King Solomon’s Mines: Directed by J. Lee Thompson. With Richard Chamberlain, Sharon Stone, Herbert Lom, John Rhys-Davies. Fortune hunter Allan Quatermain teams up with a resourceful woman to help her find her missing father lost in the wilds of 1900s Africa while being pursued by hostile tribes and a rival German explorer.
This came out four years after Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark and just a year after Indiana and the Temple of Doom, and it’s clear there was a certain amount of inspiration from both of those film, from the soundtrack sounding like a copyright-free version of the Indy theme to the basic premise of going into a mountain to get gems. There’s a LOT of additional stuff here that just didn’t work, but plenty that did. The casting was pretty on point, many of the stunts were pretty great, with the exception of a few of the train stunts, those were pretty egregious. Among the positives is that they did a ton of on location shots, and they’re some of the most gorgeous scenes from the 80’s, specifically the opening waterfalls.
Among the worst though is that the plot is an adaptation of a “Alan Quatermain” story that was originally written in 1885, then adopted to the silver screen, but through the filter of the adventure films of the time, namely the aforementioned Indiana Jones franchise. This filter lends some cheap humor that attempts to do things that don’t work, and quips that just don’t make much sense, and gives us the Nazis as the bad guys.
If the name “Alan Quatermain” sounds vaguely familiar to you, Sean Connery played the same character in “The League of Extraordinary Gentlement”, a film that didn’t really do the character much justice, but neither did this one either, and I wouldn’t recommend it, unless you were interested in Quartermain as a character.
“Stop sinking, that’s an order.”