This fantasy adventure centers on dinosaurs discovered in the modern world, this time in a remote part of Mongolia during the 1930s. Apparently the ancient creatures were flash-frozen millions of years ago and then thawed out. The late explorer Dr.George Challenger discovered them. Now his daughter, a journalist, an aging scientist, and a villain team up to prove Dr Challenger's findings. During their journey, the team encounters many fantastical things, including a tribe of Neanderthals.
Directed by: Bob Keen
. Starring: Patrick Bergin
, Jayne Heitmeyer
, Julian Casey
, David Nerman
, Michael Sinelnikoff
, Gregoriane Minot Payeur
, Jack Langedijk
, Russell Yuen
, James Bradford
, Jacques Lessard
, Martin Sims
, Goûchy Boy
, Michael Gurman
. Music by: Milan Kymlicka
I believe that this film was made for cable television as a "pilot" episode. It was shot using medium-budget special effects, contains no nudity or profanity, and the scenes are conveniently spaced for commercials. Still, its a pretty fair jungle adventure film about 5 turn-of-the-century explorers who go into an unexplored jungle to document proof that dinosaurs exist in a remote part of the world. It has dinosaurs (but none too scary), scientists with elephant guns, and a jungle girl. Fun for the whole family.
Jennifer O'Dell is the best reason to see the movie (and now its television series). She does a good job playing "Veronica", a blonde-haired, blue-eyed jungle girl that the scientists discover as they search for dinosaurs. She's a fair enough actress and looks good in the 2-piece leather costume - kudos to the costume designer who developed an attractive jungle outfit that's also practical. She plays her character as a tough, athletic, jungle-smart warrior/hunter who befriends the scientists and who frequently must help them understand the dangers of the Lost World. In the movie she battles ape creatures that attack the scientists' campsite, angry natives, and dinosaurs. In a recent episode of the series, she led them to a witch doctor who told them how to find a vaccine for a bee sting that threatened to kill Dr.Summerlee. To get the vaccine, the group had to kill a giant prehistoric bee and smear themselves with its innards. So Veronica killed the giant insect in hand to hand combat, since they couldn't use guns for fear of attracting the attention of the rest of the hive. A girl of action is good for ratings, and Jennifer O'Dell is definitely a girl of action. In fact, I think she has a good future playing similar characters, such as amazon warriors (hello, "Xena"), barbarian women (maybe she'll replace Lana Clarkson as the title character in a "Barbarian Queen 3" or do a "Conan" film someday) and lifeguards (guest spot on "Baywatch Hawaii" eventually?).
Another interesting character is "Margarite Krux", played by Rachel Blakely. Originally intended to be a suffragist photographer according to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's book, in this film and the ensuing series the character has a medical background and is frequently called upon to nurse injured members of the party. In the movie, she helps Veronica recover from a head wound incurred while fighting marauding ape creatures. Krux also provides an element of human weakness to the group - she's willing to surrender the injured Veronica to the local natives if they'll show her how to escape from the Lost World. In another scene in the movie she reaches for precious gemstones which accidentally causes the escape tunnel to collapse on the explorers. But its hard to hate her, because she does have moments of compassion and empathy, and because she has those piercing blue eyes that television loves so much.
The male characters are cut from typical stereotypes: "Dr.Challenger" is the Charlton Heston-esque adventurer, "Dr.Summerlee" is the dowdy, bookish professor who sees the world as a giant laboratory, and "Ned Malone" is the American newspaper reporter who went on the expedition because he was looking for a big adventure (and who provides a convenient love-interest in the movie). Peter McCauley, Michael Sinelnikoff, and David Orth do a pretty good job with their characters (respectively) and the whole cast in general works well together. With most tv series, it takes awhile for the actors to become comfortable with their characters and with interacting with the other actors' characters, but in the movie and tv show (because the characters are somewhat 2-dimensional) the "break-in" period is shorter.
But all is not well in this jungle paradise of a film. The supporting characters, and the actors that play them, are extremely weak and uninteresting. And I have a hard time believing that our group of European explorers would tromp around a tropical rainforest wearing long overcoats, thick pants, and heavy leather boots. I would think that after a few days in the bush, the adventurers would "go native" and lose some of the clothing and gear. A particular beneficiary of the "less clothing" policy would be Rachel Blakely, who wears a long duster coat, jodpuhrs, and riding boots that might be fine for the upper highlands of Austria, but in a lush rainforest its gotta be uncomfortable. The male characters usually wear thinner shirts and vests but they'd still be hot in a tropical environment. Ain't no way I'd go into the swamps of my home state dressed like that, and I don't think fictitious explorers would either.
Next, I'd reconsider using dinosaurs as a major plot point. Sure, its one thing if the scientists are looking for them, but its another if we keep seeing fake-looking dinosaurs every time we turn around. Better special effects used less often would only improve the film.
Missing from the tv series is the native girl (whom I thought resembled Sonia Braga) from a local tribe that originally had helped the group find their way around the jungle during the movie. I thought this character presented an interesting angle as liaison to the local natives, much like the "Lola" character in the "Tarzan" films. I guess the tv producers needed to cut back on expenses and this was one way to make the numbers.
If I were making this film I'd (a) get Rachel Blakely out of that long duster coat and into a nice shorts outfit; (b) have fewer dinosaurs; (c) get better writers; (d) get better supporting actors; and (e) insert more humor. I predict that we'll see item (a) pretty soon, if the producers want the show to survive. After all, tv audiences are willing to overlook items (b), (c), (d), and (e) if they have an attractive actress in a skimpy outfit to look at. Jennifer O'Dell is an attractive actress in a skimpy outfit, but she can't be in every scene. Or can she?
A good movie to watch once for kicks, a good tv show to watch if you're tired of cop dramas, situation comedies, and news programs.
Review by Unknown from the Internet Movie Database.