ORBzine - Adventure Movies 2014 Movie Reviews

TITLE & REVIEW

Big Game

Big Game A young boy in Finland is sent off alone into the forest on an overnight hunting trip, as his rite of passage on his thirteenth birthday. This is a touching story, straight out of a short film that one might catch at an art-house cinema.

Unfortunately, there are other hunters in the woods. Some trophy hunters with SAMs take out Air Force One, leaving the lame-duck President (Samuel L Jackson - Kingsman ) ejected in the pod from Escape From New York . His bodyguard (Ray Stevenson - Punisher: War Zone ) also makes it out ...

Naturally, the two stories collide. Two different genres meet - art-house coming-of-age story and Hollywood blockbuster shoot-em-up - and despite the schmaltz and clichťs, the result is pleasantly watchable.

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  • Da Vinci Treasure, The

    Da Vinci Treasure, The Professor C. Thomas Howell ( Peter Benchley's Amazon ) and his babelicious sidekick travel around the world following clues in the works of Leonardo Da Vinci. They must debunk the religious artefacts and uncover the location of an ancient treasure. Meanwhile, they must avoid villainous relic dealer Lance Hendricksen ( Aliens, Terminator ).

    This rips off the Dan Brown story, but it is actually one of the most watchable Mockbusters so far. It is certainly better-paced than the Tom Hanks film!

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  • Dinosaur Island

    Dinosaur Island This was directed by Jim Wynorski . A group of overweight soldiers en route to military prison end up on an island peopled by beautiful women in leather bikinis. They have to avoid getting eaten by dodgy stop-motion dinosaurs.

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  • Dinosaur Project, The

    Dinosaur Project, The This is a found footage film - like Blair Witch Project , but with the African version of the Loch Ness monster.

    A TV company hires a team to go to the Congo and look for dinosaurs They are an English crocodile hunter, his son (think Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: TNG ), a few redshirts and a couple of unrealistically beautiful young women.

    The CGI is used sparingly, which is for the best. Usually it is over-used, which stretches the SPFX budget too thin and makes the whole film look cheap. However, there is still too much of it.

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  • Forbidden Kingdom, The

    Forbidden Kingdom, The A young American Karate Kid is beaten by bullies. He wakes up in Medieval China, in the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon era.

    A drunken Immortal (Jackie Chan - Armour of God ) takes him on a quest to save the Monkey King (yes, Monkey himself - Great Sage, Equal of Heaven)! They are joined by a beautiful young girl on a vengeance quest, and a mysterious warrior monk (Jet Li - The One ).

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  • The Hunters

    The Hunters Michelle Forbes is a Relic Hunter as is her husband. They get double-crossed on a mission ...

    The parents' mission is taken up by Robbie Amell ( Tomorrow People ) and his blonde-haired ex-GF ( Alexa Vega ) with whom he bickers constantly. In the Han and Leia school of this, this means they are destined to be together.

    When the parents are declared MIA, the children must take over their mission. This was the plot of Spy Kids , except that in the earlier film the brother was Alexa Vega's and back then she was too young to have a love interest.

    Victor Garber ( Alias ) rounds out the cast as the mentor figure. Also, there is a secret evil genius that is manipulating our heroes.

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  • Journey to the Centre of the Earth (2008)

    Journey to the Centre of the Earth (2008) This is a made-for-TV film based on the novel by Jules Verne , produced by Robert Halmi Snr and Jr ( Farscape ), and directed by TJ Scott .

    The story starts in California in the Victorian era. Victoria Pratt hires a scientist (Ricky Shroeder - NYPD Blue) to help find her husband. Dr Shroeder finances his research by bareknuckle boxing, so he is more than happy to take her money. His nephew tags along as the party's scribe, although he could just have stayed home and married Elyse Levesque .

    Our team of American adventurers set off to a Russian mineshaft in Alaska (as opposed to a volcano in Iceland). At the bottom they discover an enormous cavern with a phosphorescent ceiling. The flora is the same as in Alaska (or Canada, where this was probably filmed) but the fauna includes a CGI plesiosaur.

    Of course, our protagonists discover the heroine's lost husband (Peter Fonda - Ghost Rider ). He is god-king to the natives (more American Indian than caveman), but this is a case of The Man Who Would Be King.

  • Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1960s)
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  • Land of the Lost

    Land of the Lost This is a comedy remake of a 1970s American TV show about three people (Marshall, Will and Holly) who get trapped in a mysterious wilderness. Dr Rick Marshall (Will Ferrell - ) is mocked when he claims he discovered wormholes. He and grad-student Holly ( Anna Friel ) go through the worm-hole, and get stranded with foul-mouthed redneck Will (Danny McBride - Your Highness ). They get chased around by a dinosaur, and have to save the universe from an alien invader.

    Ferrell and McBride each bring their own brand of humour to the film. Friel dresses like a slender Lara Croft, a reason in itself to watch the film. Unfortunately she uses her own Rochdale accent.

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  • Land That Time Forgot, The

    Land That Time Forgot, The A decent version of this story was filmed in the 1970s, starring Doug McClure. Why was this new version made? The original work by Edgar Rice Borroughs must be out of copyright, so The Asylum got it on the cheap.

    Some Americans on holiday get lost in the Bermuda triangle, and end up on a time-warped island. C Thomas Howell ( Red Dawn ) is in the Doug McClure role.

    Thankfully the CGI dinosaurs are kept to a minimum. They actually look better than the rubber ones in the Hammer original!

    The German characters actually speak their own language.

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  • Lara Croft: Cradle of Life

    Lara Croft: Cradle of Life The British Government hires Lara Croft ( Angelina Jolie ) to retrieve a magical artefact. Not only is she the only one with the necessary skills, but she is also on first-name terms with most of the persons involved.

    Lara recruits an untrustworthy ex-lover, Gerard Butler ( Dracula 2001 ), as a guide - he knows many of the players too. However, she tends to ignore his advice. He wants to take the slow way into China, whereas she has a high-tech alternative already lined up. If she does not listen to him or even trust him, why does she bother to bring him along?

    Evil billionaire Mr Rice (Ciaran Hinds - Ghost Rider 2 ) is after the artefact, knowning it will lead him to Pandora's Box. The box contains a deadly disease, which is why Alexander the Great had it hidden in a magic cave guarded by supernatural monsters. Rice wants to sell it to the highest bidder as a bio-weapon, like the villain of Mission Impossible 2 . Naturally this would end in a Zombie Apocalypse, but Rice does not seem to care. He has forgotten the saying there are no pockets in a shroud.

    In modern times, many Hollywood blockbusters are filmed in China for financial reasons - to secure a spot in the Chinese market. This film, released in the year 2003, evidently got its funding from product placement. The Chinese setting seems purely because it is glamourous and exotic.

  • Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
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  • Lost City Raiders

    Lost City Raiders The near future, and the Earth has been flooded thanks to Global Warming - like in Waterworld . A family of salvage divers (including Ian Somerhalder - Lost, Vampire Diaries ) are hired by the New Vatican to retrieve a magic artefact that can end the flood.

    Millionaire Ben Cross ( First Knight ) tries to find the artefact first. Lots of sub- Relic Hunter antics ensue.

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  • Lost Continent

    Lost Continent This is a Hammer production from the late 1960s. There are no famous faces in the cast, but they are all experienced supporting players from the Peter Cushing/Christopher Lee films. The story is based on a novel by Dennis Wheatley , and one of the characters is actually seen reading a copy of the book.

    The story is set aboard a cargo ship that has seen better days. There are a handful of passengers aboard, but they all have nasty secrets. Worse, the captain is smuggling tons of volatile explosives. The crew are a mutinous rabble. And finally, the ship is steaming straight into a tropical storm.

    Everything is set up for the survivors to arrive at the Lost Continent of the title. However, it is only a remote island and it only appears at the end of the second act. Just in time for the survivors to battle some conquistadors. Well, who expected the Spanish Inquisition?

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  • Monster Island

    Monster Island A gang of tweenagers (including Mary Elizabeth Winstead ) end up on a mysterious island. Luckily, Dr Harryhausen (Adam West - Batman ) is there to give exposition. They must save Carmen Electra from giant ants.

    As befits the Ray Harryhausen reference, the monsters are portrayed through good old-fashioned stop-motion animation.

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  • Nimís Island

    Nimís Island Tomboy Nim ( Abby Breslin ) and her dad (Gerald Butler - 300 ) live on a remote South Pacific island. When daddy goes off in the yacht, Nim is left alone. Her only companion (other than some English-trained wild animals) is her Internet pen-pal, the adventure writer Alex Rover.

    Nimís island paradise is invaded by Buccaneers, a cruise-ship crewed by the likes on Anthony Simcoe ( Farscape ). The only one she can call for help is Alex Rover. Unfortunately Alex the Adventurer is the alter-ego of Alex the Writer - an agoraphobic Jodie Foster !

    This is a great kidsí story, with one major problem. The protagonist is never in any actual danger. We see the characters do things, but there is no actual emotional connection with them. Itís a very well-made film, but ultimately there is nothing to it.

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  • The Pyramid

    The Pyramid Archaeologist Dick OíHare ( American Horror Story ) and his daughter (also an archaeologist, despite her model-turned-actress looks) lead a dig on a newly-discovered pyramid. Unfortunately, it all goes terribly wrong. They send a robot into the structure to explore, but something destroys it. They decide to retrieve the robot, or bits of it, perhaps in the hope of repairing it and handing it back to NASA as if it were good as new. The smart option would be to let NASA claim the insurance, but if characters in horror movies were smart they would not be in horror movie scenarios.

    The archaeologists are accompanied by a TV journalist and her cameraman - one of The Inbetweeners. This is not the distraction so much as the fact that this is not a true Found Footage film. It keeps flipping between what the explorers are filming (they have the TV camera, the robotís cameras and even a web-cam for a tablet computer) and what the storytellers want us to see. This is a cheat, and allows the use of additional music and sound effects - not to mention the threat of a disappointing Untruthful Narrator ending.

    The monster is original, to an extent. The writers chose a creature that is part of ancient Egyptian folklore, but it has not been used as a movie monster before. The CGI is also well-rendered, so the visuals are not to blame.

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  • Tin-Tin

    Tin-Tin This is a CGI full-on 3-D animation of the Belgian comic-book series that started in the 1930s. The visuals are all faithfully rendered, with French-style architecture and vehicles. The voices are British, though - Boy reporter Tin-tin (Jamie Bell - King Kong ), bumbling police detectives Thompson and Thompson (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost - Paul ) and drunken Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis - LOTR, King Kong 2005 ) face off against villainous Sakarine (Daniel Craig - Casino Royale ). Together they embark on cartoonishly OTT adventures, where there is no actual threat of danger to our heroes.

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  • Treasure Guards

    Treasure Guards Anna Friel is an archaeologist who uncovers clues to the Ring of Solomon. She is desperate for funding, so she asks the Vatican for help. They send an Inquisitor to oversee her mission. While claiming they want the relic because it was Touched by God, their real agenda is to locate King Solomon's mines!

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