ORBzine - Adventure Movies 2017 Movie Reviews


30,000 Leagues Under the Sea

30,000 Leagues Under the Sea The USN loses a top-secret missile-boat. Lorenzo Lamas ( Deep Evil ) and his hi-tech missile sub are sent to rescue the crew. A gorgeous English babe is the commander of the SEAL unit sent to recover the nukes. Naturally, Lorenzo and the babe have a personal history that involves a bad break-up. So this is like The Abyss , but low-budget and poorly-cast.

Lamas and his sub crew start running out of oxygen. They black out, and wake up aboard the Nautilus. Captain Nemo is the stereotypical madman with an urge to build an underwater civilisation.

65 (2023)

65 (2023) Kylo Renn (Adam Driver - Silence ) is a spaceship pilot. His craft hits a meteorite, and the escape pod ends up on a nearby M-class planet. Of course, the survivors get menaced by local monsters. Yes, this starts a lot like Pitch Black - of if we were to be less charitable, After Earth .

It turns out that the monsters are dinosaurs, and the planet is Earth ... 65 million years ago. Worse, the meteor that destroyed the ship was part of a larger meteor that is about to hit the planet and create an extinction-level event. The survivors have to get to their escape ship ...

The pilot is accompanied by a small girl who runs away and does not speak to him at first. Yes, they are basically Hicks and Newt from Aliens . Well, she is a stand-in daughter for him so is is a bit of a Ripley character instead. Anyway, this is not a very original movie but it does work if you consider it an alternative to Alien 3 . If Hicks and Newt had been seperated from Ripley, trapped together on a different continent, this is the adventure they might have had.

Caved In (2006)

Caved In (2006) This starts in the 1940s, in a salt mine in Switzerland. The good news is they find a rich seam of emeralds. The bad news is it also holds a hive of enormous CGI insects.

In the modern day, a rich man (Colm Meaney - Star Trek: DS9 ) hires a caver to guide an expedition into the disused mine. Unfortunately the expedition are all gangsters and they start to turn on each other, but that is to be expected with this kind of thing.

Meanwhile, one of the crooks stays with the caver's wife and teenagers. This allows for some good-old fem-jep.

Congo (1995)

Congo (1995) Charlie (Bruce Campbell - Evil Dead ) leads a team of explorers into the African jungle. They find some ancient ruins, and a deposit of priceless blue diamonds. Unfortunately, before they can report everything to HQ they are attacked by an unknown monster.

Laura Linney is Charlie's ex-lover, and the ex-CIA trouble-shooter at his company. This gives her two good reasons to go looking for him. However, when her boss (Joe Don Baker - Goldeneye ), who is also Charlie's dad, orders her to go looking then she gets upset. His good business sense, which is to protect the jobs for FORTY THOUSAND employees, is deemed to be selfish and wrong.

Nearby, the nice-guy Doctor from Nip/Tuck has a friendly gorilla named Amy. He has taught her sign-language, and a thanks to a sci-fi device her signs are verbalised. Yes, this movie is more accessible to the low-brow audience because it avoided the necessity of subtitles. However, Amy's face may be well-crafted for animatronics courtesy of Stan Winston but it is nowhere as expressive as that of a real gorilla. As a result she runs the risk of breaching suspension of disbelief.

The Doctor and his sidekick (Grant Heslov - True Lies ) want to take Amy the gorrilla back to her birthplace in the jungle. Luckily they meet Herman Homulka (Tim Curry - Rocky Horror Picture Show ), who offers to pay for their expedition. Laura catches a ride with them to Africa. After all, it helps to have a massive corporation covering your expenses.

In Africa they meet up with their guide, Munroe (Ernie Hudson - Ghostbusters ). The expedition proceed by truck, while Munroe's sidekick Eddie (Joe Pantoliano - Matrix ) and the luggage hop ahead by DC-3. This may seem overly complicated, but it allows them to have a run-in with the local military commander (Delroy Lindo - The Core ).

As always in a modern Hollywood movie, there is a nod to racial politics. The colonel says that westerners care more about gorillas than they do about humans. Later on the guide points out that in the jungle, it is unusual for the leader to be a black man because they are usually given manual labour jobs. This illustrates the reverse hierarchy of privilege at work, which has only gotten worse in the following decades. The more disenfranchised and marginalised a group is perceived to be, the more concern is felt for them.

Despite being in the most remote and undeveloped part of the world, there is a lot of high-tech weaponry floating around. The border guards in Zaire have a plethora of stinger missiles, and they fire several of them at every passing airplane.

Once they parachute into the jungle, things get even worse. The Doctor, supposedly an expert in gorillas, does not know enough about them to avoid looking one in the eyes.

Eventually they discover that Homulka is after the Lost City of Zinj, which is reputedly the location of King Solomon's Mines . Well, it makes sense that if there is a large deposit of diamonds then someone in the last few thousand years would have discovered it. Unfortunately the city is built on an active volcano that is about to erupt.

This movie is based on a novel by Michael Crichton , so it has his usual science is bad schtick. In many ways it can be seen as a follow-up to Jurassic Park . However, it is nowhere near as good. Perhaps Spielberg could have done a better job, with better cinematography and pacing. If one compares the climactic stalk-and kill scenes they are just not as good as Spielberg's Velociraptor scenes. Then they humans set up sentry guns to protect their camp's perimeter. Again, this is nowhere near as good as the comparable scenes in Aliens . The director is Frank Marshall , who made his name as 2nd-Unit director on Spielberg's films but lacks his flair. The producer is Kathleen Kennedy, Marshall's ex-wife, who was recruited by Disney to run Lucasfilm after Lucas sold it.

The casting may seem to be imaginative. After all, the action hero is a woman and the Great White Hunter is a black man. However, the sad fact is that the actors (like the director) are the B-Movie equivalent of the cast of Jurassic Park.

Crawl Or Die AKA Crawl, Bitch, Crawl

Crawl Or Die AKA Crawl, Bitch, Crawl This is set in a dark future, where a virus has turned human women infertile - like in Children of Men . Luckily, one fertile woman has been located and is sent to another planet - named Earth 2 . However, despite being guarded by the world's best Special Forces team she is still not safe.

All this is an excuse to get a bunch of people trapped in some underground tunnels. An alien beastie chases them, although at least it is prosthetic in most scenes. It bumps them off one at a time, so when it comes to Special Forces training things must have slackened by the time people landed on a planet in a different solar system.

The Final Girl, the best of the Special forces team, is Tank ( Nicole Alonso ) - a butch woman in skimpy sportswear and a blonde mohawk hairdo. We do not learn her name until the very end, so as you can imagine there is not much in the way of dialogue in this film. It is basically an extended chase scene, with the intention of creating a dark, suspenseful and claustrophobic atmosphere. However, this falls far short of the Polish black and white classic, Kanal.

Honey, I Shrunk The Kids (1989)

Honey, I Shrunk The Kids This is a special effects extravaganza from 1989. Decades later, it is still visually spectacular.

A scientist (Rick Moranis - Ghostbusters ) lives in suburban USA with his wife and two children. There is even a subplot of his feud with the neighbours - Matt Frewer ( Max Headroom ) and Kristine Sutherland .

The scientist invents a machine that can shrink objects. His children get accidentally reduced to the size of insects, and then thrown out into the back yard. They must make their way back across the law, dodging the occasional bee and scorpion, if they want to get returned to their former size.

Lost City Of Z, The (2016)

Lost City Of Z, The This is based on a true story, and the UK scenes were filmed in Northern Ireland. The story starts in the Edwardian era, the last great age of exploration. Shackleton gets a mention in passing for his polar expeditions, and the discovery of Machu Pichu is also referred to.

British Army officer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam - Pacific Rim ) is not content to stay at home with his wife ( Sienna Miller ), and instead wants to go out and have adventures. The Head of the Royal Geographical Society (Ian McDiarmuid - Star Wars: TPM ) sends him off to explore South America. He even introduces him to some travelling companions, including a newspaper reporter (Robert Pattinson - Twilight ).

The early exploration of the jungle seems reminiscent of Fitzcaraldo . In fact, there is an homage to that film when Fawcett encounters a rubber plantation owner (Franco Nero - John Wick 2 ) who has built his very own opera house in the middle of the Bolivian rain forest.

Finally, Fawcett focuses his obsession on a rumoured lost civilisation. He leads another expedition back to South America, to find the ruins he calls the Lost City of Z. He brings along an eager financier (Angus McFadyen - Saw III ), although this was not his smartest move.

Sorceror (1977)

Sorceror This is the third in a series of tense 1970s thrillers directed by William Friedkin . With French Connection he re-invented the police thriller, while The Exorcist re-booted the entire horror genre. However, this film sank without trace. In part because of the title - the original book was called The Wages Of Fear, while Sorceror is only the name of the hero's truck. There are no magic-users in the entire story, which means that many fans of The Exorcist were disappointed. The other reason it flopped is that it came out at the same time as Star Wars: A New Hope .

The film starts by introducing us to four main characters. They are all criminals who end up on the run. Each is played by an actor who is recogniasble in his own country, thus making this an internationally sellable ensemble cast. That said, the American is Roy Scheider ( Jaws ), so it is a good bet who the last man standing will be.

The characters all end up in a Third World hell-hole, a tiny town in an un-named Latin American country. The only employer in town is an American oil company, which does not give a damn about worker safety. When the oil well is sabotaged by left-wing terrorists, many workers are killed. Worse, a violent riot breaks out when the families attack the police.

The only way to put the oil-well fire out is with explosives. The bad news is that the only cache of dynamite is two hundred miles away. The worse news is that the dynamite is sweating, and the cases are basically full of highly unstable nitro-glycerine. Worst of all, the cases must be transported on bumpy roads in out-dated trucks. In other words, it is a suicide mission. Luckily, there happen to be four foreigners who have nothing to lose.

In a modern-day movie, the inciting incident is about twenty minutes into the story. This movie, however, has already drawn out the introductory act to about an hour into the story. However, once the trucks get moving the suspense is almost non-stop. Much like Apocalypse Now, which came out a couple of years later, the story is all about the journey.

The trucking goes well, to start with. Our heroes decide to make things look a bit more exciting by deliberately driving as close as possible to the edge when it is clearly visible that there is plenty of room on the other side. However, later on there is a spectacular sequence involving a rope-bridge. Apparently it was a nightmare to film, but it is spellbinding to watch. As always in this film, things are pushed to the level of extreme. There is a rainstorm, and the river is in full flood. A cheesy disaster movie would have used a river of lava, but the torrential water in this scene is terrifying enough.

Survivor (2014)

Survivor (2014) The protagonist is Kate, a young woman who looks like Katherine Heigl . She lives on a starship, where she is part of a recon team being given Special Forces type survival training by Captain Hunt (Kevin Sorbo - Hercules: The Legendary Journeys ). Their mission is to scout newly-discovered M-class worlds, in the hope of finding somewhere they can settle and live in peace.

The scout-ship is destroyed, and the crew parachute down to the planet. They are injured, scattered, and attacked by barbarians clad in gas masks. Kate manages to get away, and goes looking for the Captain.

Captain Hunt cannot come and rescue the youngsters. He landed sixty kilometres away, and broke his leg. Yes, the square-jawed action hero is disabled so the Final Girl has to save the day. This may seem like a revolutionary new empowerment strategy, but it is actually a decades-old trope. In every horror movie since The Shining (1981) , the cop gets taken out before he can rescue the damsel.

Kate goes to save Captain Hunt. She has an AI that interprets its internal map of the local terrain, along with the radio-beacons for the persons involved, and delivers verbal instructions as to the best direction to take. Yes, it is like a personal direction-finder ap - but it does not have a GPS network or wireless internet to connect with.

Hunt and the AI provide dialogue for exposition. The barbarians do not have any dialogue in the extended chase scene, which means that the fights are seemlessly filmed with professional stunt personnel. This also allows the director to show off the landscape with some impressive low-level helicopter footage. Evidently the camera drone has come of age.

As well as the stuntmen there are CGI beasties, which are not too annoying to look at because they are used sparingly. The real villains are some mutants, which have very well-done prosthetics.

This was written and directed by one man. As always with auteurs, the result is quite uneven. The story is minimal, and serves to create opportunities for impressive visuals. However, the visuals are indeed impressive and make it worthwhile.

Jumanji Franchise

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle (2017)

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle (2017) The story starts in 1996, after the events of the previous film. A teenage boy finds the Jumanji board game on the beach. He takes it home, but would rather play with his computer games. Next morning the board-game has magically transformed itself into a computer game, so he gives it a try and gets sucked into it.

Twenty years later, we meet the modern-day heroes. They are a mixed bunch of American High School kids who get detention together. This is a lot more like The Breakfast Club than their counterparts in the overly noirish Power Rangers (2015) . The kids discover the game, and when they start to play they get sucked in.

In their alternate selves, each is given an inappropriate pre-generated character. Gender is pre-assigned, so the hot girl ends up as Jack Black ( Tropic Thunder ) while the nerdy girl is uncomfortable as Karen Gillan clad in the skimpy costume of Lara Croft . Similarly, the nerd becomes Dwayne Johnson ( GI Joe: Retaliation ) and the jock becomes the relatively diminutive Kevin Hart ( National Security ).

The team meet Nigel (Rhys Darby - Mulder and Scully Meet The Were-Monster ), who gives them some background exposition. The villain is Van Pelt (Bobby Cannavale - Ant Man ), an explorer who has become a magically enhanced Kurtz from Heart of Darkness. To defeat him they must return a magical gem to its rightful location in the jungle.

There is a nod to the original story, when the team discover Alan's camp-site. Strangely the rules of the game seem to have changed. When Alan was trapped in the game for decades, he ended up looking like Robin Williams ( Popeye ). But when the 1990s boy spent twenty years in the game, he only looks like he aged a couple of years at most.

The result is a well-made light-hearted action-adventure movie. The CGI is so impressive that it is either minimally employed or so good that it is impossible to see the joins. Likewise the cast all acquit themselves well, parodying their usual character archetypes.

Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)

Jumanji: The Next Level (2019) This is set a year after the events of the previous movie. The kids have split up for college, and the nerdy guy is under a lot of stress. He decides to go back into the game ...

The other kids realise what he has done, and go in to rescue him. The jock becomes Jack Black ( Tropic Thunder ) for a change, while the nerdy girl is still Karen Gillan clad in the skimpy costume of Lara Croft .

To mix things up a bit, and give new audience members constant exposition, a couple of new players are thrown into the game. Grandpa Eddie (Danny DeVito - Batman Returns (1991) ) becomes Dwayne Johnson ( GI Joe: Retaliation ) and his buddy Milo (Danny Glover - Age of Dragons ) becomes the relatively diminutive Kevin Hart ( National Security ).

The team meet Nigel (Rhys Darby - Mulder and Scully Meet The Were-Monster ), who gives them some background exposition. The villain is Jurgen the Brutal (Rory McCann - Game of Thrones ), a marauder who has stolen a magical gem.

This is a great sequel. It has all the best things about the original, but the new characters make it seem fresh. As well as the villain plot, the characters all have personal story arcs. All in all, well worth a watch!

Jurassic World Franchise

Jurassic World (2015)

Jurassic World (2015) Judy Greer sends her kids to stay with their Auntie, Bryce Dallas Howard , a senior executive at the dinosaur theme park. They arrive in a scene reminiscent of Westworld only with a catamaran instead of a hovercraft. The place is as busy as the theme park in the Scooby Doo Movie, but with real monsters instead of animatronic scares. Unfortunately, the more real the monsters are the harder it is for the people running the place to up their game every few years.

In the first movie, the heroes were menaced by one T-Rex and some raptors. The second movie had TWO T-Rexes, plus raptors. The third time round it was a T-Rex, a Spinosaur (super-predator), plus the obligatory raptors. This time, mad scientist Henry Wu (BD Wong - Gotham ) has cooked up something special. It has the size of a T-Rex, the claws of a raptor, the camouflage of a chameleon (or a cuttlefish), and other superpowers that nobody bothered to tell Security about. What could possibly go wrong?

Auntie is too busy with VIPs to look after the kids, so she lets her assistant ( Katie McGrath ) play nanny for them. They ditch her and go walkabout. What could possibly go wrong? Auntie has to team up with Starlord ( Guardians of the Galaxy ) to rescue the kids. The adults start bickering like Han and Leia in Star Wars (a clichť for romantic pairings in Hollywood flicks), get lost in the jungle (Romancing The Stone), but eventually Auntie turns into a James Cameron Action Woman.

This is a better disaster movie than San Andreas , and it technically passes the Bechdel test (auntie has phone chats with her sister and her assistant about her nephews). However, it is just trying too hard. Every character is a blatant archetype, every dinosaur species must be allowed to steal a scene, and so on.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) This takes place three years after the events of the previous film. Not only has the park been closed, but the island is now the site of an errupting volcano. How the volcano's active status was not discovered when the original park was built a quarter of a century previously is put down to an act of god. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum - The Fly ) makes an appearance at the US Congress hearings, and airs his opinion that the dinosaurs should be left on the island so that the volcano can kill them all in a natural way. He certainly remembers the events of Jurassic Park II: The Lost World when a T-Rex ate half of San Diego. Ironically, of all the movies that is the one that this one most resembles.

Claire Deering ( Bryce Dallas Howard ) runs a group that wants to save the dinosaurs. She is recruited by Mr Lockwood (James Cromwell - Star Trek: First Contact ), a billionaire philanthropist and former friend of John Hammond, who offers to help her cause. He has created a new sanctuary where the dinosaurs will be safe. Why they do not just use Site Two, scene of the second and third movies, is not explained.

Claire recruits her ex-lover Owen Grady (Chris Pratt - Guardians Of The Galaxy ), a black nerd and a Latina veterinarian ( Daniella Pineda ). The security man is rent-a-villain Ted Levine ( Silence Of The Lambs ), so it is obvious that some villainy is afoot.

This movie really tries to push the female lead as an action hero. She is active, not merely a Final Girl who gets chased a lot, but we still empathise with her when she is in danger. The macho man is a lot less sympathetic, he is basically a comedy character because the audience never feels sorry for him despite the terrible dangers he is placed into. In fact, in one sequence the female character does all the work and then saves the male character.

The subplot also pushes for female supremacy. In the previous film, a couple of young boys went off exploring and had to be rescued by the adults. Now, instead of the fool-Hardy boys it is Nancy Drew - a young girl who plays detective and uncovers the villain's plot.

In the third act, the villain's plan is made clear. Henry Wu (BD Wong - Gotham ) has created yet another monster. This one is called the Indomidus Raptor, so it has more Raptor blood than the Indominus Rex cross-breed. The villains hire Toby Jones ( Wayward Pines ) to auction off their monstrosity.

One thing is for certain. The so-called good guys are bound to start feeding people to the dinosaurs. Yes, the old save-the-monsters morality always pops up. They have no idea of the consequences of their actions. When the villain monologues them, he points out their hypocrisy. Claire ran a park that enlaved dinosaurs and used them as entertainment, and she even signed off on the creation of the Indomidus Rex. Owen was a military contractor whose job was to weaponise velociraptors. Despite this, they still refuse to act responsibly.

The final sequence is narrated by Goldblum. Man choosing to play god has altered the nature of life on Earth. This seems set up for the final movie in the Jurassic World series. Yes, no matter how badly this one is there might still be yet another Jurassic World movie.

Jurassic World 3: Dominion (2021)

Jurassic World 3: Dominion (2021) This starts with an informative documentary clip giving exposition about the events in and after the previous film. The dinosaurs were let loose, and now they have taken over the eco-system. However, nobody wants to do anything about it. This is clearly a metaphor for climate change.

Claire Deering ( Bryce Dallas Howard ) and Zia Rodriguez ( Daniella Pineda ) spend their time uncovering illegal dino-breeding farms. Meanwhile, Owen (Chris Pratt - Guardians of the Galaxy ) captures rogue dinosaurs and brings them in alive. If the monsters were of a supernatural origin - demons, vampires or werewolves - would the so-called heroes be treating them so gently?

For the last four years, Claire and Owen have been parenting the clone girl. They have isolated her in a log cabin, off the grid and away from other humans. That said, she has still got an English accent. Also, even though she is only fourteen years old they leave her Home Alone. She develops a tendency to ignore the rules and wander into the local town. Naturally, she gets abducted by dino-rustlers.

Claire and Owen go after the girl, who is sold by Soyona Santos ( Dichen Lachman ). This results in a girl-on-girl confrontation, which at least helps the film pass the Bechdel test. Claire and Owen hitch a ride on a plane flown by the movie's token black woman, Kayla Watts ( DeWanda Wise ). This pilot has a lot in common with Owen, and they bond on their shared military service. She would be a perfect love interest for him, if he did not already have one. However, she goes out of her way to make it clear she is a lesbian. Yes, she ticks three diversity boxes in one character.

Meanwhile, there is a subplot that actually matters more than the main plot. Ellie Sattler ( Laura Dern ) discovers that genetically engineered super-locusts have been released in America's farmland. She teams up with Alan Grant (Sam Neill - The Dish ) and Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum - The Fly ) to prove that the evil bio-tech mega-corporation is responsible.

The villain is, of course, an old rich white man. His name is Lewis Dodgson, obviously a reference to Lewis Carroll AKA Charles Dodgeson. He looks and acts like a caricature of Steve Jobs. However, his secret base is connected by a hyperloop system (which moves things short distances very slowly) so he might be an Elon Musk type. He was the one who bribed the tech support mole in the first film, and was thus ultimately responsible for the failure of the Park. Now he has Henry Wu (BD Wong - Gotham ) as his head scientist.

The result is a hotch-potch of cliches and predictable tropes. Colin Trevorrow takes most of the credit, although Stephen Spielberg is listed as a Producer so is not above blame.

Atlantis Franchise

Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)

Atlantis: The Lost Empire This is a Disney Cartoon, featuring a cast of recognisable names rather than the usual group of voice-over specialists. It was written by Joss Whedon and Bryce Zabel.

It is 1914. Atlantis-obsessed Archaeologist Milo (Michael J Fox - Back to the Future ) is recruited by a friendly millionaire (John Mahoney - Frasier) and his hench-woman ( Claudia Christian ) to be the guide on an expedition.

Despite this being the era of the First World War, they have an amazing diesel-punk submarine that would make Captain Nemo or Jules Verne himself turn green with envy. The boss is Commander Rourke (James Garner - ), evidently a heroic member of the US Navy.

Eventually they find the lost city. Milo hooks up with the Princess ( Cree Summer ), despite the misgivings of the Atlantean Chief (Leonard Nimoy - Star Trek: TOS ).

Naturally, every story needs some conflict for the climactic third act. The real clue is the year. Some villains want to sell the Atlantean power source to the Kaiser!

  • Atlantis: Milo's Return
  • Atlantis: Milo's Return (2003)

    Atlantis: Milo's Return It is several years since the events of the first film. The First World War is over, so ships can sail the Atlantic without fear of U-Boats. Unfortunately the excellent animation of the first film has been replaced with cheaper-looking imagery.

    Milo (Michael J Fox - Back to the Future (1985) ) has been living in sin with the Princess ( Cree Summer ). Then his colleagues, the survivors of the first expedition, pay them an unexpected visit. They have anachronistic gyrocopters, which were developed at least a decade after this is set. However, in a cartoon about Atlantis the viewer can hardly expect accurate history.

    Ships have been going missing in the Atlantic ocean. A Norwegian sea-monster known as the Kraken is blamed. The suspicion is that the Kraken is a robotic war machine created thousands of years ago by the Atlantean Chief. Milo and the Princess join the crew as they go looking for the legendary monster.

    There is also a creepy old sailor who hangs around. He has obviously got something to do with the mystery. This makes Scooby Doo look subtle.

  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire