Land of the Lost
However the trailers for Land of the Lost offered something a little more, and I was intrigued, just never enough to make it to the cinema and actually watch it. That's where the iTouch came in and on a journey to London so did the review copy of Land of the Lost.
What happened was a bit of a surprise, for I actually started sniggering, and sometimes laughing, and the film does turn out to be rather funny and entertaining.
He, of course, thinks that she's a little mad for believing in him, and he's so lacking in self belief after years of failure that he's given up. That is until she shows him the object she's found in some local caves, a fossil that contains a dinosaur footprint with a lighter stuck beneath it. He recognises it when he picks it up, it's his lighter, and it fits perfectly.
With that inspiration he builds the device he's been designing all these years. When she sees the invention that he's been dreaming up, a device to harness the power of the tachyons and amplify them, she decides it's time to give him a kick and to take it out and give it a field trial.
She takes them to the caves where she found the fossil along another item, a crystal filled with tachyon energy. It seems far too good to be true, and that's when the trouble starts.
When the transmitter gets a field test, the strange musical moment aside, they discover it really works and he, the student, and a guide that has taken them into the caves, disappear through a dimensional portal that he's opened with his untested device.
When they awake they are in another world, a world filled with dinosaurs, strange alien creatures, and remnants of their own society that have been pulled through the portal that seems to be extremely active here.
So the team set off to try and find the device that is now apparently lost somewhere in this world. However it's no longer just them that are after the device, a creature from this new world wants the device before one of his kind, a creature with evil intentions for the other worlds and universes, gets a hold of it.
I was genuinely surprised by the film which did actually start out from the beginning as funny and entertaining. At times the set-up jokes are built on threads that begin much earlier and recur a number of times before helping to hit the punchline, and the jokes have plenty of references in them that stand out from the usual one line gags.
I think that's where the biggest surprises were for me in the film, and it didn't simply rely on the same tired humour. Here there was some invention and clever scripting around it, and I really valued that. It not only made the film better but also the humour sharper.
At times the story does resemble one of the traditional lost in another time/world/land stories, but it works that to its own advantage, pulling in aspects of these other films and using them for comic effect. Plus it draws on so many aspects of this genre of film to produce a very rich and varied world, ripe for many parodies and comic moments, some of which are a delight because you just don't see them coming. Have a look at the giant crab moment for an example.
There are some great pay-offs with the comedy, for instance the opening interview and the seemingly innocuous moment of the show tunes left on the hard drive of the device, these are referenced a few times in the story and built upon until a much bigger pay-off in the latter part of the film.
Will Ferrell shares the screen well with Anna Friel and Danny McBride, none of them seem as though they are trying to out act each other or try and take the lead from the others, in fact they have good chemistry together and the comic timing of all of them is very good.
I think it's McBride who provides some of the best moments, as he has the most enjoyable character for the comedy moments, but the delivery of some of Ferrell's lines in a dry and totally self believing manner takes a strong second.
Will Stanton: “You ever get tired of being wrong?”
Dr. Rick Marshall: “I do! I really do!” - Being chased by a T-Rex who has just proved his steadfast theories wrong once again
There are some issues though, in a couple of places the action leaps over something that seemed rather important and just passes by it. One such moment was when they were trapped in the dimension where one of the creatures had been banished. They seemed stuck with no way off of where they were and no way out of the dimension with creatures intent on killing them surrounding the entrance. What happens? Well we have no real idea as the next scene just ends and leaps to them back in the strange Land of the Lost.
This happens later on in the story, and both points are rather noticeable, making you wonder what actually happened during the lost moments. However saying that, the comedy moves on and takes you with it, and this isn't really the kind of film where you're analysing too much, after all it's set in another dimension with alien creatures and dinosaurs.
The picture was strong and with the other dimension filled with bright colours and plenty of sun there was never any problem with not being able to see enough. Even in the night time shots and the opening scene that kept everything mysteriously dark, there was never anything missed. What made it more challenging was that I was watching the film on a train with the iTouch balancing out the light with the brightness of the late afternoon sun, and it coped really well.
Once again the iTouch only offers stereo so there's nothing much to report here. With earphones it sounded very crisp and clear, and the audio levels only once meant I had to turn the volume up to catch something that the characters were whispering to each other.
The Land of the Lost surprised me as being an actual funny film that had some intelligence to it, bringing some cleverly scripted moments that build throughout the film rather than just the quick fire rapid low level comedy that we're so used to from Hollywood.
The four actors work well together and show they all have strong comic timing, even from Jorma Taccone playing the cross-dimensional monkey! Friel and Ferrell are particularly good and work well together, Friel showing that she's quite the overlooked actress.
It's a good fun film that does provide some laughs and should consider itself a cut above the average American comedy. Perhaps it could surprise you too?