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King of the Lost World (2005)

Starring Bruce Boxleitner, Jeff Denton, Rhett Giles, Sarah Lieving, Christina Rosenberg, Steve Railsback

Directed by Leigh Scott


I got a better title: King of the Last 10 Minutes.

Despite the misleading moniker King of the Lost World and the giant ape featured on the box art, this is not a King Kong knock-off. The Asylum no doubt set out to ride the coattails of Peter Jackson’s King Kong remake by marketing this film as a giant ape movie and releasing it to DVD shelves a mere 24 hours before the megabudget remake arrives on movie screens. However, King of the Lost World is really a modernized variation on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World with a giant ape tossed in for no logical reason other than to try and capitalize on the current Kong craze. Said ape only appears for about 15 seconds in the film’s opening minutes and isn’t seen again until the film’s last 10 minutes.

A commercial airliner crashes somewhere in this area of the Amazon that’s apparently something of a Bermuda Triangle. The survivors climb out of the wreckage, dust themselves off, introduce themselves to one another, and decide that they need to find the other half of the plane that contains the radio so they can call for help. They’ll soon come to discover that they’re hardly the first to plane to go down in this strange land. At least, those that survive the ensuing trek will come to discover this fact since along the way they’ll encounter a giant spider, a man-eating vine, giant scorpions, and an indigenous tribe that caters to a ten story ape. It seems the Asylum people felt that just wasn’t enough so guess what other monster turns up? If you said dinosaurs then you are incorrect. Nope, they tossed in dragons and they feel completely out of place here.

Look; I can accept the giant bugs, the man-eating foliage, and even the colossal primate, but dragons? Freakin’ dragons in the middle of the Amazon? Pterodactyls… Now I could seem them tossing in some pterodactyls. But dragons? Suspension of disbelief can only stretch so far and the inclusion of dragons is just too much.

Despite taking cues from The Lost World, it’s hard not to get a “Lost” vibe, which is mainly due to Asylum regular Rhett Giles’ character that plays an awful lot like Matthew Fox’s “Lost” character. Bruce Boxleitner shows up as a character named Challenger, the name of one of the main characters from Doyle’s tale, is remade into a shady G-man that personality-wise brings to mind Lost’s Locke at times. Whereas the recent syndicated TV version of “The Lost World” featured a hot blonde in skimpy clothes as a regular of the strange land that helps explain things to the newcomers, King of the Lost World gives us a ragged looking Steve Railsback as a long time prisoner of this lost world who mostly just rambles on like a lunatic for most of his scenes. The rest of the cast mainly consists of attractive females and scruffy guys; most of whom get devoured by something along the way or at least scream a lot.

I must say that the acting is surprisingly solid in comparison to much of what passes for acting in b-movies of this ilk; in particular, most of the Asylum’s recent productions. The acting certainly surpasses the film’s special effects, which range from decent to “you’ve got to be kidding me.” This is clearly one of The Asylum’s more expensive looking productions but it still seems far too ambitious for its low budget as evidenced by the wildly inconsistent quality of the computer f/x.

After making a watchable if unspectacular film out of seeing the characters in peril as they skulk about the jungles of this strange land trying to figure out where they are and how they’re going to get out of there, the film limps across the finish line with a hopelessly convoluted third act that involves a native tribe consisting mostly of white people in aboriginal paint, some of whom speak English; the explanation for which is sketchy as best. Then again, it’s hard to nitpick such things when the third act involves Railsback raving semi-coherently, brainwashing potions, human sacrifice, a giant ape battling a flock of dragons, a squadron of fighter jets that come from seemingly out of nowhere, Bruce Boxleitner stick fighting the tribal queen, and an awfully convenient low grade nuclear explosive.

I’ll go on the record right now and predict that this one will be premiering on the Sci-Fi Channel within the next six months. It definitely has “Sci-Fi Channel” written all over it.

And while this is actually one of the better of the Asylum’s recent efforts (at least until the muddled third act) but I can’t help but feel a bit misled since they’re clearly selling this movie around the giant ape that’s actually just a minor part of the film. That ultimately makes King of the Lost World just another pretender to the throne.

2 ½ out of 5

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Jon Condit