Saturday, June 06, 2009

Land of the Lost, the movie: a Review

The best thing about the new movie Land of the Lost is the fact that they've been showing the original tv series on SciFi channel, and some episodes can be found on I know... that doesn't say a lot for the movie, does it?

I actually enjoyed the movie, or at least most of it. The video clip above sold me on it: it's brilliant, funny, and well edited... 3 things that the movie itself is a bit short on. The movie had the potential for greatness, and though it does have its moments, somewhere along the line they took what could have been a blockbuster family movie, and decided to dumb it down to a typical potty humour movie we expect from many Saturday Night Live Alumni. Anyone named Jethro who managed to grajiate the 6th grade will love this movie. Will Ferrel fans will probably love this movie. Fans, like me, of the original tv series will like this movie, and go away wishing the creators would have had more consideration for us.

What went wrong? Well, those of us who grew up on this show, and who were heavily influenced by its imagination and creativity, are labeled as Baby Boomers. The Creators of this movie obviously decided to aim this movie at us Boomers, 'adults', and dumbed it down to adult level, and therefore left out the huge potential of the kid market. They also forgot the fact that us 'boomers' love to share our glorious childhoods with our kids, who were deprived of that glory.

On to the review.

The Land of the Lost was a brilliant television show in the 70's that had us kids glued to the tv set every Saturday morning. Although a bit goofy looking back at it, it still stands up as a great show. Hidden within were many messages like 'do your chores' and 'be honest and fair', but that was all subliminal. We loved the dinosaurs, and the lizard people, and even the primitive Pakuni, and all the wonderful weirdness that occured in a pocket universe that can only be accessed through transdimensional portals in time and space. Yeah, that's right... pocket universes, alternate realities and dimensions... advanced physics in a 70's show made for children. And it was great.

The Marshall family... Rick, a Dad who cared for his kids, and taught them the values of self reliance and hard work, and his two kids Will and Holly, who fought all the time, fall into this strange pocket universe and spend several years trying to find their way out. Meanwhile, they explore ancient civilisations, missing links, degenerate lizard people, aliens, alternate and future versions of themselves, and many others passing through the Land of the Lost.

The Movie is loosely based on the show, and pays homage to it. Right off the bat, though, we're dissapointed to learn via the Internet that the original Will and Holly Marshall were in the movie and then cut out at the last minute. Strike one.

Then there's Will Ferrell. Strike Two.

Okay, so I'm not a Will Ferrell fan, and I blame him for whatever faults this movie has. His famous ego, and his 12-year-old-boyish potty humour, dumb this movie down a bit too much. Silliness I can stand, but not stupidity.

I actually watched the Bewitched remake, another tv show turned movie starring Will Ferrel, and enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It was hard to get past his other stuff and watch Bewitched, but I did and was convinced that Ferrel could actually do grown up stuff like Jack Black or Jim Carey before him. Apparently that didn't last. He is actually a good choice for the job, so I have to blame the writers a bit as well, although the parts I did not enjoy seem tailor made for him.

Any writer worth his weight in salt knows that in fiction you need to keep your audience with you. There is about a ten minute segment of the movie that involves a 'trippy' scene in which the three 'men' ingest a hallucinogenic substance and act uncomfortably weird. There seems to be no point to this scene other than a funny moment when a giant crab falls into a steam pit and gets cooked before their hungry eyes. A nice scene for the movie, but the lead up is enough to make you get up and walk out. It's long, pointless, and stupid, and worst of all takes you out of the action except for a brief scene in which Holly wanders off alone and gets captured. Why this smart sensible girl wanders off, alone, in a strange place, is beyond me, and not the best plot element by today's standards.

The actors who played Will and Holly played their parts well. The actor who played the missing link Chakka could have been better. The special effects were downright brilliant, and very convincing. See the video clip above for some great scenery and fantastic dinosaur animation.

The clip shows that with some decent editing the movie could have been better. Personally, though, I think with a different focus this movie could have been awesome. Why ignore the family element of the movie? I mean, even Terminator:Salvation has a line of kid's toys, and I can't imagine anyone taking their kids to see that! As a family movie, you can sell more tickets, have movie tie-in toys at McDonalds, and action figures and books, and oh so much marketing stuff that any kid, and many a grown up, would enjoy. More importantly, though, you could have had a better movie.

In this movie, Rick Marshall is supposed to be a brilliant 'scientist' with multiple disciplines, but for the most part is portrayed as a loser. Somehow he created this amazing device, and convinced Holly that his theories are sound, but this is all very hard to believe. Sure, there are some humorous moments, but why couldn't he be a brilliant scientist and father, who has created an ingenius device but is ridiculed for the subject matter of time travel and multiple dimensions? Why couldn't it be his kids who convince him to try it out and thus get the family stuck in the Land of the Lost. Better yet, the kids could activate the device, and either take him with them, or he has to rescue them. We would then be in a position to explore this 'dumping ground of multiple universes', instead of it just being in the background.

Well, I can go on and on.... obviously. :0) This review is long enough, so I will say go see the movie if you're looking for some summer fun. Keep your expectations low enough, and you'll enjoy the good parts all the better. You may want to keep the kids at home, though... there's a good bit of language and situations that are just not for them.

JOHN :0)

PS I'd love to hear what YOU think. :0)

And you can see the original shows at this link until November 2009


Brian Hughes said...

"The video clip above sold me on it."

I'll have to take your word for that. All I'm getting is a 'Sorry, our movie catalogue cannot be streamed outside the USA' message.

Unknown said...

that just stinks! First I can't watch Doctor Who clips because the UK won't let them out, and now you can't see this awesome movie clip because the UK won't let it in.

And I thought the US and UK were allies! I suppose being next to each other alphabetically just isn't enough anymore...

I'll find the clip on that U tube thingy and send it to ya.

Cheers, JOHN :0)