judge a movie by its
SIMON MANGIARACINA - COLUMNIST
Unfortunately for all of us, the latest Steve Guttenberg
racecar-driving opus, Overdrive, is no longer in stock at the local video
store. While Meatballs 4, starring Corey Feldman, did look rather tempting,
I was inexplicably drawn to Forgotten City, an archeological adventure
flick about a lost Mayan metropolis, and the bad actors who try to find
it. The video cassette itself was made out of a bright banana yellow plastic,
and proved to be the film's most redeemable feature. Everything that happened
after I pushed the video into my VCR was a big disappointment.
There weren't any previews! Since crappy movies you've never
heard of usually have previews for more crappy movies you've never heard
of, I tend to find these ads very useful and informative for my column.
Forgotten City stars Robert Patrick, the guy who played the amorphous
T-1000 android in Terminator 2. Once Patrick opens his mouth on screen,
it becomes painfully obvious why he had once been cast to play a robot.
Patrick plays Jim, a happy executive whose world is turned upside-down
when he receives a frantic phone call from his brother in Costa Rica.
He asks Jim to come to Costa Rica immediately and to bring the gold Mayan
tray that he had found years ago.
When Jim arrives in Costa Rica, he discovers that he was
too late, since his brother had been tortured to death. In search of answers,
Jim teams up with a sexy female archaeologist from Italy. They tear through
the Costa Rican streets on her dirt bike while bad guys chase them and
shoot at them with automatic weapons. The sexy archaeologist takes Jim
to her employer, a wealthy and eccentric adventure-seeker, played by Fred
Ward. You may remember Ward from the campy 80's horror flick Tremors.
Unfortunately, when Ward isn't sharing the screen with the
brilliant Kevin Bacon and a gaggle of giant man-eating snake monsters,
his acting performance becomes much more detached. I could sense that,
as he portrayed his character in Forgotten City, he was yearning for a
higher level of engagement with his work, as if he was thinking, "Without
giant man-eating snake monsters, I am nothing." Ward's performance truly
suffered due to this nostalgic bout of melancholia.
Well, we'll always have Tremors 2: Aftershocks. Getting back
to the film at hand, Jim hands over the gold Maya tray. The sexy archeologist
tries to decipher its meaning, and determines it is a map to the Forgotten
City. Jim interrupts her thoughts, "What does it say?" "It just talks
about, here, the old man in the mountain," she explains. A native guide
offers a thought, "There is a range on the Caribbean side, who's highest
peak is called by the locals 'the old man.' Could this be what you're
looking for?" "I don't know. It could be," the sexy archaeologist says
blankly with profound disinterest. And so our crew is off to a flying
start on their perilous and trying expedition... to the Forgotten City.
Along the way, a bunch of militant natives shoot, stab, and
blow-up a number of people on Ward's research team, but through much adversity,
they eventually find the Forgotten City, which is buried below the ground.
Jim and the sexy archaeologist discover the entrance to a tomb, and when
they discover the gold inside, they take off each other's clothes and
make-out in slow motion.
When they return to the rest of the group with the good news
about the gold, they find that their native guide has double-crossed them,
and the militant group that has been giving them so much trouble pops
out of the jungle and holds them at gunpoint. Their leader grabs a nameless
member of the expedition and holds a poisonous tree frog to his face,
explaining that as he rubs the frog into his eyes, he will die of a most
painful death. A lot of shooting and running around ensues, but in the
end Jim and the sexy archaeologist are the only ones who survive unscathed.
They escort a dying Fred Ward into the tomb. Upon seeing
the gold, Ward slumps over and says "I'll be damned, the old bastard wasn't
lying," and then keels over and dies. I have no idea who the "old bastard"
was that he was referring to. In the closing scene, Jim and the sexy archaeologist
are sitting beach side during a sunset, sipping on mango juice. They kiss.
"Mmm, you taste like mangoes," the sexy archaeologist says. "You too."
The End. Forgotten City was nothing more than a huge waste of time, and
would most likely make Meatballs 4, seem like a work of art. I would be
inclined to give this film an F, but since the video cassette was made
of that bright banana yellow plastic, it gets a D. Before I sign off,
I've been asked to plug a couple movies the Film Studies department is
showing early next week. Don't miss Glen or Glenda, the Ed Wood transvestitism
classic, and Marihuana, a mock documentary about the dangers of marijuana
in the spirit of Reefer Madness. Check out the calendar for more details.
See you there...