Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lock Me Up!: The Land That Time Forgot

If there is one thing that The Asylum seems to love, it's the Tyrannosaurus Rex.  This dinosaur predator is probably the most famous one ever discovered & is a common thing in cinema.  The dinosaur has appearances a 'heavy' going back to the original King Kong!  A whole slew of Asylum films use the thing, including this film, 100 Million B.C. and Sherlock Holmes.  The key thing to understand about this film is that it was made to copy off of the then-recent film Land of the Lost.  While I think it's great, the film was not even close to a hit.  Good call, guys!  The star power we get is C. Thomas Howell (who also directs) and Timothy Bottoms.  Bottoms is a comic who got famous about ten years ago for his George W. Bush impression.  After the series That's My Bush (a silly, but good show) got cancelled in the wake of 9/11, he found another avenue for that impression: D/C 9/11.  This is a serious drama about the President, so, of course, they hire the guy who played him on a sitcom parody!  I mention all of this because the movie is so dull.  Get out your self-reloading flare gun for my review of...
The film begins with our heroes riding out on a boat.  The group is a bit odd, consisting of three fairly-young people and C. Thomas Howell.  Who invited the creepy uncle?  In addition, there is a drunken boat captain (Bottoms) and his young helper.  While the group- save for the boat owners- are asleep, a portal appears in the middle of the ocean.  After this weird event, they...cut to the next day.  Yeah, they can't afford to show the ship go through the portal, so the film just kind of skips that part.  The group approach an island and can't agree who should go and who should stay.  Eventually, Howell's wife agrees to stay alone, saying that she'll fire the flare gun if trouble arises.  In a bit of foreshadowing, the movie shows the shadow of a giant squid swim under the boat and move on.  The woman does the one cliche that I always hate to see: the 'I saw something move out of view, so I'll proceed to tell everyone to look' bit.  That's so dumb!  The group go out and explore, before the young guy goes onto a ledge.  He sees some pterodactyls fly by, causing him to fall off and die.  They don't touch him- they just seem to destroy his equilibrium, leading to the fall.  Oh yeah, they eat him, sending our heroes fleeing.  Remember the part in the beginning about the T-Rex?  Yeah, he's here now too.
Our heroes run back when they see the flare be fired...from behind a mountain, but find the boat empty.  They wander around back on land for a bit, which helps pad out the runtime a bit.  Eventually, they flee from another dinosaur attack, only for Howell to get knocked out.  When he awakens, the group is chatting with a man in anachronistic clothing.  As they figure out, the island is apparently the center of a time-warp, thus solidifying the only real link to Land of the Lost.  Sure, it has a T-Rex and a jungle, but so does Jurassic Park!  He takes them through the swamps- it's a very rich island, apparently- and across a river, where the younger lead gets attacked by some sort of sea snake.  They fend it off with ease and meet up with a man who is the sole survivor of a boat crash from the 1950s.  Oddly, he's been there longer than their guide, who is from the 1940s.  Time-travel sure is confusing, huh?  They show them to a cave full of Nazis (why exactly?!?) who just so happen to be holding a hostage: Howell's wife.  The younger island native sets up an elaborate plan to free her.  First step: taunt a T-Rex into attacking the Nazis!  Thank you, horrible-looking and out-of-scale CG model.  During the attack, there is also a shoot-out with our heroes.  This goes on so long that they forget about the T-Rex, who apparently just leaves.  In the midst of that, the two stranded men knock out Bottoms and escape in the raft before...nothing bad happens to them.  No squid in sight.
Once the two groups realize that they are stuck, they just sort of agree to get along.  It takes a bit of work, but much less than you would think when this involves Nazis.  Conveniently, one of the Nazis speaks English and explains that their U-Boat needs repairs in order to escape.  In a footprint of the T-Rex's, they discover oil residue and devise a plan.  They have to lure the T-Rex from his home and kill him in order to refine the crude for their ship.  Conveniently enough, the drunk captain is also an expert at the refining process and the Nazis have the equipment to do so.  Their plan to kill the T-Rex involves luring it to the shore- by throwing small explosives at it- and firing a torpedo from the U-Boat.  Torpedoes don't work that way!  This fails, so the younger lead rips off the ending from Jaws 3 to blow the beast up.  As a bonus, they recycle the 'T-Rex emerges from the foliage shot' from before.  After a montage, the group is almost ready to go.  Unfortunately, a second T-Rex shows up and kills one Nazi (see Poor Bastards of Cinema) before nearly-killing another.  Howell spots it and fires a flare (without them showing it ever being reloaded or retrieved from the boat) at a sealed oil drum, causing a giant explosion!  This movie would give the Mythbusters a coronary!  He ends up being stuck behind, but manages to kill the T-Rex.  The group apparently can't just stop the U-Boat in water, so they leave him and his wife behind.  Do they make it?  We aren't shown.  It's more important to show Howell and his wife raising a family on the island, apparently!  The End.
This movie sucks!  The plot is stupid and not exactly fleshed out.  Why do people get stuck on the island?  The movie never bothers to really explain any of this stuff, merely saying that it happens.  Oh good, I hate logic in my films!  Furthermore, the plot's third act hinges upon you just accepting that Nazis are nice guys.  The film really fails on more merits than just this though.  It's not as (unintentionally) funny as some of the other films from The Asylum, nor does it have any of the rare technical merit that they sometimes show.  In fact, this movie has worse special effects than War of the Worlds 2, despite being made over a year later!  Howell's direction is about the same as ever.  The only 'flourish' he adds here are pointless Dutch Angles.  The use of this technique really helps to show people walking down a path when nothing happens!  There are some good laughs to be had here, but they're mostly at the expense of the special effects.  One big problem: the moral and tone.  The film teaches you that cheating prospers (since the two people that steal the raft seem to live) and that doing good things ends badly for you (see the man who blows up the T-Rex or Howell saving the Nazi).  The dark, sad tone thrown in at the end is especially out of place.  That was the one thing that Land of the Lost needed to be a hit: a bipolar tone shift!
Up next, The Asylum goes into the jungle without C. Thomas Howell.  Instead, they bring the cast of Dracula's Curse out to fight King Kong.  Stay tuned...


  1. I figured this was a remake of the original LAND THAT TIME FORGOT. The storyline is slightly similar with the inclusion of Nazis. They never refer to them as Nazis in the original, but it takes place during WW1. There's a trilogy of these during the 70's plus one non-Burroughs based film that are all very enjoyable.

  2. This one is *kind* of a remake, but they add stuff. The whole 'time portal' thing was obviously put in to synch up with 'Land of the Lost.'

    A lot of those movies are actually good. This one is directed by C. Thomas Howell.

  3. I'll give them the fact that the T-Rex looks better than the one swinging from vines in Jacksons King Kong

  4. Yeah, I seen his director credit and thought that was kind of funny. It seems he's helmed a few of these blatant rip offs. LAND THAT TIME FORGOT deserves much better though, I think.

  5. Make no mistake that their CG work can look alright in still frames. When they're actually in motion, they don't hold up too well.

    Yeah, as far as Howell goes, he's the director of THREE out of the seven films I reviewed by them last week. That ratio is way off for my taste!