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Film Review: Land of the Lost

Posted by: – Jun 05, 2009

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I think a lot of people are waiting to see Land of the Lost until they are able to have a better idea of its quality and intended audience. I assume this, mainly, because the audience of the midnight opening screening that I saw was made up of myself and five other people. To everyone who decided to wait on this film, I have good news: You saved yourself 90 minutes.

The problem with this film is not the overall premise. It certainly has the makings of an enjoyable adventure comedy. Will Ferrell plays Dr. Rick Marshall who tests his theories of time travel and winds up getting himself, along with his assistant, Holly, and a tour guide named Will, stranded in another dimension with dinosaurs, chimpanzee-like men, and lizard people (called Sleestak). The three are hunted by a hungry tyrannosaurus, befriend an one of the chimpanzee men named Cha-ka, and are sent by an advanced (and friendly) Sleestak, Enik, to recover Marshall’s time travel device in order to stop another Sleestak from using it to conquer the world.

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It all sounds like decent fun, but the filmmakers are unable to deliver on the potential because they cannot pin down their target audience. Is it aimed at fans of the original television show? Not really. The inclusion of Will Ferrell pretty much guaranteed that it would be a spoof rather than a reimagining of a franchise. Is it aimed at Will Ferrell fans? Perhaps, but they may find themselves disappointed. For the most part, Ferrell seems strangely subdued in his performance. I have never been too big a fan of Will Ferrell, but I would certainly not deny that, at the very least, he is typically very energetic. That is not so in this film.

Many may wonder, if it is not aimed at older fans of the show or Will Ferrell, is it at least enjoyable for families and younger audiences? With the colorful scenery, cartoony villains, and quick pacing, that certainly seems as though it was the intent. Unfortunately, in that regard, Will Ferrell and co-star Danny McBride are unable to keep themselves from swearing and delivering sexual humor that is a bit too raunchy for kids. The PG-13 rating has nothing to do with the action.

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If anyone, Land of the Lost is aimed at people who are tired of Will Ferrell because it will provide them with an example to cite as a reason why. Though I admitted above that I have never been too big a fan, I do not dislike him. I have liked him in some films and I think he is able to be very funny. He has excellent comedic timing and he has the incredible ability to deliver lines of the utmost absurdity with a completely straight face. I think what he needs to do is move on from his constantly repeated role as a lovable idiot. I would like to see him in a film based more on intelligent dialogue rather than slapstick humor. Adam Sandler did it with great success in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love. It’s Will Ferrell’s turn to prove himself.

On a final note, I feel it necessary to comment on the look of the tyrannosaurus in Land of the Lost. The creature is computer generated, and the people behind it clearly paid very close attention to detail. We see shedding scales, crooked teeth, and moving muscle, and it is all very impressive. However, the dinosaur is brightly colored, presumably to make it more kid-friendly, and the computer animated movement has a strange rubbery quality at times. It is disappointing that after 16 years of technological advances, filmmakers are still unable to surpass (or even meet, most of the time) the realism achieved with the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park.

By Gareth Mussen

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