Indiana Brolin and the Temple of Boone

Adventure films are sometimes the most fun to watch. Who out there hasn’t wanted to go on a treasure hunt with Indiana Jones, or follow the map from The Goonies? This week’s film is a fun little number from 2008 called Lost City Raiders. If you think that sounds like some ancient Mayan civilization with their own professional sports team, then you’d be wrong. Though that is what I think of first as well.

Nope, this story is about the earth in year 2048. Apparently after the polar ice caps melted an event known as “the Rising” occurred in which the water levels on the entire planet rose. I learned all this in the intro narrated by James Brolin. There are cool shots of major cities mostly under water. The Eiffel Tower looks like a giant buoy out at sea. The Hollywood Sign is right above water level in LA…and that’s where our story really begins.

Once James is done narrating, he starts in on the “acting.” He has a nice little operation going where he stays on a boat reminiscing about the good old days before the Rising, while one son named Jack (Ian Somerhalder) tomb raids the flooded cities below, and the other, less attractive son named Thomas does that handyman work on the boat. If this was an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, I’d refer to that as “Charlie-work.” Apparently, if you are hot, you get to swim around, and the plain people get to do the work.

Side Note #1:  I was first introduced to Ian Somerhalder via Boone from the greatest TV show ever: Lost. I hated Boone. He was sort of a hot-tempered annoying boy scout type character, and I was totally cool with this exit from the show.  These days, Somerhalder can be seen on Vampire Diaries where he plays bad-boy, Damon. I’ve caught the odd episode of Vampire Diaries, and he’s pretty cool on it. He’s also easy on the eyes, so that’s helpful.  Back to the review, folks:

Jack is the reckless one. He stays underwater too long while recovering what I think is a Batman #1, and almost gets eaten by a shark. Thomas is the responsible one. He wears glasses and a shirt that buttons all the way up. I wanted to mention that since the filmmakers have taken such pains to show us how different the guys are.

Okay, I was wrong. Crap. It wasn’t a Batman #1. It’s some ancient text something or other.  The ancient text goes on about some scepter that’s possibly located in one of the underwater buildings near the New Vatican. However…there’s some secret conspiracy or something, and the Church wants the search of that building to be a secret squirrel affair. Brolin and sons plan their raid.

James Brolin seems kind of asleep during this movie. I’m not getting much other than line readings. Maybe that’s just how he is–flat. I’m not sure. But I keep yawning as soon as he starts opening his mouth. You want to hear something funny though? Listen to James Brolin speak Latin.

Thomas the Responsible stays on board the boat to monitor radar. Jack and Brolin dive to the mystery building which looks like it was stolen from Tomb Raider II: The Cradle of Life. There are lots of little traps and secret riddles protecting this mysterious scepter that everyone’s after. Well, I’m told everyone’s after it. So far, not many takers.  Brolin and Jack escape the traps and make it out with the scepter—but only by the skin of their teeth.

Oh wait! Spoke too soon. A mystery guy with a British accent (so he’s a villain) has his eye on the S.S. Minnow and it’s crew. He informs his minion to “not let that boat out of sight.” Mwha ha ha….

Question: Why oh why does the Vatican have buildings full of traps and riddles?

Spoke too soon on that scepter too. It turns out Brolin only retrieved the scepter case. No scepter inside. You know what? At this point, I’d tell Cardinal Richlieu to go fetch the scepter himself. I mean, what does it even do? No one will explain it’s point other than we have to find it!!!  We are now referring to the scepter as the Scepter of MacGuffin. Any problems with that, see the management.

Back to Brolin and sons. They are at the local greasy spoon, enjoying a meal when their waitress suddenly forces herself into their business, and asks them to take her on as crew. A drunken sea captain at a nearby table (if he’d say “yarr” a couple times, he’d be that guy on The Simpsons) tells a tale about how the waitress is bad luck on boats. She’s also probably going to lose her tip if she stands around any longer.

New character introductions: We cut away to some chick in a bikini, so she’s obviously a scientist. Her name is Giovanna, and she was working on some kind of ground radar theory whilst in her bathing costume.  She’s approached by a lady in business attire and then taken to see some dude played by Ben Cross. He’s got a British accent! I bet he’s the villainous voice we heard earlier! Boom!

Ben Cross was in Chariots of Fire which is a classic film and so we should probably feel respectful to him. The last thing I saw Mr. Cross in was Hulu reruns of the remake of Dark Shadows. If you want a good chuckle, definitely watch that.

I’d like to interrupt myself at this point to mention that I feel Mr. Brolin might have called in his performance. Yes, the rest of the cast is so-so, but you don’t see Ben Cross lamenting his poor film choice. He’s probably just happy for the work. In fact, he seems to snack on the scenery every time he gets the chance. I wonder if he’s friends with Julian Sands. Hmmm… My reason for calling out James Brolin is because just the other day I watched a rerun of Psych with him in a guest-starring role. He was pretty darn fun in that episode. So that’s how I know this isn’t just a case of bad acting—it’s a case of lazy acting

Back to Giovanna and Ben Cross’s character whose name I haven’t properly caught.  He’s invited her to his office so they can discuss the fact that the water is still rising. Ben wants to fund Giovanna’s seismology/geography research. All he wants in return is her soul.  No, just kidding. He wants her to assist in finding artifacts that could be used to stop the Rising. Sure he does…

Just like in Tom Raider and Tomb Raider II, we have competitive salvage jobs going on. Giovanna is with all the high tech folks, and Jack is going old school. (BTW, the two used to have a thing) Once again Brolin and boys are searching some ancient building in search for the Scepter of MacGuffin. First, we have to find the tomb of a Templar knight. If this was the tomb of Sir Richard, we’d have rats, fire, and Indiana Jones. But alas, this isn’t that tomb. This tomb just has some junk and a scroll.

Jack and Thomas crash the Vatican and deliver the scroll. And we finally learn about the  Scepter of MacGuffin. So here’s the story. Moses had the scepter. It originally belonged to an Egyptian god, and it had the power to raise/lower water levels. So let me get this straight. The Roman Catholic Vatican gang are looking for an artifact that belonged to another god. You’d think they’d be out to destroy it or maybe wouldn’t even believe in such a thing? But no! Go figure. Anyhoo, now the MacGuffin is with Richard the Lionhearted The problem is that bits of Richard are buried in three different places. Time for another quest!!!

Let’s review a little here.  Aside from Lazyboy Brolin, the acting is okay. Somerhalder and Cross are cool. The Giovanna chick plays her part well and the Waitress is pretty cool except for the fact that I think her voice  has been dubbed. I was about halfway through the movie before I realized that the filmmakers have dubbed a lot of folks in the movie.  People’s voices aren’t quite working with their faces/mouths.

My favorite character in the movie is the Vatican dude who can not only sight read the ancient text on all the artifacts that come his way, but he also knows all information right as it happens. He’s like a ninja showing up at opportune moments to add extra tidbits of useful info to our heroes. However, he does come across a little bit of a Nancy Know-It-All. I half wonder if the other priests sometimes wish he’d shut his trap. Also, are there only like a dozen or so priests at the New Vatican? And where’s the Pope? It seems to me that something as important as the Scepter of Another God (new name) or whatever might need to involve him. Of course, since we are having to appeal to a different god, then maybe it’s good for him to have some plausible deniability. Hmm…

Lost City Raiders tries to be some kind of adventure film, and there’s a little adventure. There’s also a lot of “huh?” and a little bit of “seriously?” in the movie. It’s eh…enjoyable if you go in knowing it’s not going to be a super awesome kind of film. But for an hour and a half, I was very entertained. The movie is part Tomb Raider, part Waterworld, and part something else–Fifth Element maybe? I don’t know. If you have any guesses, I’d love to hear, because this is the zaniest plot I’ve ever seen. It’s just hard to believe that the thing to save the world is some ancient yet very futuristic looking tech set on certain tectonic points around the globe that can only be automated using an ancient scepter created by an Egyptian god.

Makes no sense, but whatever, it seems to work for this movie. Willing suspension of disbelief…willing suspension of disbelief. I can do this, and so can you.

Final Side Note:  What is with the BAD music on dvd menu screens?  I know Lost City Raiders is a Made-for-TV movie, but seriously! The lyrics to the song are:  closer to heaven / not so far away from how it could be….here we are / both at first knowing that the stars won’t shine the way they used to be.  Huh??? That makes no sense, and the tune is like the kind that plays at the end of independent PSA’s. I expect to see rich prom kids donating their clothes to poor kids so they can enjoy the prom, and the rich prom kids then do do community service. IT’s just that bad. I’ve let it replay about 20 times now, and 3 days after watching this movie, the song is still in my head.

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About Andrea

Movie watcher; book addict; popular culture connoisseur; avid Tetris player. That's me!

Posted on June 26, 2012, in Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. The movie sounds like a mess of patchwork miscellany and clichés – worthy of a liqured up ice cream movie night drinking game.

    The Catholic Church bits sound quite plausible to me. The inner circles of the Church are very secretive. The spiel they feed the masses is to keep them on the righteous path while they research and hide any knowledge that would lead them to question the “Truth”. There is evidence from ancient societies all over the world that show a belief that humans are aliens to the earth or that ancient-ancients had access to other worldly beings. From your review, however, I’d say the plot isn’t meant to go further than what-if fantasy. I’m kinda disappointed there wasn’t a half neked demi-god that hands over the scepter to “the one” (the hot adventurous one, of course).

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