Eve of Destruction Blu-ray Review
Directed by Duncan Gibbins
Written by Duncan Gibbins and Yale Udoff
1991, Region A, 100 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on November 19th, 2013
Gregory Hines as Col. Jim McQuade
Renee Soutendijk as Dr. Eve Simmons/ Eve VIII
Michael Greene as General Curtis
Kurt Fuller as Bill Schneider
Kevin McCarthy as William Simmons
Dr. Eve Simmons heads a state-of-the-art cybernetic laboratory that is creating a top-secret military weapon capable of reshaping global warfare. A lifelike android that shares the good doctor's looks and mannerisms is being field tested when something goes horribly wrong and the scientists lose all communication with the project. Eve VIII, as it is known, has an agenda and soon dead bodies are turning up around California.
The government must rely on the skills of Col. Jim McQuade, the best counter-terrorism expert in the field. He is instructed to apprehend the target with extreme caution since it is killing anything she perceives as a threat. Using the good doctor's insight into the killbot's motives, McQuade pursues his nemesis to the opposite coast even though New York has a highly-trained police force that can be reached by telephone at any hour of the day or night. Luckily, our hero knows just how to track a killer in any city filled with millions of people, because it is up to him to save America.
In 1991, two “killer robot on the loose” movies were released within months of one another. Eve of Destruction and the somewhat lesser known Terminator 2: Judgement Day. One starred the attractive Dutch actress Renee Soutendijk (Spetters) and the other featured some Austrian guy made of muscles. Both performers had recently worked for director Paul Verhoven (The 4th Man, Total Recall), a man quite familiar with the popular urban-robot subgenre, having created the spectacular Robocop (1987). James Cameron changed the genre completely with his Schwarzenegger sequel, while Eve borrows liberally from The Terminator (1984), Lady Terminator (1989) and countless other action movies of the 1980s. This determination to simply repeat what has come before is precisely what makes Eve of Destruction so much fun.
Audiences love familiarity and Hollywood loves to recycle ideas, so if Dark Angel explored the concept of mixing aliens into the aging buddy cop film formula, then Eve plunders every '80s renegade cop cliché and adds a dash of sci-fi goofiness that never really earns its place within the script. Director Duncan Gibbins (Fire with Fire) has seen a lot of movies and knows how to make the characters look tough, but the screenplay co-written by Gibbins and Yale Udoff is merely a patchwork of ideas liberated from better movies. The central concept is cool and the action is well-staged, but the script is a real dud, complete with clever quips that, though they may elicit a chuckle, are seldom satisfying.
Renee Soutendijk is both likeable as the good doctor and menacing as the dopplegänger evil robot. The plot occasionally gets in the way of the story, as evidenced by a particularly cringe-worthy sequence where the machine is switched into attack mode and uses this rage to go on a joyous shopping spree. Soutendijk handles the material nicely and emerges generally unscathed. Gregory Hines (Wolfen) on the other hand, never really clicks in the role of military hotshot McQuade. Hines was an awesome dancer, as witnessed in films like White Nights and The Cotton Club, and had nice comic timing in History of the World Part 1, but “action hero” is a bit out of his reach, at least in this film. It is hard to point to a specific flaw, since he brings both action and comedy, but he manages to look sleepy most of the time.
Gibbins and Hines both died many years too early, but each managed to find success in the industry. Eve of Destruction is a love letter to dumb action movies and is definitely worth watching with friends. Horror fans will want to be on the lookout for an unbilled third-act cameo from legendary genre vet Kevin McCarthy (Invasion of the Body Snatchers). The finale is pretty cool, although a bit silly...but the same thing can be said for the rest of the picture too, and that's a compliment.
Video and Audio:
The film is presented in the original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, a first for domestic releases and while not picture-perfect, the print is in decent shape. There a few nicks, dings and occasional spots of dirt, but this is the best the movie has looked in years. Colors are well saturated and black levels are solid.
The default DTS-HD MA 2.0 track offers an impressive sound mix that comes alive during the frequent action sequences. Dialogue remains clear and free of distortion and bass levels are surprisingly deep.
The original trailer is the only extra feature included.
Want to comment on this review? You can leave one below or head over to the HorrorTalk Review Forum.