The film's villain, Doctor Eric Kiviat, is loosely based on Dr. Roy Mackal (University of Chicago; biologist, engineer, teacher and biochemist) and his voyages to Africa in search of the legendary living dinosaurs of the Congo, Mokele-Mbembe. Mackal's 1980 Congo trip with fellow cryptozoologist, James Powell, was a featured segment on an episode of "Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World" television series. See more »
Too violent for the grownups and too childish for the teens, but not without some guilty pleasures
The unbelievably awkwardly titled Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend was an even more problematic attempt by Disney to update their family fare for an audience that increasingly avoided films with the Walt Disney logo than The Black Hole was a few years earlier (it was released by Disney's 'adult' label Touchstone with a much more deserved PG rating). On one level it's an apparently family-friendly Gorgo-esquire tale of Sean Young and William Katt discovering a would-be cute baby dinosaur in the African jungle and trying to protect it from Patrick McGoohan's ruthless palaeontologist, but it's also set in a much more realistic Africa than you'd have seen had Uncle Walt been calling the shots, rife with civil war, dictatorships, corruption and violence. Think E.T. with AK47s. When Baby's pop gets machine-gunned to death by government troops, it's certainly a reminder that executive producer Roger Spottiswoode cut his teeth as one of Sam Peckinpah's editors on Straw Dogs and The Getaway. Unfortunately, undercutting the realism is Baby itself. While the Mokele Mobembe, Africa's own land-based Loch Ness Monster, may be a dinosaur, it's not one of the really cool ones like a meat-eating Tyrannosaurus Rex, Allosaurus or Velociraptor but a Brontosaurus (or Apatosaur as they're now known), famed for lumbering along while chomping on the local flora and fauna. To make matters worse, since this is pre-CGi, and with stop-motion too complicated for the jungle locations and Jurassic Park technology still a long way off, that means animatronics and men in rubber suits. While the grown-up critters just about pass muster, junior is a particularly unconvincing bit of rubber and latex with big eyes and limited expression As a result the film is particularly schizophrenic as it hovers between the realistic and the ridiculous: it's too violent for the grownups and the beastie's too childish for the teens, though it still manages to score some points as a sporadically guilty pleasure. Jerry Goldsmith's score is an interesting bridge between his work on Legend and his subsequent score for Rambo: First Blood Part II, with some good action cues and a fine, albeit brief, fanfare for the dinosaurs. And you do get to see the writer of Gosford Park chased by an angry momma dinosaur
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