Virus (1999)

Every movie is somebody’s least favorite movie. That’s just the law of averages, in my mind. I can look up just about any movie generally regarded as “good” or “a classic” and find 1 star reviews saying it’s boring, or just sucks. But while most people can safely ignore idontknowiknowthatidontknow’s review of The Shawshank Redemption, “if this film is #2 of all time, then i am Jesus Christ returning to burn this trash,” big names saying they hate a movie they actually were in is worth noticing. Case in point, Mrs. Jamie Lee Curtis has said on multiple occasions that Virus is the worst movie she’s ever been in, which is a bold claim to make about a fairly okay movie.

After surviving a typhoon, the crew of a tugboat come across an abandoned Russian government research vessel with hallways covered in blood. Captain Donald Sutherland–they all have character names, but who cares–decides to scavenge it, because his entire character can be summed up as “a complete psycho who makes every possible wrong decision.” In his crew are Jamie Lee Curtis, Billy Baldwin, and Cliff Curtis (AKA Searle, the guy obsessed with the sun in Sunshine). But death awaits them, as the vessel was mostly abandoned after a sentient alien energy cloud got zapped from a space station to the ship, where it began dissecting the Russian crew and creating half-man, half-machine monstrosities. Sutherland suffers a mutiny and then offers himself to the machine intelligence by saying he’s the dominant species of Earth. Again, he’s a complete psycho who makes every possible wrong decision, and he of course becomes a short-lived undead cyborg. In the end the research vessel is blown up and sunk with Curtis and Baldwin as the only survivors. There’s a jump scare right at the end, but that was a dream so whatever, the day is saved and the movie’s over.

This is Jamie Lee Curtis’ worst movie ever? Really? Even worse than Beverly Hills Chihuahua? I found it to be a fairly decent movie–nothing exciting, but far from the worst things I’ve seen. The cybernetic flesh golems looked absolutely disgusting, and I mean that as a compliment. The alien intelligence had scoured the available databases to learn about Earth and humans, and it’s clear that it still didn’t understand the differences between “this person is alive” and “this is a robot zombie without a head.” It believed humans to be a virus–hey, it’s the title–so I’m going to assume it read the same encyclopedia that Leeloo read in The Fifth Element.

But sure, the movie was also kind of dumb. I have absolutely no idea what accent Donald Sutherland was trying to do, only that he didn’t succeed. The captain was a deranged psycho for seemingly no reason–something about a dead family member that we only know about due to a scene about an aborted suicide attempt. But no one can claim that the man didn’t have fun absolutely chowing down on the scenery. He’s the secondary antagonist and should never have been allowed to command a shopping cart let alone a ship, but everything he did was so over the top so it wrapped back around to enjoyable.

Sorry, Mrs. Curtis. I absolutely respect you (and would question everything if it were revealed you were an awful person), but this is not that bad a movie. It’s not great, but I’m convinced you’ve been in worse since this.

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