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|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir Roland Emmerich|
scr Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser
with Steven Strait, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis, Joel Virgel, Ben Badra, Mo Zinal, Nathanael Baring, Mona Hammond, Marco Khan, Reece Ritchie, Joel Fry, Omar Sharif
release US 7.Mar.08, UK 14.Mar.08
08/US Warner 1h49
Quest for fire: Strait with Belle (above), Curtis and his pet kitty (below).
Emmerich and company clearly had no interest in authenticity when they made this preposterous prehistoric adventure. But it's surprisingly enjoyable rubbish.
In a remote icy mountain range, a young man D'Leh (Strait) is the subject of a prophecy that's about to come true when his beloved Evolet (Belle) is abducted by "four-legged demons" (slave traders on horseback) and he heads off to rescue her. The journey takes him and his surrogate father (Curtis) over mountains, through rainforests and across a vast desert to a pyramid city to find the trader (Badra) who has Evolet. Along the way he befriends both the leader (Virgel) of another tribe and a ferocious sabre-toothed tiger.
Emmerich films this in an epic style, reveling in the gloriously expansive landscapes of his locations in New Zealand, South Africa and Namibia. The story and characters, on the other hand, are utterly preposterous, from Evolet's plucked eyebrows to D'Leh's expertise at first aid. Nothing here rings even remotely true, while the plot itself groans with predictability right up to the corny finale. And there are also disappointments along the way, from the fake-looking backdrops to the underused tiger.
And yet, the film is still thoroughly entertaining. Each boneheaded story point makes us chuckle, as does the simplistic dialog spoken in gruff stage whispers or, in Badra's case, with Chewbacca-like enhancement (he is the senior villain, after all). The digital effects are actually pretty spectacular, including the opening mammoth hunt and the climactic pyramid-building sequences. And Omar Sharif's voiceover narration adds just the right amount of over-serious gravitas.
It's hard to imagine the filmmakers coming up with anything else that would have made this more of a self-parody. It's impossible to take even a moment of the film seriously. But even if the "terror bird" sequence is purely gratuitous and laughably fantastical, it's also genuinely scary. Although the central romance is completely contrived, it's also somewhat touching. And if the baddies are a lazy blend of every movie villain in history, at least they're fairly nasty. Well, within the limits of the hackneyed plot. And even though there's never a hint of either research or gritty realism, it's still good fun.
|Nilesh, India: "What a waste of my money and time! Though i live in India and am a student of filmmaking, surely i can say that its the silliest hollwood movie i have ever seen. I loved Independence day, but this is a hopeless movie. It looks like a childish movie. A total waste of good special effects. No good acting, no expressions, funny costumes, no script, no twist. Laughable words: four-legged demons? Ha ha ha, I am scared! Ships and boats as flying on birds? I wasted my pocket money. Dont loose yours." (23.Mar.08)|
© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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