shaw's pictures from the wall of the prison cell have some kind of binary code printed all over 'em, and fortunately, computers are so advanced now that they can read programming languages created by beings no one's ever encountered before. So they get their computer to translate the coding an... we'll we're boned.
Seems the reason the glopola monster returned to life was because it thrives in a nitrogen based environment. An it seems that when they shut down their oxygen generator the lack of oxygen brought it back to life... I guess. So the good news is their fire extinguishers will now function as weapons, because as we learned from Thomas Ian Griffith in Karate Kid III: "If a man can't breathe, he can't fight". It also tells them this thing don't like to eat its vittles till they're good an putrefied, so if they're not completely dead, they have being buried slightly alive to look forward to. An this moon is no moon... it's a space station. That just happened to be real small an developed an outer coating of asteroid as it hurtled through space. The skeletons inside were soldiers that had sacrificed themselves so the monster would smell their rotting bodies (Couldn't they have just dumped a few gallons of Preferred Stock in the chamber? The two things smell about the same) an come runnin'. At this point, they figure if they can't shoot it, maybe they can just have The Duchess rig 'em up some Bomberman-esque explosives an splatter it all over the Enterprise' windshield. So the remaining monster hunters head out lookin' for big stanky, only they forget to look below the soil they're standing on. Classic mistake. No one looks up, no one looks down. So when Luke stops to check on his hair, the monster bursts outta the ground like the world's most pissed off turnip an starts crushin' all his vital organs til Cody's able to get him loose. About that time, The Duchess launches a stainless steel ping pong ball right between the glopola monster's legs an blows his meatballs off. She's pretty proud of herself an goes to take a closer look, only he pulls himself together an uses her self tapping drill bits on her an gives her the ole forehead stigmata. Luke's super bummed cause he wanted to be the one to drill her, an he takes a pick axe to the big bastard, only (watched this scene twice, still don't get it) he seems to have confused himself for the monster an pretty quick his oxygen mask fills up with Old El Paso Enchilada Sauce. So at this point, things would have to improve quite a bit to attain "looking down" status, an Archer, Cody an Dr. Shaw realize their only shot is to set the charges an try to blast off before the glopola monster can chomp down on their jugulars an bury 'em up to their necks in the sand.
Alrighty, well what we've got here, as I mentioned earlier, is what would happen if you stuck Alien and Armageddon in a metaphorical blender. Do not put Alien and/or Armageddon in an actual blender, as it may decrease the blender's overall functionality. But to be fair, Within the Rock predates Armageddon by two years. So anyone screaming Armageddon rip off is just trying to ensure nobody takes them seriously. Alien, you can't argue so much. But I really don't mind these movies where they use other concepts, as I've mentioned a few hundred times before. The movie's problems are not caused by the fact that it's not the first movie to use some of these concepts. It really isn't even that bad of a movie. Granted, it's not good enough for Alien to wipe its ass on, but Alien is an amazing movie with a great cast, large budget, and Ridley Scott. I think the main reason people are gonna harp on this movie is the same reason so many people harp on Signs. In Signs, the aliens are destroyed by water. In this movie, it's destroyed (or at least incapacitated to the point that it goes dormant) by oxygen. Two extremely common elements in the universe. People can't suspend their disbelief, and end up hating the movies. It's actually pretty interesting to see where people will draw that line. Some people hate anything that even tries to stretch the boundaries of the known. Some people have no line at all. Obviously, most people are going to be in between, but where the majority of the audience falls can break any movie if it goes past their collective line. Perhaps people were so harsh on Signs because, otherwise, they liked the movie. I know that for me, disappointment is a hard thing to deal with. Sometimes a movie is going so well that when it does something you didn't expect (and didn't like) it ruins the movie for them. It causes them to completely forget about all the things they were enjoying up to that point an they give it the death penalty, where it may only deserve a week in jail and 100 hours community service. Within the Rock probably wouldn't have that problem so much because it has several other smaller flaws, including some bad acting/dialog near the beginning of the movie, insane jump cuts right outta the shoot, and the fact that it doesn't seem like setting off charges in the core of a planetesimal is going to do anything positive. But Within the Rock has the advantage of low expectations, and I think that's what destroys the reputations of a lot of other movies. *They* were supposed to be *good*.
Onward, to the detailed dissection. These dissections probably don't seem all that detailed when you consider how long the plot summaries are, do they? Ah well. The plot isn't too bad. Once you figure out the runaway moon isn't a moon at all, that helps. Although if you're going to deduct points for the plausibility of whether or not the plot should work (and honestly, I think you have to), that'll cost it some points. It has a certain level of what is undeniably nonsense, but it's not crippling nonsense. The acting, with the exception of the opening exposition sequence with Barclay, Boen and Dye, is okay. I have no idea what went so wrong with the acting on that one particular scene but it's just terrible. Did they really watch the dailies an think "well, that doesn't need another take"? Cause it needed another take, in a bad way. Otherwise, there really wasn't anything else wrong with the acting. Not surprisingly, nobody fantastically famous, but here are the cast members worth mentioning and my reasoning for doing so: Xander Berkeley (Roswell, The Attack of the 50' Woman 1993, Candyman, The Guardian), Caroline Barclay (Species, Candyman 2, American Gothic) Brian Krause (Camel Spiders, Beyond Loch Ness, Return to the Cabin by the Lake, Sleepwalkers), Michael Zelniker (Rats, Naked Lunch), Duane Whitaker (Children of the Corn: Genesis, Halloween II 2009, Trailer Park of Terror, Feast, The Devil's Rejects, From Dusk Till Dawn 2, Night of the Scarecrow, Tales from the Hood, Puppet Master V, Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, Hobgoblins), Calvin Levels (The Chair), Earl Boen (The Dentist, Chopper Chicks in Zombietown, Alien Nation) and Dale Dye (Invaders from Mars 1986). People with bad taste will probably recognize Brian Krause from Charmed. I think a lot of the movie's problems are made clear when you understand the director was generally a special effects guy. Though not *completely* clear when you remember that Tom Savini directed the amazing Night of the Living Dead remake. The shooting locations, which, for this movie would be nothing but sets I suppose, are adequate. The big hole in a rusty dusty planetesimal looks believable enough. The soundtrack is actually pretty good, the rock tunes that play while Bradford Tatum is workin' in a coal mine are pretty cool. The atmospheric music is sufficient, if not particularly memorable. An overall plus, but nothing extraordinarily. And lastly, would be the special effects. Not bad. I've seen the suit referred to as rubbery, but I think they always cut away before it becomes terribly apparent. The other effects, melted face, dripping goo, mouth foam, and general bloodiness are adequate. In the end, it's perfectly watchable, if mediocre. If mediocrity offends you, watch Alien for the 5th time. If you'd like something new, give it a chance.