Thunder, thunder, thunder rex!
Actually, not quite, but i wonder why not also give the “rexes” magical elemental powers (since the Aztecs call them “Thunder lizards” in the movie itself), if we can stretch the imagination to have a movie like this, set in the 16th centhury about a group of conquistadores going to Mexico in order to search for treasure and colonialize the “savages” while they’re at it, but end up captured by the tribes, whom plan to sacrifice them to their sacred gods, T-Rexes.
I mean, i do trust in Godzilla, but ….
Definitely one of the more original concepts seen in dinosaur flicks, and the time period is quite novel, you often get either stuff set in the “Age Of Exploration”, in modern times, something that involves a group of people finding an uncharted land, going back in time to “prehistory days”, or a combination of these. Not so much in the days of Aztec civilation and spaniard soldier pillage and converting their way through “uncharted” people who did well for themselves before that.
As you would expect, it tackles the typical themes these stories do, with the conquistadores being made both of men reason and rapists with lances, and the tribes trying to balance sacrificial tradition in order to appease the sacred beast, and being open to practicality since having to feed a T-Rex (itself not too big in mesoamerican religion) in perpetuity isn’t that great when you think about it.
Nothing that complicated, but the script tries to approach the plot and its themes without going totally into Pocahontas/Avatar territory, it tries to have some nuance. It tries, it still goes there because without the spaniards having internal conflicts due to “loyalties to the pillaging and killing in the name of the King” and the usual, villanous stubborn son of the cheftain who wanted to sacrifice them all and offer their hearts to the dinosaurs for his own ambition more than appeasing tradition…….the movie would be quite shorter. That’s the main reason, as it often is.
And let’s be honest, at heart this is still a dumb movie since there’s a fuckin CG T-Rex eating people, that begins and end with a narration that frames the plot almost like an Asterix & Obelix cartoon, and most of the characters turning out to be assholes in the end helps to keep the dinos well fed, even without going to the sacrificial altars carring a t-rex effigy, made especially for them to crunch on freshly ripped phony human hearts.
Speaking of which, the effects are kinda of a mixed bag, the practical gore effects (outside of the human hearts) are usually not that shabby and kinda decent for a production like this, and i’m really not fazed by the bad CG T-Rex, it’s so run-of-the-mill crap to not warrant further comment, it’s about what you’d expect, but i’d be easier to accept if they edited around it in a constant fashion, in some occasions you just see the T-Rex bloodlessy chomping people, unharmed because of course a digital effect can’t pierce your flesh in real time, maybe just cut before the monsters bites.
Which is even more galling to witness, since the movie often…actually does just that.
Speaking of standing out, this movie stars Ian Ziering, 6 years before he become famous as “the guy from Sharknado”, as the leader of the conquistadores… but with a horrible wig. Just… no, Ian. The rest of the costumes are alright and acceptable for the production values here, but that wig is so obvious, it inadvertly adds to the fun factor, since this is Ian Ziering, he can’t out-act his way out of the goofy wig, Heck, Marco Sanchez who playes his direct subordinate, vice-captain Rios, is definitely the better actor. But i guess he is – by no fault of his own – no Ian Ziering. Nor his wig.
Overall, a fun little curiosity that brings something a little different to the dinosaur offerings, bad but entertaining enough all the way, even if not quite “so bad it’s good”.