"WASPs" versus Japanese soldiers versus pterodactyls? Yes please!

Yet, is this Scifi Channel original TV movie more than just high concept trash? Hit the jump to find out:

Warbirds has developed a cult reputation as "that World War II fighter planes vs pterodactyls flick" that belittles its TV movie status. Starring Charmed refugee Brian Krause and no-one else of note, the low-budget quality of the film is counterpoint to some high-concept ideas.

At the height of the Second World War, a group of female volunteers fly a small team of soldiers in a B52 on a secret mission, only to find themselves knocked out of the sky by a shadowy creature. Crash landing on an island, the group happen across some Japanese soldiers on the verge of starvation, they are told that the soldiers had discovered a hidden cave that housed a dozen strange eggs, from which hatched what may or may not be pterodactyls.

Along the way, we are treated to an impassioned discussion of the rights and wrongs of atomic weapons, racial tolerance and military discipline. There are some reasonable performances, particularly from Krause and astoundingly-pretty unknown Jamie Elle Mann, only undermined by a determination to take this dross so seriously.

On the other hand, no attempt is ever made to explain how the flying terrors got there, nor ever confirm that they are dinosaurs, leaving an air of 'just go with it', which works fine. The dialogue varies from passable to completely ridiculous, while the effects are even fairly reasonable...

Until the planes take off...

While the pterodactyls actually look quite good, the aerial effects are something you'd expect from a 1990s flight simulator game. Thankfully, this doesn't serve to undermine some acceptably-tense dogfights.

For a while, you feel the film could end quite reasonably, until it becomes little more than a string of elaborate setpieces designed purely to kill off a series of under-developed characters one by one in increasingly-improbable ways. One character is put in an impossible-to-survive position and assumed dead, only to turn up to save the day later, then be immediately killed off. Then there's that ending, which is such jaw-dropping, insane overkill you'll find it hard to believe.

Nevertheless, this is an enjoyable-enough monster movie with an original flavour, some lovely 50s-style ladies (as one of the GIs notes: "cute and sweet and good to... uh... sorry") and a marginal intelligence level. Worth a shot.

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