When the residents of the Bao Tao Island are attacked by ants, the government hires the Thorax Company to work with the army to exterminate the ants. The scientist Len and his friend Bill are attacked by a swarm and lose communication with Debs that is recording from the base. One ant enters into Bill's ear and reaches his brain, affecting his behavior. The scientist Claire arrives in the island and team-up with Len, and soon they discover that the ants can communicate and they want the island for them.
Directed by: Peter Manus
. Starring: Tom Wopat
, Kal Weber
, Elizabeth Healey
, Jessica Reavis
, Mark Ramsey
, Pisek Intrakanchit
, Kittiphit Tamrongweenijchai
, Elizabeth Bodner
, Chalad Na Songkhla
, Sujinthara Phumjan
, Dorrie Salmon
, Matthew Boylan
. Music by: Charles Olins
, Mark Ryder
I've liked movies about rampaging army ants ever since seeing Charleston Heston chewing the scenery in 1954's "The Naked Jungle." So I knew I'd have to check out "The Hive" on Sci-Fi (or SyFy, whatever they are this week.) This being the Sci Fi channel, I knew not to expect much in the way of special effects, and was not disappointed. The effects were, as usual, terrible, and the acting was only a small step better. Kal Weber stars as a cut-rate Keanu Reeves, Eizabeth Healey is annoying as the inevitable too-earnest scientist love interest, and Tom Wopat of "The Dukes of Hazard," now so grizzled that he was completely unrecognizable, twitches and jerks as the world's most macho exterminator.
But as I said, all that was to be expected of a Sci-Fi original; if you can't take that, you need to look elsewhere on a Saturday night, because bad acting and effects are a given on that network's home-grown films.
Where "The Hive" improves over most of their flicks was in the story. The idea of an ants as individual cells in a larger brain, so that the colony can become self-aware and even sentient, is pretty novel, and was fairly well-handled. This revelation followed closely on the discovery that the ants had developed new physical tricks like working together to form huge tentacles. These tentacles could have been overdone (and later were) but were very effective in a couple of surprisingly subdued scenes; a field of writhing giant ant tentacles (which might have been expected to attack but instead were shown just looming ominously) was satisfyingly creepy. Coupled with a pretty cool ant-zapping ray gun, fairly plausible environmental suits for the exterminator special forces team, and some good location shots and it's enough to keep me watching (if there's nothing better on.)
Now, the gripes. First off, while bees come in hives, ants form colonies, so the whole title is wrong. Secondly, people who use the words "telemetry" and "species" in daily life would likely know how to pronounce them, not as "teleMETry" or "spee-shees." The subplot of Bill (Wopat) having an ant in his ear biting down every now and then to access his nervous system seemed to be forgotten; after all the foreshadowing I kept expecting the ants to exercise some kind of control, but the only effect was for Bill to drop into an occasional stupor or jerk like a dog with a shock collar, both of which were well within Wopat's acting abilities. The native Thai extras (only a little less talented than the main cast) were used in two ways: to walk past the camera or to run in terror past the camera. In both cases they looked mainly bored, and a little embarrassed.
Finally (and worst of all) the writers seemed in the end to not know what to do with their promising storyline. The gradual revelation of the ants' physical and mental abilities was pretty effectively done (and who could have resisted having the ants form a giant ant that stamps on a human?) but the ant-based computer pushed even my generous BS limit. The final reveal (that the whole thing was caused by aliens) was just a let-down.
Overall, "The Hive" isn't great cinema, but it's worth a look, if just for the schlock factor. It's definitely one of the better of the Sci-Fi originals (talk about a low standard!) Keep your expectations realistic, and you won't be too disappointed.
Review by NavyOrion from the Internet Movie Database.