Monday, June 15, 2009

REVIEW: Land of the Lost

Land of the Lost

Year: 2009
Director: Brad Silberling
Starring: Will Ferrell, Anna Friel, Danny McBride, Jorma Taccone, John Boylan
Distributor: Universal Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

Various movie studios have been trying to get a film based on the popular Land of the Lost TV series from creator Sid and Marty Krofft since 1995. In 2002, Sony was working on a big screen version of the hit TV series, but the project eventually fell apart due to its long development. Universal Pictures obtained the adaption rights in April 2005 with director Adam McKay (Anchorman, Step Brothers) attached to direct and actor Will Ferrell set to star. Director Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, Sin City) met with Universal in May of 2007 to potentially direct the Land of the Lost film, but was too busy trying to get a live action film adaptation of The Jetsons made. After struggling with many different directors all of which had different ideas for the film, Universal finally announced that Brad Silberling (Casper, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events) will be helming the film with Ferrell still on board. The films original budget of $125 million was also reduced to $100 million.

Plot Outline:
On his latest expedition, Dr. Rick Marshall (Will Ferrell) is sucked into a space-time vortex alongside his research assistant (Anna Friel) and a redneck survivalist (Danny McBride). In this alternate universe, the trio make friends with a primate named Chaka (Jorma Taccone), their only ally in a world full of dinosaurs and other fantastic creatures.


Ill go on a limb here and say "I have never seen the TV series this film was based on". I first heard about this film during the Super Bowl last year when they aired the first official TV spot. I enjoyed director Brad Silberling's last film, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events so I was pretty much set to watch this film. Land of the Lost has an interesting plot simply because it hardly feels like a plot at times. The films story is mostly a mixed bag with a bunch of stuff thrown together to form what they would call a "plot". Its never really focused on one goal and theirs hardly any cohesion to it. It can be predictable at times and also alittle over the top. Whats even more frustrating is that the film just simply has trouble trying to reach a core audience. The films rated PG-13 which is fine enough since their are some raunchy jokes mixed with action scenes. Than their are times where the film feels like a family flick kind of like a Disney film. It never feels like the film is right for one particular target audience which kind of makes the film seem really unbalanced. That said, I did enjoy the movie to some extent because it felt like a fun ride. It can be downright silly at times, but I found myself not really caring about whats going on and rather enjoying whats on the screen. The films special effects are pretty good and I liked the amazing set pieces. Even though you cant really take this film seriously with most of the funny parts shown in the various trailers, It can still be entertaining to some extent.

Will Ferrell plays as the main character of the film, Dr. Rick Marshall. I'm not a big Will Ferrell hater, but I don't think most of his films are as bad as people say. I do agree with most people that his antics are getting old and tiring especially when most of the characters he plays tend to be the same person. That said, I enjoyed him in this role. He wasn't as loud mouthed and stupid as he was in some of his previous films. He does tend to get alittle annoying in some scenes, but hes mostly just fine in this role. Definitely not his best performance, but it certainly ain't his worst either. Anna Friel plays the love interest in the film, Holly Marshall. She does an average job in her role which is perfectly suitable for the job, but just nothing special. I did think she was a good choice opposite Ferrell, but It would have been more interesting if it were a more well known actress. Funnyman Danny McBride plays as Will Stanton and he gives an enjoyable performance. Nothing special, but just average for the role. I did end up liking him more than the other cast members, but maybe this was just due to the fact that hes probably the only one that I felt the audience can concnhestt with. Jorma Taccone plays as Cha-Ka and his performance is mostly going to be one sided. His character doesn't talk English and it really isn't that hard to play a caveman like character.

Land of the Lost is definitely not lost in terms of picture quality. The film has some pretty neat spacial effects that look very promising. Their is alot of scenes that feature a heavy use of CGI and they look pretty amazing. I wouldn't say the special effects are the best I have seen for a movie like this, but its still a great looking film. I don't know why, but the first Jurassic Park still has the best special effects for a T-Rex and that was over 20 years ago. Land of the Lost's film source is an excellent condition which really shouldn't come off as a surprise considering its a new release. I didnt notice any film grain even in the darkest scenes. The films color palette is also something to be excited about. Its vibrant and very much colorful. A majority of the film takes place outside during the day so colors tend to pop. Contrast is mostly on the hot side, but it ain't that big of a problem. Black levels are also strong, but they impress like the colors do. Flesh tones are very natural and slick looking. I didnt notice any micro-blocking or scratches. The image was as smooth as butter. Detail is generally on the strong side, but I did notice a few scenes that felt alittle soft compared to most of the film. Still, Land of the Lost looks great and showcases such fine detail. The film never looks amazing, but it comes damn near close.


Land of the Lost contains a good soundtrack that's somewhat evenly balanced. The films original music is composed by Michael Giacchino who also scored the music for End of Days and the new Star Trek film. His score sounds very fitting for the nature of the movie. Since I haven't seen the TV series the film was based on, I cant tell if it sounds similar to that of the show. Still, the score sounds fine and really brings that prehistoric feel to the movie. My only grip about it, is the fact that it ain't used as much as It should have been. As for various other musical instruments, the film is quite limited. Theirs really no debate on whether Land of the Lost delivers or not in terms of bass. The film rumbles like no tomorrow and definitely has some reference moments. I wouldn't rank it among the best of the best we have ever heard, but it does sound damn good. It feels mostly front heavy since the theater didn't really spread out in terms of delivering it dynamically.

Land of the Lost definitely isn't the best family film nor is it the best Will Ferrell flick, but it does contain a share of entertainment that might be worth watching on a boring Sunday afternoon. The films biggest weakness is the fact that it cant find the proper audience its targeting, but also simply the fact that the story is never really coherent. Still, it has enough joy and entertainment values that it hardly qualifies as the worst movie of the summer. The cast is alright and Will Ferrel actually wasnt that annoying in the film. The visual look of the film is mostly bright with bright sun-like colors. Theirs also a good amount of detail that makes the image nice and clear. The soundtrack is very fitting and the film definitely rumbles when it comes down to its bass. The film definitely ain't worth spending $10 to see it in theaters, but it should make a good rental.

Grade: C-


micky said...

i hate will ferrel but i like dinosaurs.

Andrew The Dark said...

Saw this with my younger daughter the other day and we both enjoyed it. Some parts were funny while others dragged on. Were going to see Up next week, any chance of you doing a review for that?

Farzan said...

I don't hate Ferrel, but I am starting to lose faith in his acting.

@Andrew The Dark:
I probably wont be doing a review for Up probably until the Blu Ray version hits. This is mainly because I like to watch my Pixar movies at home in the best quality ever. Not only that, but we have a crap load of awesome movies coming up in the next few weeks. Its going to be hard to squeeze in a Up review. I do suggest yo go see it though since everyone has been raving about it. I'm sure your daughter will enjoy it.