King Solomon's Mines
Reviewed by Jeff DeLuzio
Rating: 9.5 Beans
t's the 1980s, and Hollywood has brought in bundles ripping off old movie serials and antiquated adventure yarns in films like "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Romancing the Stone." So, someone thought, why not unearth one of the original sources? H. Rider Haggard churned'em out when Victoria reigned; "King Solomon's Mines" is one of his most successful efforts. Hollywood has made it into a movie several times before though, each time, it seems less like a good idea.
Let's hope this is the last remake.
Richard Chamberlain plays the hero. He's passable, but that's about all-- and his witty dialogue is awful.
Of Sharon Stone's acting, let me just say that it staggers the imagination in audiences and inspires hope in would-be stars that this woman has put together a career after her performance in this film.
Then there's the film's portrayal of Africa. Really, the filmmakers should have been a lot more careful. The story is set in Haggard's Africa. Haggard's original audience assumed Africa consisted of childlike natives and fierce monsters. I'll accept that his views were a product of his culture-- but what is this version of "the Dark Continent" doing on late twentieth-century film stock? A friendly tribe of merry, tree-hanging Africans represents the absolute low point in this regard. Really, old pulp novels provide wonderful insight into the zeitgeist of another era, but there's no excuse for adapting these ideas quite so literally now-- especially in a film that dispenses with so much of Haggard's original novel.
Perhaps the film's oddest feature are its high production values that turn inexplicably cheap at unexpected moments. After an hour of well-filmed scenery and passably-choreographed escape sequences, a giant spider attacks our heroes, an ersatz Shelob that appears to have escaped from "Attack of the Radioactive Spider Monsters" circa 1955. No one should have to watch effects this bad unless there's going to be a cartoon hot-dog dancing to a jingle at intermission-- or at least a cheesy horror host. Our heroes must also escape a frightening water trap that appears to be about four inches deep. Most of these lapses occur near the end, which begs the question: did they just give up on this thing?
This film spawned a sequel.
I don't plan to see it.
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