June 16, 2012

It's Caturday! The Ghost and the Darkness (1996)

What's this? Is Dr Blood really starting a post without a YouTube video or an Amazon affiliate link? Has the updated Blogger interface finally kicked in and the end of all good things begun? Nope, I just couldn't find a decent trailer and I don't have the patience to look up the Amazon code for a movie you will never buy anyway.

Yes, it's Caturday! This is the day of the week when the internet goes dead, all the cats which run the internet go out to play, and nobody reads blogs. So, just for the sake of having a weekend post, I watched "The Ghost and the Darkness" AKA "Jaws on land with lions not sharks" ('cos, like, land sharks would be stupid, yo!).

In case you've never heard of it, yes, indeed, "The Ghost and the Darkness" really is an African-based version of "Jaws". Having never read the true story which this is based on ('cos, yeah, I'm ignorant), all I watched this for was the lions. I LOVE LIONS! I love lions almost as much as I love other cats... or tigers. Actually, I'm not much fussed about tigers since they are bigger, smellier and I don't like sugar on my cornflakes. No, I'm lying (lion, geddit?), of course, I love tigers too. It's cougars that worry me.

So anyway, I got this DVD from the pawn shop a couple of weeks ago because I'd never seen it (did I mention that I love lions?) and stuck it in my bedroom DVD player for the cats and me to fall asleep to. Well, that was the plan.

In the sweltering heat, three stretched-out heaps of fur (shut your dirty mind, right now!), soon fell asleep without even noticing that the movie didn't get past the menu screen. When I (one of the furry heaps) woke up, I realised that the DVD had an error on it so I had to put it in my computer to play it instead. It came up as "undefined" rather than "DVD Video" but it still played. I have no idea about these things. I just buy them and watch them.

Anyway (again), I started watching it and it was all yadda, yadda, yadda, with Val Kilmer doing the worst Irish accent I'd ever heard and Tom Wilkinson being an asshole. Then the scene changed to some nonsense with Emily Mortimer who I fancy, want to feed, and detest the scratchy voice of, all at the same time. I really hoped that was the end of her part in the movie and I was glad that she disappeared until right at the end.

So I'm watching this historical, period piece, drivel meander on for another 15 minutes until Val Kilmer's character killed a lion which I knew wouldn't be the man-eater since this is "Jaws" all over again, right? It trundled along with more padding and two-dimensional characterisation until, at 32 minutes in, this happened:

I was all like "YEAH!" and "KEWL!" and, the lion was all like landing like Kate Beckinsale in "Underworld" but like tearing people apart and stuff... but then I realised that I wasn't a 12 year old girl and stopped thinking like that.

The action was as short lived as the acting careers of the lions' dinners and it was another 15 minutes until something happened again. I had noticed a pattern forming in which the action scenes with lions were occurring every 15 minutes and it was amusing me how poorly constructed and obvious this method was.

At the 45 minute mark, the Christian missionary guy who was quite likeable got his throat ripped out (which was lush!) and, thus, it was revealed that the first lion wasn't the killer and now there were two more. Nature abhors a vacuum which is why you don't interfere with cats and their territory but all these people were pretty dumb anyway.

The lions, in reality named Bongo and Caeser [sic], were renamed "The Ghost" and "The Darkness" by the superstitious natives who were building a bridge. Did I not mention that the whole reason any of these idiots were in the middle of nowhere was to build a bridge? Well, probably because that trivial detail didn't interest me. Like I said, I only wanted to watch this for the lions.

A curious thing was that Michael Douglas was given top billing in this yet it was almost an hour before he appeared. I know he produced this garbage but you can take vanity too far. His character was completely fictitious, called Remington (either after the gun or the typewriter), and was basically Quint but less boozy and a little bit brighter. He still wasn't all that bright though.

I'm not sure when this happened ('cos I was dozing again) but Quint, I mean Remington, shot this lion and Patterson (Val Kilmer) finished him off. THE BASTARDS! Two against one? So not fair. Yeah, ok, so the lions had eaten hundreds of African and (bizarrely) Indian bridge builders without so much as indigestion but they are LIONS! Who cares about people when you have LIONS?

The amount of stupidity in this movie, what with making a giant "inhumane" cat trap, a wobbly bridgey-thing which you just knew anyone shooting a gun from would fall off, and, then, finally, to climb a tree to escape a lion... HELLO! A lion is a big CAT! What do cats do? They climb trees, yeah?

I was past caring at this point. The glorious scene of Emily Croaky-voice and her baby getting eaten had turned out to be a stupid dream, the great white hunter Remington had disappeared in a bloody crop circle, and, since I'd lost all the enjoyment that I was previously having, when it came for Colonel Patterson to get the movie back to historical accuracy by finally shooting the lion, I was just glad that it was all over.

Everything ended all nice and happy, the bridge was built, the Pattersons and their sprog were reunited, and the lion skins were taken to a museum in Ohio or some such nonsense.

Do I recommend this film? No. Even if I hadn't seen "Jaws" and all its sequels, this would still have been pretty desperate stuff. On the plus side, it had lions in it.

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