It seems that a monster-type movie has to be released every couple of months. The plot is simple. There are a group of people, some of whom do not get along. There is some sort of monster. Be it a large alligator in Lake Placid, genetically altered sharks in Deep Blue Sea, or the multitude of other examples present, Hollywood keeps pumping these movies out at a furious rate. Sometime, as in The Relic or Mimic (if you can remember the difference), the movie rises, albeit only a little, above the genre and becomes somewhat enjoyable. More often than not, the movie is a silly exercise you sit through and forget. Bats falls squarely into the latter category.

The monsters this time are, surprise, bats. Not just normal bats, but ones from Indonesia, about the size of foxes. Because of some shady experiments performed on them, they are now super smart and bloodthirsty. The CDC brings in Dr. Sheila Casper (Dina Meyer, Starship Troopers, UPN's Secret Agent Man), the nations foremost expert on bats, and her assistant Jimmy (Leon, Side Streets, Waiting To Exhale). Jimmy is the token black character, who wisecracks his way through the movie. Casper is the serious, dedicated scientist, who does not want to destroy these bats, but to study them. The bats invade the town of Gallup, Texas, the stomping grounds of Sheriff Emmett Kinsey (Lou Diamond Phillips, The Big Hit, Brokedown Palace). Joining them are Dr. Alexander McCabe (Bob Gunton, Patch Adams, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil), who had something to do with the creation of the vicious bats but remains tight-lipped, and Dr. Tobe Hodge (Carlos Jacott, Being John Malkovich, She's All That), a scientist from the CDC. It is up to Casper and Kinsey to stop the bats before the military comes in and bombs the town. The rest of the movie consists of them trying to stop the bats. Oh yeah, and the group gets whittled down along the way.

The problem with Bats is that it tries to take itself seriously. Not helping at all are the special effects. The bat attacks are a blur. Nothing is clear, and the camera jerks violently back and forth, so you cannot see anything. The CGI bats you can see are not very realistic, and the puppet bats used are laughable. Jimmy's expected wise cracks are not even that funny. The rest of the characters attempt their lines with straight faces, with unintentionally funny results. With the exception of a few of the main characters, most of the people seem to developed lower down the evolutionary ladder, as evidenced by their actions. Director Louis Morneau (Made Men) and writer John Logan (also writer of the upcoming Gladiator) do nothing new with this often recycled formula. The only real reason to see this film is if you want to see fake bats getting killed in numerous ways.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 39 minutes, Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of bat attacks and brief language.

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