Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Michael Gross, Christopher Atkins, Greg Evigan, Dean Kreyling, Wendy Carter, Marie Westbrook
Directed by Griff Furst
Got an email the other day from a reader sending me a link to some Japanese YouTube sort of website that had the yet-to-be-released Asylum flick 100 Million BC already up for viewing. 100 Million BC was originally slated to hit DVD shelves in time to coincide with the release of Roland Emmerich’s 10,000 BC, but then they struck a deal with the Sci-Fi Channel to premiere it this June with the actual DVD release pushed back to the last week of July. I clicked the link and sure enough, either the film has already been released in Japan and someone posted a DVD rip of it online or, just as the Japanese are vastly superior to us when it comes to creating state-of-the-art technology, they are also light years ahead of us in terms of bootlegging.
Either or, after taking what seemed like 100 million years to load, I went ahead and took a look at it. I’m sure the Asylum won’t be happy to know their movie is already out there months in advance of its proper release but I don’t think they’ll mind my reviewing it too much in this case since I’m about to write one of those ever so rare positive Asylum movie reviews.
Hard as it might be to believe, 100 Million BC is actually a fairly entertaining if inconsequential B-movie saddled with some spectacularly z-grade effects work. I was never once bored while watching 100 Million BC and that is something of a minor miracle given The Asylum’s track record. That alone also makes 100 Million BC more fun than Roland Emmerich’s $100 million 10,000 BC.
Despite its title, 100 Million BC has next to nothing in common with Emmerich’s overblown suckfest. Instead it’s more of a sci-fi adventure that for a good part of its running time harkens back to many a monster movie of the 1950’s, the sort where a team of explorers searching an uncharted frontier find themselves facing menaces of the unearthly or prehistoric variety. I found it hard not to be reminded of such similar Fifties features like The Land Unknown and King Dinosaur.
Looking quite a bit like longtime character actor Colin Fox, Michael Gross of Tremors and “Family Ties” fame stars as Dr. Frank Reno, a brilliant scientist who has spent the last 60 some odd years guilt ridden over his part in the failed wormhole experiment – expect numerous references to the fabled Philadelphia Experiment – that saw a team of soldiers get zapped back to the Cretaceous Period with no chance of rescue. Not even the discovery of prehistoric cave paintings with the message “FRANK, IT WASN’T YOUR FAULT” provides little comfort for his guilty conscience, especially considering two of those lost to time were his older brother, Erik, and a pretty nurse he’d had a thing for.
If you’re thinking to yourself that Michael Gross doesn’t seem old enough for someone said to have been working for the military back in the 1940’s, well, you’d be right. But the filmmakers do have a cheat to try and explain it – Frank Reno was a child prodigy who graduated from MIT when he was 12 and went right to work for the US government.
Might as well mention that Greg Evigan (“BJ & The Bear”, “My Two Dads”) also appears in the utterly thankless role of a military commander who is there to greet the SEAL team, instruct them to listen to Dr. Reno, wish them bon voyage, welcome the returning ones back, and finally give us the traffic helicopter report of what’s going on during the finale. Not much of a role for someone whose name is being used to help sell the film.
Now, in 2008, Frank is finally getting a chance to try and rescue those lost men and women. Because wormholes are not an exact science, Frank and the accompanying Navy SEAL team will arrive in 100,000,000 BC six years after the others did. Acid-spitting plants, dinocrocs, pterodactyls, and raptors will make their trek perilous.
Speaking of wonky science, much concern is raised on Frank’s part regarding potential paradox problems. I’d say it’s a little late for whining about creating a paradox once you’re discovering prehistoric cave messages written in English. If not, then the thought of future scientists discovering and carbon dating machine guns lost back in Cretaceous period should really make it a moot point.
For that matter, if these soldiers from 2008 had to take special pills to help them adapt to the oxygen quality of 100 million year old air, then why would anyone assume those other soldiers are still alive?
Soon they will find survivors existing much like the way humans were portrayed in Battlefield Earth. Those 1940’s troopers really were troopers; six years fighting to survive in a land before time with no guarantee they would ever be rescued and yet they all seemed remarkably upbeat about the whole ordeal. Brother Erik (Mr. Blue Lagoon himself, Christopher Atkins) in particular takes it all in great stride, chalking it up as a grand adventure and remarking to his reunited brother how much he’s looking forward to seeing another whole new world in 2008 when they get back.
There’ll be no time to celebrate their rescue or marvel at the modernity of 2008 or even a chance for anyone to take a decent shower because a big hungry carcaradontosaurus (i.e. think T-Rex only bigger) also made it thru the wormhole. They nickname it “Big Red” based on the hue of some of its skin pigmentation.
100 Million BC‘s second half has “Big Red” roaming the surprisingly desolate streets of downtown Los Angeles while Atkins and his bunch run around either trying to escape from the dinosaur, distract the dinosaur, or get the dinosaur to chase them so they can lure it into a potential trap. Any which way you cut, the second half mostly consists of a whole lot of running around on the part of the principle actors and the man-eating dino. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t get a tad monotonous, certainly not as fun as the first half was. I’d also be lying if I said it didn’t remind me more than a little of similarly goofy stuff seen in last year’s DTV dino-in-LA flick The Eden Formula.
Whether or not the CGI dino effects of 100 Million BC are superior to that of The Eden Formula‘s “Land of the Lost” T-Rex puppetry is a matter of debate. These special effects are definitely special only in a short bus kind of way; the computerized dinosaur creations were so cartoony looking I couldn’t help but be bemused watching them in action. Another scene even had the actors standing in front of the rear projection of a Los Angeles freeway tunnel, the footage of which must have been rolled backwards because one replay worthy moment saw a lone SUV inexplicably drive past them going in reverse for no discernable reason.
Strange as this might sound to some, I felt the laughable effects, paper thin plot and characterizations, and screwy science actually contributed to the film’s lightweight entertainment value in much the same way many of those 1950’s sci-fi flicks, and with a zippier pace too. If you’re the sort of person who looks back on films like The Angry Red Planet with affection then you’ll probably find something to enjoy about this diverting throwback to 1950’s sci-fi dino flicks from ex-Asylum standout Griff Furst.
Hokum? Yes. But acceptable levels of hokum.
3 out of 5
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