The beginning of this movie was actually quite well done for a
thriller. Deductive reasoning, followed by a fairly intelligent
follow-up. Unfortunately, with an hour left in the movie, it
degenerates into a chase and jump thriller.
A man from the Chicago Museum of Natural History was doing some
research in Brazil, where he encountered some sort of mutant. He
sends a relic back to Chicago, and some fungus-covered leaves in another
box. The staff thinks the leaves are packing material, until an insect
eats some of the fungus, and becomes huge, and mutates into a half lizard.
Of course, there is a murder in the museum that shuts it down
right before a big gala. The main character, a scientist who is about
to lose her grant, but is not planning something extreme to get it back
(surprise there!), becomes a suspect, but soon becomes the lieutenant's
The first part of the movie is interesting, because they don't
even know that there is a mystery with the fungus leaves. They are
searching for a human murderer, not knowing yet that the fungus is even
part of the plot.
Once it does become apparent that the murderer is not human,
the gala is of course in full swing, with all the rich and important people
dressed for a night full of "superstition".
The monster is quite well done effects-wise. But otherwise,
there is a lot of running through tunnels, people being dragged underwater
screaming, and ceilings falling onto people's heads.
I still can't figure out why the lieutenant tried to bait the
monster, then runs out of the way and abandons it immediately. Or
why the people who went on the dangerous underground escape arrived outside
at the same time as the people who didn't, and were rescued by police from
outside. Also, the monster appeared to be able to navigate between
the upper and lower levels of the museum very easily. Maybe it discovered
some back routes, but it appeared to be terrorizing both areas at the same
The ending was pretty neat, from a scientist's point of view,
though I doubt anyone without a chemical background could understand just
exactly how she started the fire. Spilling just about every
chemical in the lab onto the floor, she picks up what I have to assume
is either sodium (which is combustible when mixed with water), or some
other hypergolic chemical. Either way, it was neat, but not explained
There was, of course, an unrealistic part to that climax.
The monster seemed to be gaining on the scientist in every scene, but she
somehow managed to stay ahead of it all the time. The monster was traveling
straight, and she was knocking over jars and shelves, opening
containers, and gathering her hypergolic chemicals. Hmmm. Ah well.
All in all, entertaining and engaging at first, with a middle
that is typical of the genre, and a neat, scientifically-explainable climax.