3 men + 1 woman in hot air balloon to Africa face dangerous animals, violent weather, thirst, native tribes & Arabs.
The director + cast + Jules Verne are ingredients enough to make this film merit watching. René Cardona, Jr. who besides receiving directorial credit for this film is also listed among the names responsible for screenplay and novel adaption. He has not only directed such cult favorites as Night of a 1000 Cats(1972), Tintorera(1977) and The Bermuda Triangle(1978) all with Hugo Stiglitz, but wrote Night of the Bloody Apes(1969) and Survive(1976) as well. Surprisingly, though, his credits are more diversified than this. He has worked with comedy genius Mauricio Garces in Modista de Señoras(1969), musical greats Lucero and Luis Miguel in Fiebre de Amor(1985) and even had worked on a prior literary film adaption in the form of Robinson Crusoe(1970). Hugo Stiglitz, besides the aforementioned title was in the popular horror films Invasion de los Zombies Atomicos(1980) and Cementario del Terror(1985), as well as John Huston's Under the Volcano(1984). Jorge Zamora was in several "Tin-tan" films and Romancing the Stone(1984). And Carlos East is best known for working with Boris Karloff in "Fear Chamber" & "The Snake People". The story concerns one Doctor Samuel Ferguson(Hugo Stiglitz) complete with monocle, Scottish adventurer Richard Kennedy(Jeff Cooper) and the Dr.'s servant/right hand man, as well as the film's comic foil, Joe Wilson(Jorge Zamora) on a quest to explore via hot air balloon land yet uncharted in 1862 Africa. The story is more loyal to the novel than Irwin Allen's version but there is still an additional character included in this remake as well. She is Victoria Parker(Carmen Vicarte) who was about to be sacrificed in order to save the sultan's life but is rescued by Ferguson & company. For a family film she has an even sexier outfit than Caroline Munro in the similarly family friendly At the Earth's Core(1976) or the women in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger(1977). Carlos East makes up for playing Herod Antipas and crucifying Christ in "La Vida de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo" by being crucified himself,somewhat like Burt Lancaster in Valdez is Coming(1971). Mr. East is almost unrecognizable in his cameo as a French missionary with long hair and gray beard. The film is enjoyable and adequately handled, but the director may have thought the story,cast & on location shooting would be enough whereas stronger direction was needed to bring the movie to a higher level. The colors are sharp and exquisite, so much so that this may be one film not in need of restoration. Practically a quarter of "Viaje..." could be considered a nature film with the amount of mammals making an appearance. Highlights of the movie include wind storms, an elephant pulling the balloon's anchor, an encounter with a mischievous group of Rhesus monkeys, crocodile attacks, a gold find and last but not least, beautiful pink flamingos! Victoria Parker, who's first name is also that of the hot air balloon(both here & in the novel) has her hair covered through most of the movie which strikes one as odd, although it could be a custom of her people. Her head covering becomes lost, though, when taking a dive in the water. Kennedy goes shirtless through much of the film, and yet when he goes for a swim, his shirt remains on! As far as romance, they have only one hug and a "blink your eye you'll miss it" kiss! In how many jungle pictures do the women fall in a mud hole? As Kennedy & Victoria are running together, she is the one who falls in it. Not unlike what happened to 2 main female characters in a 2007 episode of "Lost". And unlike the African Queen(1951), Victoria is beset with thorns. And it is not a shock that one of the few close-ups in a René Cardona Jr. movie is that of the previously mentioned appendage on Victoria's bloody leg! The VHS viewed was in the original language and at 109 minutes was longer than Irwin Allen's 1962 version.
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