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FACULTY, THE

SYNOPSIS:
At under-resourced Herrington High School, the football team is the centre of attention leading up to a big game. But when the coach (Robert Patrick), the principal (Bebe Neuwirth) and one of the teachers Mrs. Olsen (Piper Laurie) start acting strangely, suspicions are aroused. Then nerdy whipping boy Casey (Elijah Wood) finds a strange fish-like creature on the field. Casey comes to realise the significance of his find after making gruesome discoveries. He bands together with the cheerleader editor of the school paper Delilah (Jordana Brewster), ex-captain of the football team Stan (Shawn Hatosy), dark loner Stokely (Clea DuVall), enterprising dope dealer Zeke (Josh Harnett) and new girl in town Marybeth (Laura Harris) to fight the menace.

"Two of contemporary cinema’s revisionists, director Robert Rodriguez and writer Kevin Williamson (he wrote Scream), come together to take on the sci-fi genre. Well actually a sci-fi sub-genre, specifically Invasion of the Body Snatchers. In doing so, they also bring a fresh light to that most stale of settings, the local high school. The Faculty is an intelligent take on pop culture, monster movies and sci-fi literature. It also has a strong message about the value of education (and its funding). But don’t let any of that put you off - it’s also a damn-good-fun romp. There’s plenty of action, most of it handled in a "comic-book" way, snappy dialogue and mostly believable characters. The students particularly, although they start out as stock standard "high school flick" characters, are given believability by the script which doesn’t make the mistake of rushing into the monster chase too early. They’re given time to develop before the inevitable happens. The Faculty may take a new riff on sci-fi, but it stays true to the genre. This means there’s some fairly silly running around near the end - but you wouldn’t expect anything else. The special effects are used with restraint but for maximum impact, even if some of the monster scenes look like a mix of Alien and Little Shop of Horrors. The Faculty is a witty deconstruction of sci-fi movies - and a bloody good time at the movies."
David Edwards

"This is another silly monster-aliens-taking-over-the-world film, without panache or originality. There's the obvious Body Snatchers reference combined with Species (complete with a naked alien). Not only obscenely derivative in every way, but it's not even proficiently put together. Rodriguez, whose visual inventiveness was in evidence with From Dusk to Dawn, has made a completely conventional and predictable film, with plodding pace and unexciting set pieces. One has the distinct feeling that Williamson and Rodriguez took the money and ran, without giving thought to making a funny and involving thriller. The cast of largely unknown youths works their way through the film with appropriate stiffness, and since they all look alike, one never has a clue who any of these teen characters are. The older performers at least know how to have fun with the genre, and go along with the silliness; full marks to Bebe Neuwirth and Famke Janssen on this level. The film's cheesy special effects fit in to the lack lustre filmmaking-by-rote approach adopted by Rodriguez. The formula may have worked once; now it's become utterly tiresome. The fact that it's a commercial disappointment in the US means that audiences finally agree that enough is enough. Insulting your audience is not the way to go, and this film is the biggest insult of them all."
Paul Fischer

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0
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TRAILER

SOFCOM MOVIE TIMES

THE FACULTY (M15+)
(US)

CAST: Elijah Wood, Josh Hartnett, Clea DuVall, Laura Harris, Shawn Hatosy, Jordana Brewster, Robert Patrick, Famke Janssen, Bebe Neuwirth, Piper Laurie, Jon Stewart

PRODUCERS: Elizabeth Avellan

DIRECTOR: Robert Rodriguez

SCRIPT: Kevin Williamson (story by David Wechter, Bruce Kimmel)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Enrique Chediak

EDITOR: Robert Rodriguez

MUSIC: Marco Beltrami

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Cary White

RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 11, 1999







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