Posted in: Disc Reviews by David Annandale on February 17th, 2004
Adventurer Allan Quatermain (Richard Chamberlain) learns that his brother has disappearedin the wilderness of eastern Africa, apparently after having found a city of gold. Abandoningplans for a honeymoon trip to the US (much to the displeasure of shrill fiancée Sharon Stone),Quatermain sets off to find this city. Many perils are encountered along the way, and whenQuatermain and his doughty band find the city, they discover that it is in the tyrannical grip ofevil high pries… Henry Silva.
Chamberlain and Stone here reprise their roles from King Solomon’s Mines, whichitself was the worst version of that story. The hope here, clearly, is to capitalize on the success ofthe Indiana Jones pictures (themselves owing a lot to H. Rider Haggard’s Quatermain novels),and even the music bears an uncomfortable resemblance to the Indiana Jones theme. There isnone of the skill, excitement and wit of the Spielberg films. The model work and special effectswould have been charming in a 1937 serial (though even those quickies usually took care toobscure the wires that heave actors up in the air — not so here). But fifty years on, that quality ofeffects is embarrassing. Even worse are the racial and gender stereotypes, which are just as datedas the effects, and doubly unforgivable. The plot is utter nonsense, but I suppose there is acertain train-wreck fascination in seeing Sharon Stone play a shrieking bimbo and James EarlJones throw dignity to the wind as an axe-wielding Noble Savage. Wretched.
The film’s production values may be eye-rollingly bad, but the 2.0 sound is pretty solid, atleast as far as the music and sound effects are concerned. The environmental effects arethorough, with lots of great jungle noises coming out of the rear speakers. There is some left-right separation, though this aspect isn’t spectacular. The dialogue is a problem, with somedistortion creeping in now and then, and some dreadfully muzzy sound in the early goings.
The colours are fine, with lush greens, fine contrasts and flesh tones, and good blacks. Thereare a couple of grainy shots, but these are the exceptions, rather than the rule. Edge enhancmentisn’t an issue either. The picture is soft, though, and on a number of occasions I found myselfwanting to squint, as if this would bring the actors’ features into focus.
Theatrical trailer. Period, paragraph, end of story.
An utterly dismal adventure, though it generates a certain morbid interest as it flushes itselfdown the toilet.
Special Features List
- Theatrical Trailer