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Of cause, a TV budget allows for just so much. There is a golden rule
in the receipt of a good movie, that one is "You are only allowed to
create one lie". But with some creations, this rule can be hard to
obey, if you do not come up with an extra million in the budget.
When this is said, the movie contains some great ideas with a great potential for exploring imagination and the inner child - but remains childish, or something that could fit a children's channel, if it were not for the blood and gore.
There is no excuse for poor timing (like when few seconds to act, becomes 30 seconds of horrifying embarrassment), no excuse for poor scenery (like when two prehistoric native Americans are running on a path carved by 21. century wheel tracks) or when someone shot in the leg, is switching between unbearable agony and a little limp - with seconds in between.
The actors delivered a far more convincing B movie act, which I would say were disgraced by an incompetent crew, a story that wouldn't even convince a 5 year old and a cutter and director who seem to have made a last effort in destroying this movie technically.
I'm not even sure if this was a SciFi Channel production or not; if
not, it certainly had all the hallmarks of one. Silly storyline, poor
CGI, large plot holes, etc, etc, etc.
I won't reveal anything about the plot - not that it would matter really, the same story has been done many times. Lost scientist, searchers, treasure, ancient god, ignorant tribe of lost natives, et al. This time it takes place, miraculously enough, in the Grand Canyon, in some area that has never, ever been seen before by white men.
If you would care to spend two hours staring blankly at your TV while marveling at stultifyingly bad acting, this is the movie for you. You may be entertained during commercial breaks though. Also, Shannen Doherty is still somewhat recognizable, in a puffy kind of way.
I must admit that I saw this, because I heard Doherty was playing the
main role (if there is one..). I love her movies Since Charmed.
Anyways, this movie is so predictable, you'll think you were the one who produced it.
The monster/god (or so they say...) is way too animated. But it's not just that. There's a scene in which a man is killed and you can clearly see that a red ink bucket or something in that style was thrown at the wall. The costumes and the actors also look too goofy. They don't exactly look or sound like some scientists/miners whatever.
I also think they rushed a little TOO MUCH at the end. Things with no sense started to happen, so they could put an end to it.
I think they wasted Doherty's talent in a weak, predictable movie.
Also, it's always the same story. Scientists getting lost, miners dying...
If you are a Doherty fun like me, then you'll probably make it to the end.
I'm sure that most of my enjoyment of The Lost Treasure of the Grand
Canyon was based on the fact that I had sat through the horrible The
Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor the night before I saw this. That is
not to say that The Lost Treasure of the Grand Canyon is a great
picture, or even a very good one, but it is a much more competently
made monster movie than most made these days (such as The Mummy 3). The
director of 'Grand Canyon' is Farhad Mann, a man whose previous film
work I am unfamiliar with. Based on the evidence presented here, I
would say if given a proper budget and a better script, he just might
be able to deliver a great sci-fi flick. As it is, Mann does what he
can with what he is given. The sets and special effects are not top
notch, but the editing is well done as opposed to distracting like with
the majority of the genre pictures produced these days. Mann keeps the
gore to a minimum and keeps the mysterious monster(s) on screen for
just the right amount of time. Again, the special effects aren't great,
but because of proper direction and editing, it looks pretty good for
I have yet to mention the story. To be honest, there isn't much of one. It's the typical team-of-specialists-explore-where-they-shouldn't't routine. There are no surprises. However, the characters are given a little more depth than the average Sci-Fi Chanel original movie, which is nice. As a result, the acting is better than average as well. Shannen Doherty does a fine job as the female lead though I wish she was given more to do and better dialog to deliver. Her character is sweeter than the characters she has played in the past so for fans like myself looking for her in a different kind of role, this may be worth checking out. The acting from the rest of the cast was decent as well. Personally, I think the two women (Doherty and Heather Doerksen as her assistant) were much stronger than the men here, in terms of performances and character.
Despite the disappointing story and low budget feel, I would ultimately recommend The Lost Treasure of the Grand Canyon to fans of monster movies and/or Shannen Doherty only. Everyone else is advised to stay away. 6/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Michael Shanks and JR Bourne do make this one of Sci-Fi Channel's
better offerings. Unfortunately, that bar isn't very high.
Once again, the writers for the Sci-Fi Channel ORIGINAL Movies got so very ORIGINAL that they made a complete mish-mosh of the Aztecs, their culture and their mythology.
Half the "artifacts" looked more Mayan then Aztec; especially that stone "Key".
If they can't hire native extras of the right racial group, at least they could have sprung for some body paint for the ones they did hire. I'd not seen such pale natives in decades! Especially desert-dwellers. And flip-flops? Are they serious?
I'd always thought that one of the purposes of CGI was to give movie-makers a range of monsters above the man-in-the-rubber-suit level. Their version of Quetzalcoatl was a joke! It was supposed to be a feathered serpent, not a lizard-man with bat-wings!
Human sacrifice? That, too, was MAYAN, not AZTEC!
And the dagger that Thain's (Shanks' character) father attributed to Pizarro? Pizarro conquered the Incas in what is now Peru. Cortés conquered the Aztecs in what is now Mexico.
Note to wardrobe dept: When doing period pieces, please try to keep in mind the period in question. That flimsy top Ms Doherty was wearing would have been thoroughly unacceptable for a lady of her character's station in that era.
Do I need to mention the visible tire-tracks?
Again, I have to admire the film-makers' ability to get paid for this.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The story line is pretty basic. Nineteenth century archeologists
seeking lost treasure find bad things instead. There are few
stupidities perpetrated by the script/cast save perhaps those of Dunbar
and friend (comic relief?), and Dr. Langford (well played by JR Borne)
who is somewhere between evil and uncaring, and the self-serving bitch
Hildy, nicely performed by Ms. Doerksen. Hildy's fate is cleverly left
indeterminate. One hopes she wound up as the willing sex slave of an
Aztec warrior, rather than as a meal.
There are ample heroics by the good guys, Jacob Thain (Michael Shanks) and Dr. Jordan (the venerable Duncan Fraser). There is also a surfeit of evil (well, badness maybe) from the natives and from the monster (Quetzalcoatl who never looked like this), poor CGI though it is.
The still toothsome Shannen Doherty, though not the stone fox of her "Charmed" youth, does well with what little she is given by the script writers. Her role coulda/shoulda been much stronger.
Speaking of writers, 20th century idioms, such as "hang in there" and "take him out", seem quite out of place in 19th century dialogue. And the human sacrifice scenes are thoroughly disheartening.
In case you ever wonder if Canadian content laws for television are a good thing or not, a look at "The Lost Treasure of the Grand Canyon" should give you a really big clue. Although officially made for the American Sci- Fi Network, Canadian movies like this are also used to be played endlessly on Canadian networks simply because there's nothing better available. To call this movie cheap would be a complement. Although filmed in semi- desert areas of British Columbia, it still looks NOTHING like the Grand Canyon in the United States. The rest of the look of the movie is even more tacky, with minimal (and cheap-looking) props, sets, and CGI effects. But the worst thing about the movie is its tone. It's utterly joyless, lacking awe when we should be amazed, instead giving off a depressing feel for the majority of the running time. Nobody connected with this movie seems to be trying, so you shouldn't be trying to track down the movie on TV or in your local video store.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
While I long ago gave up hope that the Sci Fi Channel would use its
considerable assets in the pursuit of artistry, I've got to give credit
where credit is due. THE LOST TREASURE OF THE GRAND CANYON is a
passable Saturday afternoon feature. It manages to overcome the typical
pitfalls of a Sci Fi Channel movie -- badly rendered CGI monster,
limited sets, silly plot developments -- to showcase some low-budget
ingenuity. And it does it with Shannen Doherty in tow...yes, that
Shannen Doherty, the infant terrible of eighties teen television.
Lest you think Doherty is the decisive factor, I want to clarify that it's director Farhad Mann's skill that elevates the picture. He has the good sense to keep the evil CGI god hidden for the majority of the movie. And even after it makes its obligatory appearance, he has the good sense to recognize that less is more. Unlike his contemporaries, who seem hell-bent on sticking their CGI creatures into as many frames as possible, Mann makes the monster secondary to the locations. Which brings me to the second major asset of THE LOST TREASURE: the photography. Mann also has the good sense to allow the beauty of the Grand Canyon to become a character in the story.
Even Clay Carmouche's screenplay is decent. It's got its share of "Oh, no" moments, but it's got an equal dedication to recreating the atmosphere of an Edgar Rice Burroughs novel. It even sets it in a Burroughs style milieu.
I'm not sure the picture deserves an 8, but in comparison to most of the Sci Fi Channel's oeuvre, it's a towering masterpiece. The only major issue I have is with the title. What did the Lost Treasure have to do with anything? It was mentioned, but almost in passing. Couldn't someone have come up with a better name for the picture?
Guess I shouldn't think too hard. Nobody ever promised that the Sci Fi Channel was going to actually feature thought provoking science fiction.
The Lost Treasure of the Grand Canyon: 1 out of 10: Well I was two minutes into the film and my girlfriend jinxed us. “Hey you know this movie isn’t that bad”. I turned pale… real pale. You don’t tempt the Gods like that. Not with a made for Sci-fi Channel movie. Not when one where the lead is Shannen Doherty. The words barely left her mouth and a CGI puppet began sliming a Frat Boy in a diaper. The Horror…. The Horror. If I am going to start somewhere I have to start with the Frat Boys in diapers. The movie claims these are Aztecs still hidden in the Grand Canyon at the end of the 19th century. (I know I know) Apparently they have been hiding from the white man for many years. Not to mention the Havasupai and the Painte and the Pai and the tourists at the Upper Canyon Ranch and perhaps the boys in blue down at Ft. Mohave. Anyway this lost tribe of Aztecs, like some Japanese WW2 sniper still hiding in a palm tree in 1971, is hidden in the Grand Canyon. What seems stranger is that they consist almost entirely of a hereto thou undiscovered group of Aztecs whom look like white college football players wearing diapers (well more of a mawashi) and war paint. I am all in favor of multicultural casting but I can’t believe that it isn’t a little insensitive to portray Native Americans as well extras in a Fire Island movie. Hold on a second Fire Island Movie????… The men are all buff and practically naked. The two woman are wearing pants and done up in to look twice their age. The monster spews slime on the buff boys for no good reason. Oh God no it’s Jeepers Creepers 2 all over again. The homoerotic horror film strikes again. Now I’m not sure that the over the top homoeroticism is directors Farhad Mann’s doing (or even intentional), but Mann is responsible for both Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace as well as Return to Two Moon Junction so with a track record like I am prepared to blame him for a Swine Flu outbreak let alone this film. So what else went wrong? Well the Quetzalcoatl design is all wrong (he looks like a puppet) and his CGI is bad by even the very low Sci-fi Channel standards. The sets look like Kirk and Spock are going to beam down at any moment. Half the explorers are grossly overweight; an unlikely condition in the far west wilderness that far from a Wal-Mart. As noted above Shannen Doherty who isn’t even forty looks forty-five and Heather Doerksen who isn’t even thirty looks fifty. And they have a five minute flashback at the end that repeats the entire film. But let’s face it buff white frat boys in diapers getting slimed from off camera and pretending to be Indians. Yeah that is just all sorts of wrong.
It's one of those cheap movies that they make by getting two well known
people (not necessarily stars anymore), two take a week out of their
"busy" schedule to make a quick film.
The story in the film is pretty decent about an expedition to find another exception gone missing in an attempt to find a treasure of a long lost civilization that worships a CGI monster like a God.
I also like Micheal Shanks performance as a snobbish archaeologist on the expedition for a personal agenda. It also has a great set of interesting characters played out by some good actors, including the other name in the movie Shannen Doherty.
It's one of those things that when it repeats on Syfy, you'll catch it and you'll like it, but it's not worth going out of your way to see.
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