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I am not a big fan of these types of movies, but I have to say I was reasonably entertained for the most part(Admittedly, I watched this on TV, which could increase my tolerance level, but then again I saw JADE on TV as well). It sets things up nicely before the chase, it doesn't throw in a romantic angle just for the sake of throwing it in, the two leads, Penelope Ann Miller(remember when she was in big movies?) and Tom Sizemore, are both good, and once the chase starts, it's gripping. Admittedly, there are some flaws; having read the novel first, I knew how the creature came to be, which robbed some suspense(and while I appreciate that they had to take a shortcut to explain things, this was a little TOO short), while the photography needed to be dark, it was too dark at times, and Miller's colleague Greg(I forget the actor's name) veered uncomfortably close to stereotype. Still, this was an entertaining time-waster.
When a shipment of artefacts returns to America from South America the
police find decapitated bodies on board the ship. When a similar murder
occurs in the Chicago museum Lt D'Agosta suspects a psychotic killer and
shuts down the museum. With political pressures to keep the museum open for
an `opening gala' for Chicago's rich and famous, D'Agosta is forced to give
way but sets the place up with a police presence to deal with any trouble.
Meanwhile scientist Margo Green suspects that an empty crate of mysterious
leaves may have been more than just that and examines the potential that a
virus on the leaves caused some sort of creature to evolve. When the same
`evolution' attacks during the gala setting off the security alarms and
locking down the museum it becomes a fight for survival and
When this came out in the cinema I felt that that was not the best place to see a film like this and decided to wait for video or TV. I finally saw it on TV last night and feel that my gut feeling was right the small screen is the best place to see this film. At a cinema you may have higher expectations than you would if you watched it in the comfort of your own home on a lazy Saturday night and that might have hurt this film because honestly it's not that good a film. However as a video you perhaps have a lower expectation and then this film is a nice little surprise.
It is without it's own style or ideas but it is an effective monster movie which, in a nutshell, is really what it is. The film follows the traditional formula of all these types of things monster loose, location sealed or remote, characters separated and picked off in the order you expect until the hero gets the better of it. In that sense this is without any new ideas but and doesn't shine on the plot front but it is an effective little movie. Not particularly scary but more gore than I expected and the film manages to keep the beast frightening by keeping it in the shadows for the majority even after we've seen it, it is still shot in darkness. In fact the way the film is moved into darkness adds to the tension and makes it more exciting. Of course it isn't fantastic but it does do what you expect a monster movie to do, which is my point. It's main weakness is that it plays it very straight (although the mood made by the darkness helps this) many monster movies have successfully gone more tongue in cheek and done well (Deep Rising from the same period comes to mind. However, having gone the straight road the film does stick to it well despite a very unlikely explanation for the beast.
The cast are par for the course with this type of film no big stars but support cast given bigger roles. Sizemore is on good form and is at home in the lead of this type of film, I doubt he could carry a blockbuster but he is good. Miller has done better films and she is OK, sadly she is lumbered with all the science stuff and isn't as impacting until near the end. To contrast the two characters there was a 20 minute spell in the middle where both Sizemore and Miller are absent from the action (in different areas) I noticed Sizemore's absent but it wasn't until Miller came back that I noticed she was gone. The rest of the cast are the usual monster food and you can almost predict who will live and die without 30 seconds of them being introduced selfish arrogant scientist? How long do you think he'll last!?
Despite this and other clichés the film is good enough to watch as long as you know what you are getting it is certainly better than a lot of the creature feature movies you can get at your video store and the mood produced by the director in all that darkness helps it along nicely. Not great but better than average for the genre.
A researcher at Chicago's National History Museum returns from South America with some crates containing his findings. When the crates arrive at the museum without the owner there appears to be very little inside. However, police discover gruesome murders on the cargo ship that brought the crates to the US and then another murder in the museum itself. Investigating the murders is Lt. Vincent D'Agosta who enlists the help of Dr. Margo Green at the museum - she has taken an interest in the contents of her colleague's crates. Unknown to both there is a large creature roaming the museum which is gearing itself up for a benefit reception which the city's mayor is to attend. A horrific monster, haunting the lower-levels of the museum, shows up uninvited. Peter Hyam's "The relic" is a atmospheric, sinister, dark horror movie that scared the hell out of me! I loved the book and the films just as good. There's lots of gory decapitations and the creature effects from Stan Winston studios are beautifully done. A dark work of art, not some crappy "Monster-on-the-loose" film many have called it. 10/10.
Overall I liked this movie until I read half the reviews--done before, simplistic, not realistic, etc. It is not a GREAT sci fi movie, but it is not as ridiculous as most of the genre. Best feature is that none of the major characters behave idiotically to further the plot. One never feels compelled to yell "Turn around, stupid!" or "No. Don't go into the basement alone!" or "Please turn on the lights!" or (to the heroine) "Don't you remember it's invulnerable to bullets?" The heroine is afraid throughout the movie (shouldn't she be?), but is she irrational at any time? The curmudgeonly, wheelchair-bound senior researcher is trapped on an upper floor, but does he emerge at the end from his place of hiding behind the computer console? The detective is disbelieving at first, but does he obstruct and endanger in the end? The science may be unbelievable (it's like finding a mummy curse) and that prevents this from being a great sci fi, but the behavior of the characters seems authentic (researchers who know their environment) and that is this movie's major strength.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I really liked this film, as much for what went unsaid as for what was.
The film gives us some odd ideas concerning characterizations.
For example, Detective Vincent D'Agosta (Tom Sizemore) is a VERY superstitious policeman. He obviously believes that old-fashioned good luck plays a major role in life- witness his response to the idea of stepping over a corpse ("Don't step over it! It's bad luck!") and the importance to which he attributes the position of a dropped penny (Face-up or Face-down.) And indeed, luck DOES play a major role for him: he enters the security control room just AFTER the two guards on duty have been killed and the monster has departed; when he runs after Brantley in the tunnels he finds the creature's lair and the decapitated body of Brantley just AFTER the Kathoga has headed upstairs for a snack.
I also like the characterization of the Kathoga. Unlike the Alien in ALIEN, the Kathoga doesn't seem interested in killing anything for the hell of it. It kills the humans for the hormones it needs to live, and it kills the first of two dogs (we don't see it, but obviously the dog attacked it, hence its response was quite normal.) When the other dog whimpers and cowers against a wall, the Kathoga stops momentarily to look at it, but since the dog doesn't possess the necessary hormones and isn't attacking, the creature moves on.
On to special effects. I liked them, too. The attack sequence in which the beast makes a standing leap at the SWAT man on the rappelling line, soars in a perfect arc through the air and brings the guy down is a great visual piece. The monster itself was very well animated.
One more thing: in most older horror films where someone ships something, the item sent causes some sort of havoc once it reaches its destination; in this film the item shipped provides the key to what the creature is and how it became what it was.
I think this is worth the time of anyone who likes a good, old-fashioned monster movie.
Folks complain about the fact that this movie lacks realism on the
side of things. Supercomputers and bio-jargon are all over the place in
this movie. That's all true.
However, I do not watch movies for education. I watch them for entertainment. This movie scared me silly, and *that's* why I give the film an 8. It had some cheesiness - including the computer junk - so it doesn't rate a ten, but it was certainly a pretty darn good horror flick.
One great thing about it is that they knew where and how to end it. They brought the story to a close before you got bored with the monster. Kudos to the writers for making it fearsome all the way to the end, and also to Tom Sizemore for doing a great job with his character. He's a pretty believable cop.
Find a friend with a big TV and watch this thing in the dark with a cute girl. You won't be disappointed if you're looking for a good story with a good scare. It ain't Shakespeare, but it's definitely worth watching.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The reason why films with huge monsters are so worn-out nowadays is
because we have seen so many of these menaces since the 50's that we
hardly find believable that someone runs or screams if he or she knows
that a big monster is on the rampage. The Relic fixes that matter with
a clever idea; the characters don't really know what they are facing.
This was what made great all the monster movies in the past.
Peter Hyams with The Relic delivers the necessary amount of scares and also generates some real suspense, and construct the ambient of museums and archeology correctly.
Both Tom Sizemore and Penelope Ann Miller are great here, and it is a real mature detail that the script doesn't force a romantic involvement between them. This kind of details may appear to be useless but they actually allow the scriptwriters to be more creative. In that aspect Vincent D'Agosta (Sizemore) is really an unusual hero, plenty of flaws he certainly is not the all-ready for action cop we'll expect, and Dr. Margo Green (Miller) is the same case but as sidekick.
The movie doesn't let the viewer take a breath, and has some unexpected revelation and some well achieved gory moments but not abusive. A sample of what were monster movies before the coming of things like Anaconda and its clones.
This one is my favorite of all monster movies. It has the perfect
violence and gore. As the monster itself. Before I bought this movie I
checked out some comments at IMDb, and they where pretty good. So I
spent my savings on it, and when I got home I saw it alone at night. I
jumped a few times, specially on the see where we see for the first
time the monster attacking. The story is awesome and imaginative, like
the ancient relic and the lost tribe that makes a drink with some
leaves that further in the film we see that those leaves carry a red
fungus that contain lots of different animal hormones. He drinks the
drink, and starts to feel strange, and later he transforms into a
creature that needs those leaves with the fungus to survive. If he
doesn't has the leaves he rips off peoples heads and eats its
hipotalamus(part of the brain)that contain the same hormones. Then the
monster goes to the coal tunnels and reaches the museum, and strange
murders happen in the museum. The special efx are good as so the
mechanical beast. Tom Sizemore has a good role playing detective
"Vincent D'Agosta", so as Penelope Ann Miller playing Biologist Margo
Green. Both acting and dialogue is very good. And I truly recommend
this one if you are a "monster" movie lover like me.
I give this one 9 stars. Enjoy it if you dare see this movie.
This is one of these movies where you don't expect much, just another crude horror mix. But if you watch it you will be pleasently surprised. It is not a bad movie. In fact it's very good, and more of a thriller really than a horror film. The story is well told (D Preston and L Child did a great job in putting their marvellous novel on screen) and although obviously a lot shorter than the book none of the important elements are missing. Especially in the beginning you might get the impression that P Hyams is more concerned with the camera work than the actual directing but as the movie continues these thoughts become secondary - together with an interesting cast he achieves to make the movie as good as possible, considering it's obvious limits. Another thing that I was very impressed with were the special effects. There aren't many but the ones they have are great. Especially with FX I tend to believe less is more. Instead of spending their money on lots of crudely made effects the makers of this movie keep you in suspense until they unleash their monster. Well done - go and see it (and read the books - The Relic and Reliquary)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I watched this in the cinema 3 times way back when it was released. I
thought at the time (being 15 and all), that it was a pretty cool
horror movie without actually knowing why. Watching it again recently,
I finally understand why I like it more than the usual rubbish that
passes for horror nowadays.
The Relic is pretty starts off weird with an inexplicable (yet ultimately rewarding) opening scene, then for most of the movie it veers into a police investigation. Very rarely do we get a monster and it all focuses on the characters and their mundane conflicting interests. So there's Lt. D'Augusta and Sgt. Hollingsworth trying to figure out how their case at the docks connects with a museum murder with the same MO and the overall relation to Dr. Margo Greene's story and her entwining connections to the case.
The film builds on each character so they're never faceless when in the last 40 minutes, the film rapidly switches gear into a full on monster movie (One of Stan Winston's decent designs before he was shunned in favour of CGI) and people start getting picked off in true horror fashion. Weirdly enough, it never feels like two different movies. The whole film is about conflict (Greene's science vs D'Augusta's superstition, police vs rent-a-cops, heroes vs monster, etc) and the story's narrative integrates itself pretty well into the themes on display.
There's a great handle in editing and direction at one point where exhibition opens; D'Augusta and Hollingsworth finally realise they're dealing with more than a serial killer in the sub-basements and sewers, while everyone upstairs is oblivious to what's happening below. The movie for a while just keeps flicking between these scenes leading to a nightmare scenario that lasts the rest of the movie. Strangely though, the editing gets too frantic after this and makes several scenes confusing at times (probably to disguise the monster and the remaining budget...)
Yes, there are some bad moments...plot holes get the film going, the CGI is very dated ('expensive then, but easily recreated now' kind of look), the creature seems to pop up everywhere within seconds and the lighting, though realistic, is just too dark to truly appreciate the visuals. Oh and there are several characters who are unlikeable just because they need to justify the body count.
It's a decent movie though and one to watch if you want something a bit different rather than the usual stalk-and-slash. It's also one of the rare instances where the movie is better than the book!
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