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Over the years I've seen some pretty decent story ideas that the SciFi
Channel has used as a basis for original films. They've usually gone to
the bad because the money and/or skill needed to make them A quality
entertainment just wasn't there.
THE SANDS OF OBLIVION gives them the chance to mess up not a good idea but a potentially awesome one that could have been as exciting as THE MUMMY or RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. Unfortunately, the great idea just fizzles out.
The basis of the story is that when Cecil B. DeMille made the original, silent THE TEN COMMANDMENTS the studio bulldozed the elaborate sets in the California desert instead of recycling the lumber and other building materials. It seems that there had been genuine Egyptian artifacts used in the set and something Very Bad had been unleashed.
In the present day people are digging up the old desert location, and Something Bad is once again free to roam the Earth.
The cast is adequate to the job, and the special effects are really pretty decent. But the script and direction are uneven, and the film never finds a consistent tone. It veers into comedy and seems to disregard the numerous people killed by the newly unleashed monster. Near the end there's a dune buggy race that's professionally filmed but seems to have been cut in from another movie.
The original TEN COMMANDMENTS had a segment set in contemporary times (the 1920's) concerning the building of a cathedral with substandard material and the tragedy of putting cost and convenience in too high a position. A similar theme could have been developed with the lumber, which would be very well preserved in a desert climate.
THE SANDS OF OBLIVION is certainly worth watching, but the main thing I kept thinking was what might have been.
Which is actually one of those "Leper with the most fingers"
The plot is kind of straightforward. We discover that an ancient evil was entrapped in an artifact. That artifact was moved to the United States by Cecil B. Demille, who used it in his first version of the Ten Commandments, then inexplicably buried the sets in the middle of the desert.
Flash to the present day, where a married couple of archaeologists played by Firefly veterans Adam Baldwin and Morena Baccarin, uncover the city, with the help of an Iraq War vet and his grandfather. What follows are the typical made for TV kills of ancillary characters, a dune buggy chase and some bad CGI.
Still, I'm recommending this film on the basis of the characterizations by Baldwin and Baccarin.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
While the idea is more original than most Sci-Fi movies, the execution is, as usual lacking. While the practical mummy effects are not bad, and the "Gun Nut" character is over the top giggle inducing, the only real draw is to see Morena Baccarin and Adam Baldwin reunited on the small screen. I suspect that was the idea all along. They do the best they can with what they have but the "must see" moments for me were in the first 40 minutes or so when Morena's character sported some Tomb Raider style shorts. Not high brow cinema I know but you can't deny true beauty when you see it!!! And Adam Baldwin once again hams it up as the guy you love to hate. If you just want to watch a couple of your favorite Firefly characters have a good time with some sub par material then this might be for you. If you want good acting and character development then be advised to look elsewhere.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Watching the first 30 minutes of Sands of Oblivion gave me high hopes. It seemed I was in for a cheaper version of the Mummy. The setup was promising, in the 1920's Cecil B. Demille makes his opus of the Ten Commandments. It seems in using real Egyptian artifacts for the movie set they unleashed an ancient and terrible evil (don't they always?). Aware of what had been unleashed DeMille orders the entire set buried instead of the usual practice of tearing it down. Hopefully the evil will be buried with it for all time. Then we switch to present day where a team is attempting to excavate the site (the movie's first mistake, but hey those period costumes are expensive and this is a Sci-Fi channel movie). The first sightings we get of the Anubis monster are well done and it's a costume that they put some effort into and not the usual cheesy CG effect. Then the body counts starts. This is were the movie went south for me. The reactions to the fact that people are dying in gruesome and strange ways gets a strangely subdued reaction. Once they realize that the ancient evil has again been unleashed and is on a killing spree what do the stock issue leading man and lady do? They make the usual stop to the "guy who knows the truth but never told anyone". After getting that vital information do they share it with the comrades at the dig site? No, they stop off at a hotel for a refreshing shower and some pleasant small talk. Really I'm not the most motivated person but if I knew a demon from ancient Egypt was on the loose and killing everyone in sight and would be coming after me I'd put a little hustle in my step to solve the problem. After this overlong and pointless middle section they get around to destroying the Anubis monster in the usual way, by racing around in dune buggies and shooting it with a rocket launcher while it's standing by a pile of phosphorous grenades. For a Sci-Fi movie it was above the usual crap they put out, which isn't saying much at all. What disappoints me is this could have been a lot more if someone had wrote a decent script for it.
I'm rating this movie based on the average tripe that shows up on
Scifi, often unfit for the name of the channel. Having said that, this
is still an enjoyable escape for an afternoon or evening.
The plot is quite original, and it's a shame it wasn't used in a major feature production. Still, the plot was fast-moving and not too hole-y. And while it was a budget production, the effects were very serviceable and did not detract from the film. The second-to-final fight scene, in particular, sums that up. It has to be seen to be believed.
Having two leads from the Firefly cast didn't hurt, either. So it was a real surprise to find it getting 3.7 on IMDb. I think a bit of it has to do with a question posted on the message board here: what's an Egyptian God, "a false god", doing with the Ten Commandments?
If you're not a fundamentalist like that, I think you can enjoy this film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Like more than a few others, my main reason for watching this
masterpiece was the presence of Firefly actors. However, it soon
revealed itself as one of those wonderfully unintentionally bad movies
that when watched with friends and alcohol provide more entertainment
than most sit-coms. I gave this 3/10 for content but as a comedy this
would be a solid 9!
The opening bad CGI sets the scene and from there things only disintegrate: weak, indecisive plot that seems cobbled together from every archaeologically themed movie of the past decade; the sort of wooden acting that dominates made for TV movies; surreal dialogue; unnecessary characters; a Police car/buggy chase for no apparent reason and special effects that appear to have suffered extreme budget cuts.
Despite these faults, there are a few excellent reasons that this movie is worth watching: 1) Adam Baldwin shamelessly not bothering to act for the duration. 2) The jackal monster with hair made from stripped VHS tape. 3) The romantic tension with cringe-worthy double entendres. 4) The incongruous way that the Ancient Egyptian spoken is almost flawless. 5) The monster was apparently the Egyptian god of chaos and infertility (the horror!). 6) The Sheriff's hair. 7) The moment when Morena Baccarin chokes back non-existent tears and delivers the line 'at least he's buried with ancient history, the only thing he ever truly loved' with all the sincerity of a Hallmark greeting card. 8) The scene where our hero bravely defeats the murals. 9) The way that nobody ever considers it odd that there's an archaeological dig aimed at uncovering a film set...
So while this warrants a 9/10 on the comedy scale, whatever happens, do not make the mistake of watching this film seriously...
Sands of Oblivion is not a bad movie, it's just that it is not a particularly good one either. It did have potential to be though, with one of the best ideas SyFy ever had. The acting while not great is pretty decent, the dune buggy chase is exciting, the film is photographed quite nicely in more places than not and there is some striking scenery. However, the special effects are uneven, none of them are as bad as the ones(for example) for Titanic II but while some are serviceable, others are on the cheap side. The script is rather lazy and never consistent in tone, the story lacks thrills, a genuine sense of adventure and suspense for a movie typical of this genre and is never sure of what it wants to be and the characters are underdeveloped and clichéd(not just genre clichés but SyFy clichés too). In conclusion, lacklustre, had a wonderful idea and started off promisingly but fizzled out. 4/10 Bethany Cox
TV movie about an ancient Egyptian curse brought to the US in the 20's
during the filming of DeMille's first version of the 10 Commandments
and which is reawakened when DeMille's sets are unearthed in the
One of the worst films I've seen in a long time.
The question is were the filmmakers serious or kidding when they made this film? If this is serious its a laughably bad movie and a great film to pick on for its badness. If its a comedy its less good but funny for all of the wrong reasons.You will laugh long and hard AT this film, probably more than many other Hollywood "comedies".
Ancient Egyptian mythology, archaeologists, Iraq War Veterans, various weapons, and dune buggies. Sounds like a recipe for a cool Indiana Jones movie, right? Negative. 15 minutes in, I was wondering how I was going to make it through the rest of this movie. First off, the monster was ridiculous, but not even in a campy, funny way. The script was unnatural, cliché, and generally awful. The story/plot, or what tried to pass for one, was terrible, with no real set up for the puzzle that ultimately needed to be solved to beat the monster. While this movie tried to be exciting by employing military weapons and characters, the stunts and fight scenes involving them were simple and fake-looking. Further, the movie tried to seem knowledgeable about the military by having Webster indignantly explain to Baccarin the difference between a "jarhead" and a "soldier," but in the same breath, the former logistics soldier referred to himself as a "grunt," which is not an Army-specific term, but instead refers to infantrymen, which he was not. The only bright spots in this film were the dune buggy stunts, the Ancient Egypt scene in the beginning, a small cameo by Richard Kind, and a funny- while-convincing performance by Charles Lister as weirdo Vet-turned-gun- runner Buford. You could watch this for free at IMDb through Hulu, but I think it's better suited for tying down your worst enemy Clockwork- Orange-style and making him/her watch it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Three and a half stars! Unbelievable.
I like and respect the cast, which is why I sat through it, but this is one of those films that should have been aborted at script level. Doesn't make any sense, excessively bloody (for no reason), very poor special effects, insulting mangulation of Egyptian religion and a monster that can't seem to decide if it's a mummy or a god and keeps repeating its one line (Uraghah) ad nausea-um.
The last scene says it all, with Loony-Toons Ancient Egyptian soldiers pealing off ruin walls like paper cut-outs and, apparently, equally durable.
The greatest bad movie sin: neither funny nor entertaining.
If the scale extended to negative stars, I'd have given it -10 with lots of exclamation points.
Clicked spoiler box to avoid being blacklisted and yes, mangulation is not a real word, yet.
Just tripped over it again on SyFy and will revise my initial review: you should watch it at least once just to watch the cast doing a heroic job of trying to carry the show.
Otherwise, it's worse than I remember. Absolutely nothing, from plot to dialog, makes any sense. Just one scene, George Kennedy standing on a sandy sand dune at a beach, using a walker, says it all. Except for the next scene, where a hole opens up beneath him and he winds up hanging upside down looking at a statue of Anubis wiggling its ears. In a 'chamber' with no visible source of light. A walker on an excessively sandy, like Sahara sandy, beach (and where's the ocean?) And watching Anubis wiggling it's ears in a totally darker than midnight room? No wonder Kennedy's character drops dead immediately thereafter (who do I have to F... to get out of this movie?)
My first time around I must of been spending so much time trying to keep my jaw from dropping that I missed how the performances verge just on the edge of camp.
Am example - the Primary (leader of the dig) is focusing on the day's finds (tight center frame) when she's attacked by that same Anubis, cutting to the silhouette of her tent as she's being strangled - an obvious reference to Boris Karloff's Mummy and reminiscent of a Betty Boop cartoon. (And how come monsters never seem to think of something else to do with sexy victims?)
Oddly, I'm finding those performances engaging, no matter how bad the dialog. Like watching people talking gibberish (or French) totally seriously.
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