Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace

Does the original trilogy justice in terms of heart, action, and fun —Marty Mapes (review...)

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Part of our coverage of the 27th Denver International Film Festival

Promising moments give way to cliches
Promising moments give way to cliches

If there were a rating system that featured candy, Wilderness Survival for Girls, would get something chewy — Milk Duds or licorice twists, Good ‘N’ Plentys or Big Hunk bars. The kind you gnaw on for a while, melting down gooey hunks, and then forget about until the next arduous foray into the theater. This movie sticks with you no longer than the candy sticks to your teeth.

Wilderness Survival has its moments. Its screenplay reveals a skilled student of people at work; the three girls’ personalities are vivid and mostly consistent despite some hard-to-swallow plot twists. Sexual tensions in several directions add to the suspense of the setup, in which three friends about to graduate from high school get together for a weekend at one of their parents’ plush cabins, get stoned, and freak each other out.

Then things get weird. Their story veers closer to Lord of the Flies anarchy than to the dreamy supernaturalism of a Picnic at Hanging Rock. Cliches rear their big, silly heads too often (ever heard the line, “I can’t believe he’s dead!”?), ultimately leaving you with more of a slasher-film sort of hangover than memories of the fascinating interplay between so-called friends and the secrets they discover amongst themselves.