Director: Joe Knee
Cast: Corin Nemic, Dominika Juillet, Nikolette Noel, Benjamin Easterday, Gildon Roland
Plot: A scientist (Juillet) treks into a restricted jungle, escorted by a military unit to find her father, unaware that mutated wasps rule the skies.
Just when I thought I had seen it all, this title pops up on iTunes.
Dragon Wasps are today’s result of a mutation experiment gone wrong. Refreshingly you never see the scientists behind the mishap; we just deal with the victims caught up in the aftermath. An entomologist goes off in search of her father, the evidence leading her to a military-controlled zone, where Corin Nemic’s cynical commander protects the borders from drug-runners and terrorists. Reluctantly, they agree to help her find the missing father in the jungle, but they come under attack from infamous cocaine supplier, Jaguar. After a shoot-out on the road, it becomes clear that the two of them share a common enemy. Mutated wasps that have the ability to breathe napalm are taking stragglers to their hive, where they plant eggs into their victim’s brains. The group of heroes realise the only way to take them down are to plant C4 into the centre of their lair and hope that the napalm in their bodies will be enough to create a chain reaction of explosions, ridding the jungle of these fire-breathing insects.
Most B Movies I have watched jump around too much. They reel off a massive amount of supporting characters and jump between subplots, while the bigger story evolves in the background. It helps make up excuses to write in red shirts, created merely for a bloody death later on. The upside to this is that the script doesn’t need to hold a certain stretch of dialogue for a long time, because scenes are cut too short to make any bad acting or writing overly painful. The downside to this is that those movies have always seemed like a messy splash of cheesy B Movie mania. Dragon Wasps actually has a lot more focus. True, this does mean we have to deal with longer scenes with ropey dialogue, but it means that the story evolves gradually. The characters have a small room to develop (ok, not develop, but have long enough screen time to help us get attached to them). As the characters progress through the jungle, we are not jumping away to a random character for little reason, so the movie feels appropriately paced.
Sadly, for a movie that promises a lot of dragon wasps, we actually see very little of the movie’s monster. Usually I would applaud this, as less is more with this genre. However, the absence of the wasps are not for tension purposes. Again, scene one involves the Dragon Wasps bursting onto our screens and killing extras instantly. No, the story seems to keep forgetting they are there, almost as if it is embarrassed by their own premise. Even when the wasps are on-screen, they are background noise, drifting in sight, as if they were copied and pasted onto the backdrop of the scene. The movie focuses more on the characters getting from point A to B, talking about the wasps a lot, but never really fighting them, even when it comes to the messy conclusion. There is also a prolonged, dull middle act, where the team hide out in their enemies’ base (stupidly putting everyone in danger!). You see, Jaguar the drug dealer, isn’t just a dealer, but the leader of a voodoo tribe. We spend far too long, exploring his culture, which just stretches out what should have been a simple plot point. Yes, a human enemy does help with this sort of film, especially when the movie tries to avoid its main villain, the wasps, but Jaguar’s tribe is dull to spend time with and brings the movie to a halt. If I got bored with it, I imagine B Movie fans would have as well. There is a worthwhile moment, when the leads realise that the wasps are repelled by the smell of cocaine leaves, so they end up getting high for the final third of the movie. Maybe the audience should consider this option, before taking on Dragon Wasps.
Final Verdict: I like the focus on character, but the rest of the movie is the same B Movie mess. Skip it.