Dino December #18: The Land That Time Forgot (2005)

Of course we’re not reviewing the original novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, or the more known 1975’s adaptation by Amicus. We’re doing the 2009 one, done by The Asylum, which in a way it’s kinda fitting, and… kinda isn’t; sure, it’s about dinosaurs, but usually the company sticks to ripping off Jurassic Park and whatever it spawned over time (including the Carnosaur series), not so much in adapting Burroughs. Almost as surprising as the lack of many adaptations this story received, very little in comparison to Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World.

The story follows the same premise of the book (which didn’t start off but in the later parts develops into a “lost world” story, as popularized by the aforementioned Conan Doyle’s opus), but it set in modern times, it involves frigging portal/dimensional rifts the group of main characters, which aren’t soldiers but just some random persons that were doing some “extreme vacation-activity” thing. Given this is an Asylum production, i’m not really surprised, i mean, they’re not gonna try to film it as a period piece, you just know they ain’t going to… and they don’t.

The main characters are typical Asylum fodder, not because they are detestable or annoying, but due to them being that group of people who either doesn’t like each other, or didn’t even want to do whatever they did all together, reunited anyway because we need characters, motivations we can figure them out later, if we still care. It’s not even to create easy, cheap conflict to move the narrative, it just feels like the embodiment of “whatever”, sure, yeah, they’ll do.

Dinosaurs are CG, and are also about what you’d expected from this production company…. or so i was gonna say, but damn, the T-Rex first apparition on screen is so bad. Like come on, spend 20 more bucks on it, since you’re bothering to even put the name of Edgar Rice Burroughs on the title screen AND as part of the logo. I don’t even know why i’m complaining, i’ve seen the Asylum do way worse, this is on the “decent” scale for them (even if the CG quality varies slights from scene to scene), truth to be told, there’s even a bit of practical effects (like a prop for a dino carcass or tentacles of a sea beast), they don’t usually even bother with that.

Maybe because it still takes you out of the experience, and this isn’t Sharkenado, the script and direction try to play it seriously and actually deliver instead of fudging around for time until the next monster attacking and killing people in a stupid way, they want to make the characters (even the leads that feel random) likeable and make you invest in their struggles… and it works, even with their usually crap budget (leading to shitty ass digital explosions and T-Rex that manage to hide under the prospective so they can just plain rise into frame) they put more effort in, and it pays off.

While it doesn’t follow the original premise of soldiers in a U-Boat having to escape, italso draws some elements from a comic book series called “The War That Time Forgot”, which in itself took clear inspiration in title and premise from Burroughs’ book, but set in World War II instead of World War I. At least according to Wikipedia, it doesn’t really matter since still have WW I german soldiers also stranded on the islands, and given the context the portal at the beginning was a time rift of some kind, making it more of a Bermuda Triangle situation.

This at least gives us a couple of quite likeable (but short-lived) secondary characters, like the jolly american aviator and the old sailor gentleman from the 1950s, and it’s done to accomodate the different context in which the story starts so the main events of the novel may happen, in the end making it surprisingly loyal to the source material, down to the main character leaving his written memories in a thermos and throwing it at sea, so that maybe someone eventually will read them.

It’s surprisingly a decent adaptation, given the circumstances, the production values and everything that comes with this being an Asylum affair, acting is also quite alright, the cast isn’t the usual gaggle of reliable but completely unknown genre actors you see in other Asylum produced film, you might actually recognize someone here.

Don’t expect too much, but still, not that bad of a movie!

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