Speculative Fiction Saturday, The Land of the Lost

land_of_the_lostOkay, I think I said that I would be just reviewing films from 2014, and yes, The Land of the Lost came out in 2009, but I just saw it, and it is on my mind, okay? Generally, if I don’t hear about a movie after it is released, I have a tendency to assume the worst. Sometimes, you can get some pleasant surprises, like that Edge of Tomorrow movie wasn’t so bad. In the case of The Land of the Lost, the worst needs to be assumed because this film is made of stupid.

For those who don’t know, the film is based on a television show from Sid and Marty Kroft. If you haven’t heard of them, you really didn’t watch live-action kids shows of the seventies like Wonderbug, H.R. Puff n Stuff, Electrowoman and Dyna Girl, The Lost Saucer, Far Out Space Nuts, and much more. I would have to say that the campy quality of these shows made me the geek that I am today.

The Land of the Lost was an attempt at making a show with live-action dinosaurs, but the effects looked fake even back then. I remember watching this show as a kid, and I was terrified of it then, because there is a shot of a T-Rex who tries to eat the camera on the title sequence. Dang.

In this case, this is a way to make Will Ferrell even more of a star, so this is a full-out comedy. It begins with Will Ferrell playing Marshall, a scientist who is convinced that time travel is possible. Oh wait, it actually begins with an astronaut who finds himself trapped in a prehistoric land before being eaten by a T-Rex. How did the astronaut get there? This is never addressed.

Trust me, there are several things that aren’t addressed. Will Ferrell cannot get any support for his time travel theories, and ends up being humiliated with an interview with Matt Lauer. Why Matt Lauer? Isn’t he popular or something? Who cares.

Marshall can only find work at a grade school science lab, but he is visited by Holly, who is played by Anna Friel, who you should really watch on Pushing Daisies, just one of many great shows you could be watching instead of The Land of the Lost. Anyway, Holly shows Marshall an imprint of a Zippo lighter on a fossil, and it just happens to be Marshall’s lighter. I’m assuming that you’ve seen enough time travel movies to know that the whole film will lead up to how it got that way.

Marshall builds a time travel off-screen, and I honestly think there is a scene skipped, because it just cuts to Marshall and Holly working together without any establishment. Again, no explanation. The two of them go into this cave in the desert, which is a tourist trap run by Will, played by Danny McBride. The three of them try out Marshall’s time machine and end up in…do I need to say it?

When Marshall, Will, and Holly go on their routine expedition, they meet the greatest earthquake ever known. Yep, that is from The Land of the Lost TV theme song, and it is shoe-horned in the dialogue so awkwardly that it hurts.

The movie differs from the TV show as Will and Holly were children, and there was no time machine involved. In fact, if you listen to the TV’s theme song, it is implied that The Land of The Lost might be somewhere on Earth. In this film, The Land of the Lost is some sideways timeline, and it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. For example, there is wreckage of the Golden Gate Bridge and other modern-day and futuristic technology. Where is this coming from? Are there portals to modern day Earth sucking stuff in at random? That sounds kind of cool, but this is…never…addressed. That would have made a good main conflict, you know, stop this from happening…anyone?

So the three of them meet Chaka, this hairy guy who is straight out of the TV show. From there it is about being chased by T-Rex’s, because every dinosaur movie has this scene. In fact, they crawl into a cave to escape, and the T-Rex’s head can’t get in, just like in every other movie. However, the main characters don’t back up as far as they can in this cave! Why?

The film then brings in the Sleestaks, also stolen from the TV show. How do we know that they are called the Sleestaks? Because there is some grafitti that says “Beware of Sleestaks”, written by…who the heck cares. Anyway, one of the Sleestaks named Enik (also taken from the show) calls to Marshall telepathically, and tells him how to get his time machine back.

From there, it is all about adventure mixed in with stupid bathroom humor. Seriously, there is like a five minute scene where Wiil Ferrell coats himself in dinosaur urine, and it is either extremely funny or extremely gross, take your pick, but I’m veering towards the latter.

As it turns out, Enik is actually a bad guy, which I never saw coming because my memories of the TV show has Enik standing out as a good guy. I think they deterred from the source material.

Yeah, I think this project was doomed from the start, and someone probably thought Will Ferrell’s star power could save it. It didn’t, and I’m guessing that if this film had worked, other Kroft projects would have been green-lit. Too bad Kroft will be remembered for this, as his works, campy as they are, deserve to be remembered.

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