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|Index||15 reviews in total|
The Sci-Fi channel. Despite having some really good original TV series,
I always think of the network first and foremost as the
"Disaster/Monster B-movie network". Even its documentaries are
blatantly science fiction. That may come as a shock to some people, but
dude, you CAN'T find a crystal skull with a metal detector...
I only watched this movie because I was bored and I have a more than passing fascination with archaeology. I don't normally watch Sci-Fi Saturday.
Now, as a writer, I understand that ideas are a dime a dozen, but I also know that we've been out of ideas pretty much since we've had the ability to HAVE ideas. That said, I understand the similarities to The Librarian and Indiana Jones, but COME ON! Don't make the hero of this movie dress IDENTICALLY like Jones! That's just taking the similarity too far!
I applaud the idea of a female hero, but don't make her so gung-ho about guns that she admits they're her "security blanket" and continues using them after realizing time and time again the hard way that the monster's completely bulletproof.
I can also understand the need to draw in the young adult demographic, but having the tweenaged girl be a complete genius and outthink the adults in almost every scene smacks of badly written Mary Sue fanfiction, especially if the concerned father seriously makes such a stupid decision as to take the kid into the heart of the war in Iraq(wearing bright pink no less), let alone repeatedly exposing the kid to an invulnerable monster when there's a perfectly good hidden sanctuary where she'd be safe. There's a reason why we have satphones, people.
As for the writing, the movie was so completely predictable, it's hard to come up with a suitable adjective to describe it.
The delectable Dina Meyer and the normally competent Lochlyn Munro co-star in this turkey made for The Sci-Fi Channel, about archaeologists unleashing an unkillable monster from an Egyptian tomb. Meyer looks great in black leather and shooting two guns at a time a la Tomb Raider Lara Croft while Munro simply looks like an idiot in an Indiana Jones hat about two sizes too big for his head. The movie goes nowhere once the monster is unleashed, which happens about five minutes in. At times, the creature looks like a poor man's griffin; at other times, it morphs into a bad copy of Inhotep from the first two THE MUMMY movies. The dialog is from hunger, as is the acting. Other than tuning in to get a look at the beautiful Meyer, this one is best skipped.
A hacky pastiche of Indiana Jones, Lara Croft and a little of "The Librarian", with mediocre acting, a non-sensical script, and a shape-changing sphinx who is alternately mediocre CGI and laughable human. While not as truly vile as some of the SciFi channel offerings, there is little else to recommend this. You could find a worse way to waste two hours, but you would have to try. As usual, everywhere in the world (Greece, Iraq, etc.) look just like where the movie was shot, in this case Canada. The sets are either obviously something else (power plant standing in for secret underground base) or so minimal (burned out 50 gallon drums for Iraqi war zone, a few Styrofoam pillars for Greek ruins) as to be distractingly laughable. Everyone continues to shoot at the obviously bulletproof monster, and if you can't guess who the traitor is I hope your babysitter didn't ruin it for you.
Factual concerns have little to do with this melodramatic fantasy.
Forget the notion that you will learn anything about the Great Sphinx
of Giza, mythology, or, for that matter, cogent story design in the art
But you may enjoy seeing a strong cast working on green screen sets, trusting that the budget will be there to put them in a realistic and menacing setting. That trust was seriously misplaced.
I give it six stars because it crosses into the dreaded -- or prized -- "Plan 9" territory. Some will say this movie is a mess and a disaster. Others will say it's so bad it's actually fun to watch.
Filmmakers in this genre walk a fine line when they try to depict a fantastic scenario without losing the audience's suspension of disbelief. Here, the disbelief is unsuspended fairly early in Act One when the protagonist blows up his own house in order to kill a deadly mythical creature pursuing him. I was wishing I could be there when he gets around to explaining to the insurance adjusters what had happened.
The hero, Robert, is a high school teacher and language expert who transforms into an Indiana Jones clone as he and his allies jet from one ancient history site to another in search of clues to -- what else? -- the key to save humanity from a Biblical plague. Wait. Make that a pre-Biblical plague.
He does so with the help of Karen, his plucky teenage daughter, who has some kind of super-analytical skills that aren't really explained, and Jessica, a plucky operative of a super-secret paramilitary organization that labors outside of international law but somehow has the support of academics worldwide and seems to be intent on fighting the forces of evil. The fact that Jessica is a beautiful brunette who took her fashion sense from Catwoman gives this movie at least one leg up on similar Sci-Fi Channel fare.
My ultimate wish was that this was made as a comedy. That certainly must have been the conclusion of the closed-caption editors, who obviously had great fun. Several times every scene, when the pulsating soundtrack was turned up to explain motivation, the CC line was "music" -- flashing every 10 seconds. When Robert used his mystical amulet to try to break through an ancient Plexiglas barrier to save Jessica, the caption was "Bash, bash..." Indeed, this could be taken as a comedy until the last scene, when the climax unfolds in context of Ultimate Sacrifice. Certainly not the stuff of comedy.
This then, is the Riddle of the Riddles of the Sphinx. Is this a Disaster for the Ages or a misbegotten comedy of errant intent?
You be the judge.
I couldn't take this movie seriously from very early on in the movie.
The CGI department, or whomever was giving them instructions, obviously
didn't know what a sphinx looks like and decided to go with a strange
looking griffin instead. Even I could tell the difference between the
two creatures while I was still in grade school.
The acting was fairly poor. The make-up department should never be hired by anyone ever again. The bald guy looks like his head was shaved the day they stared filming and make-up never even tried to blend the skin tone.
The script was pathetic. I've seen some bad stuff on SciFi and this is one of the worst. The male lead just comes off as corny while the female lead is normally a much better actress. The little girl suffers from the Wesley Crusher syndrome. People don't like this so why do they keep using it as a plot device I will never understand.
No surprise - about what you would expect from a third rate network.
The budget was probably whatever the limit on the producer's credit
card was. All of the typical clichés for a poorly written / directed /
acted project that looks like it was done by a bunch of film students
over a weekend in Vancouver. (Yeah, we noticed that Egypt, Greece, and
Iraq all look a lot like British Columbia in the fall, cough, cough)
The only real surprise is that someone with the talent of Dina Meyer would agree to participate in this kind of garbage. Yeah she looked great, but come on, put any physically fit 40 year old actress in an outfit inspired by Laura Croft and they will too. Need the work that badly eh - what a shame.
A big waste of time and pretty sad considering how many other potentially decent projects didn't get bankrolled so this waste of film could.
Riddles of the Sphinx (2008) which I saw on the UK Sci-Fi Channel Today
out of boredom more than anything, is clearly a homage (Rip-off) of
Indiana Jones, Right down to the Main Character's job as a College
Professor and his choice of clothes complete with Indiana Jones style
The biggest problems with this is the dire acting and totally unconvincing performance by the lead actor
The budget is VERY low as most of the 'action' in filmed in front of not-very anonymous Backscreen...as The Filming ALL took place in Canada and There are only 4 characters in the entire Film...So the 'Double Agent' is obvious from the get go...
I'm a big fan of these types of Adventures, but this badly needed more money spent...and as a result my rating is low.
*1/2 out of *****
Watching Riddles of the Sphinx with little else to do, I was anticipating little and got almost nothing to write home about. Dino Meyer is a sexy and decently charismatic lead. However when it comes to redeeming qualities that's where Riddles of the Sphinx ends. The sets look minimal and nothing to done to make them interesting, and the costumes were reminiscent of the actors having had a fantasy-adventure movie fancy-dress party(or even about to have one). The editing is choppy and the effects particularly with the monster of the title are hopelessly cheap in quality. The script is aimless and filled with unfunny lines that were no doubt meant to be witty, and the story is structurally thin, unoriginal(if it was trying to pay homage to Indiana Jones it took the homage to extreme levels that it feels like a rip-off instead) and has no excitement whatsoever. The characters are badly-written clichés(SyFy clichés in alternative to genre clichés) with none of them likable or developed enough. I was especially irritated by the girl who seems to be cleverest of the bunch, I've seen that plot-device before and something about it always annoys me. The rest of the acting apart from Meyer suffers from the writing and characters, Lochlyn Munro is an especially unconvincing hero. Overall, with the exception of Meyer Riddles of the Sphinx just didn't engage. 2/10 Bethany Cox
An Egypt-themed B-movie from the Sci Fi Channel. I'm not sure that many
people will be wowed by this set-up or idea and indeed the execution
turns out to be just a poor as in many a film made by the channel. The
storyline sees a couple of heroic characters teaming up to battle an
ancient curse whereby a Sphinx is wreaking havoc in the modern world
and killing all who stand before it.
Despite the Egypt theme and setting, this cheapo movie was made in Canada and boy does it show. None of the sets are remotely convincing, the CGI effects are awful, and nowhere is there an air of authenticity. Instead, the film happily copies and combines the characters from the INDIANA JONES and TOMB RAIDER franchises, to ill effect. Dina Meyer (STARSHIP TROOPERS) is the ageing female lead, saddled with an awful hairstyle and trying desperately to be Angelina Jolie (hint: she isn't). Lochlyn Munro is the chubby, goofy Indiana Jones wannabe (he even dresses the same) and frankly he's an embarrassment. RIDDLES OF THE SPHINX is thus barely watchable.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I ended up watching this Canadian TV movie for the sole reason that I
saw that Lochlyn Munro was the lead actor, while he is not really
known, I saw him when he was young as part of the cast of the short
lived Hawkeye TV series, and I was pinched by curiosity about what he
was doing ten years after that. I had no expectations about the quality
of the film, and it turned out to be as bad as I was expecting, despite
this I kind of enjoyed it. The plot is so simple, a passage to another
dimension is opened and this act sets free a sphinx which, being
responsible of protecting the passage, goes on a rampage to kill those
responsible. The sphinx is not the only things that gets free, there's
also an ancient curse that will destroy the human race, our only hope
is a group made by a high school history teacher (Munro), his teenage
daughter, a femme fatale which is also his ex-girlfriend and the leader
of a government branch dealing with the supernatural. To stop the
sphinx they will have to solve a number of riddles and collect a series
of mystical stones hidden around the world.
I don't think no one watching this films thinks they are going to see something worth of remembering, but if someone does the very first scene, when the sphinx goes wild killing a number of people, should be enough to make clear the quality of the film. Bad acting and bad fx, the monster created with computer animation is terribly unrealistic and could be considered as a digital equivalent to the puppets seen in the worst sci-fi B movies. Sum to this that the two main characters are obvious copies of Indiana Jones and Lara Croft, that the script is totally predictable and with every possible common place included: a traitor in the group, a very smart girl, a reluctant hero. I could also talk about the unrealistic settings and the absurd presence in every encounter with the monster of a couple of extras added to the group with the sole purpose of giving the sphinx someone to kill.
But despite all the bad things told, I must say the film is bad, but not terrible, and it didn't bore me at any moment. If you know what you are up to then you can also have a good time watching it, and I guess that's what the creators of the film had in mind, it is a bad film, but it is entertaining. If you are in a good mood and with the correct company, then you can have fun checking the inconsistencies of the plot, or some laughable stuff like anti-gravity guns; the genius teenager, with the ability to calculate with mathematical precision the exact second in which a ricocheting bullet will stop; or the sphinx transformation into a human, a moment in which it is played by a wrestler that made me remember Tor Johnson, an actor appearing in Ed Wood films.
To finish I must say that the way in which the monster is finally stopped does have a little bit of originality. To sum everything up this is a predictable adventure lacking in both economical and artistic resources, but if you don't take it seriously you may enjoy it. Watching a bad film from time to time is good, as I think it helps you put the good stuff in the right perspective. And if you are watching something bad, then its better if its something like this which despite its shortcomings is good fun.
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