Raiders of Atlantis (1983)
Been a while since I posted anything (sorry 'bout that) but I'm back today with a review of a weirdass action/sci-fi movie from the twisted minds of Italians with nothing better to do (though they should really be cleaning up the streets of Naples or making Ferraris more affordable to us average joes). Raiders of Atlantis is directed by Ruggero Deodato, mostly known for the shock-and-awe classics Cannibal Holocaust from 1980 and Jungle Holocaust from 1977 (neither of which I will ever see because I'm squeamish) and stars a multinational cast of two-bit actors muddling through a script so riddled with plot holes that you wonder if anyone did any pre-shoot editing at all. While sadly typical of the trashy 1980s action movie genre, it does have some nice, unique touches and a couple of interesting ideas that made it at least semi-survivable as a late night movie.
Ok, let's do it...
We open in Miami, Florida in the farflung year of 1994. Miami eleven years "in the future" looks just exactly like Miami in 1983; the cars, the boats, the hairdos, the tight pants and linen suits, even the thumping synthesizer-heavy rock tunes have not changed one bit in the visionary time machine of the producers.
Our film's hero is a manly man named Mike Ross, whose exact background and employment history is vague, but he's clearly some sort of soldier of fortune, Vietnam veteran, and caterwalling ladies man. Mike is played by 42-year old Christopher Connelly, mostly a bit part actor, though I've never seen any of his movies and don't remember him from anything else. As far as leading men go, he's somewhere in the early Mel Gibson class.
Mike's partner and closest friend is a tall burly black man named Washington. He's played by Tony King, who I've also never seen in anything, but his resume looks schlocktastically bad. Washington has recently converted to Islam (!) and insists that everyone call him Mohammad now. The running joke throughout this movie (and it frequently gets old) is that Mike keeps calling him Wash not Mohammad, and Wash has to keep correcting him (and yes, I am going to call him "Wash" in this review because it's easier to type). I wonder if in our paranoid post-9/11 world if this would ever make it into a movie without the lawyers going crazy.
Ok, to get an idea of what type of smooth-talking, fast-shooting, quick-thinking men Mike and Wash are, we get an opening scene of them busting into some mafia don's house and kidnapping him. It's a violent raid, with Mike killing one guard by breaking his neck and Wash killing three more, two with a gun and one with throwing knife. The mafia don is drugged and hauled out in a bag and tossed in the back of a Chevy Blazer for the get-away (which is amazingly easy, no one even attempts to follow them).
Raiding the house, chloroforming the don.
For bringing this mobster out alive, Mike gets $50,000 from "the Colonel", a shadowy figure that lurks in the back seat of a Lincoln Town Car and hides his face behind a newspaper. Mike takes the money and then slips in some cryptic line about knowing where the Colonel lives before whistling the theme to The Dirty Dozen and strolling off. All movie long I kept expecting this Colonel dude to show up again, or something to happen with the mob guys, anything to tie this opening scene in with the rest of the movie. But it was not meant to be, nothing more is ever mentioned of this scene, which seems odd as they went to a lot of effort to set up the Colonel character and give him motivations and a back story and everything, all to just completely toss him.
The Colonel hands Mike his cash.
Ok, Mike and Wash take their cash (what's 50 large in 1983 money? Or would that be 1994 money?) and head off to sea on a nice cabin cruiser, steering for the Caribbean islands where they will presumably spend their loot on Trinidadian hookers and Red Stripe beer. As we watch, out at sea their boat is buzzed by a low-flying helicopter, a big AS.330 Puma transport in blue and white civilian colors. This scene lasts much longer than you would think, despite the fact that it's just shot after shot of the boat from the helo and of the helo from the boat. Mike says that the helicopter's pilot "has to be Bill Cook", some dude he and Wash know from past days. More on this Bill guy later.
The Puma (remember this type from Rambo III, made up to look like a Hind?).
Lets leave them for a while to go to an oil drilling rig out in the azure blue ocean. This is "Echo One" rig located at "68 degrees west 24 degrees north", which is an incredibly vague set of coordinates that puts it roughly northeastish of Puerto Rico (the Bermuda Triangle, natch).
The rig (stock footage).
Bill Cook's helicopter arrives now (after buzzing Mike and Wash) and sets down on the rig's landing pad (again, the amount of time and filmstock spent on this machine is impressive, I'd love to know why exactly, did the helo's owner fund the film?). A woman is let off the helo, the prop-wash blowing her hair into tangles. Her name is Cathy Rollins and she's an expert in (of all things) Pre-Columbian Writing, who is coming in from Mazatlan, where she was working on some dig of great import to her (and probably her alone) and isn't happy about being pulled off the site on virtually zero notice. Cathy is played by thirtysomething Gioia Scola, an Italian actress I've never seen before in my life. She's pretty, but not overly so, and tends to wear too much pastel for my tastes.
Right off the landing pad, she meets a causally-dressed scientist named Professor Peter Saunders who takes her down to the rig's computer and control room. The Professor is played by 49-year old George Hilton, an Italian actor with an Anglicized name known mostly for spaghetti westerns and gallo crime dramas (he's a mystery to me). You can tell he's brilliant by his dorky birth-control glasses, ink pens in his pocket, and white tube socks pulled up to his knees.
Once they get past the introductions, and Cathy lets go of her huffy I'm-too-important-for-this attitude, they get down to business. The Professor explains to Cathy that the rig is a ruse, it's currently being used as a base by a group of what I assume are CIA spooks and US Navy civilian contractors to do a secret project. It seems that a Russian submarine floundered near here and they are about to raise it. Shades of the CIA's Glomar Explorer project in 1968, a real-life adventure in which they raised a sunken Russian sub in the Pacific under the guise of a scientific survey mission.
Random shot of the team working on the rig, just to get you some flavor.
Cathy is here because they found "something" down there at the same depth as the submarine (5,712 feet, to be overly exact). A "small stone tablet" was found on the seafloor, was brought aboard the rig, and a spectral analysis concludes that the tablet is 12,000 years old! The Professor wants Cathy to decipher the tablet's unique writing (which I assume they already guessed was Pre-Columbian of some sort, otherwise they wouldn't have called in Cathy) and tell them what the heck it was doing there (a question, mind you, that is never really answered by movie's end).
So a day or so passes (time is difficult to gauge in this film). Cathy is busy translating the tablet, though she doesn't have much to report yet, or at least she's keeping her findings to herself. I still don't know why all the fuss about having her come here, why couldn't they just send it to her, wouldn't she have better luck translating it if she were allowed access to her books and notes and all that?
Cathy looking all bookworm hot.
Meanwhile, the day comes that they are ready to raise the sunken submarine. They've apparently attached lifting balloons and support wires to the hull and are going to go with a controlled accent, much like how the real 1968 CIA project lifted that Golf (though it broke up on assent). We see the Russian boat on some television monitors as it's being raised (though the image is strangely well-lit, like they filmed a model in a tub of water through a hazy filter...).
The sub rising (looks like a kit-bash, though vaguely November-ish if you squint).
Suddenly (and I do mean suddenly), a violent summer squall rears up, bringing torrential rain and hurricane-force winds in the blink of an eye. Electrical power is lost, the lights go out, the rig begins to shimmy and shake and everyone runs around freaking out. The commander orders the rig abandoned and life jackets are passed out in a hurry. The rig is then swamped out in one of the worst miniature model effect shots you will ever see. Seriously, the model doesn't even look anything like the stock footage shots we saw earlier (and I know that working with water and miniatures is notoriously difficult, but this is really a weak effort, the whole thing maybe even stock footage from a different movie).
The storm surges over the rig.
Ok, Mike and Wash are still out in their boat nearby (coincidently) and are caught in the same storm. They fight a sudden and unexplained lack of power, though Wash keeps pushing the throttles back and forth for no apparent reason. Without steering power or helm control, however, they still manage to keep the bow into the wind (how?) and are able to ride out the fifty-foot waves and keep from capsizing despite the topheavy nature of their boat.
Pointless effort there, Wash.
Out in the raging sea they spy a most spectacular sight. A "domed island" rises up out of the pitching waves, accompanied by a shrieking noise and ominous lightning forks though the rolling thunderheads. The transparent dome opens, sliding back into the water to leave the rocky forested island exposed. The high-pitched whine hurts their ears (though not so much Mike's, because he's the hero and all) and causes them to say "damn" and stuff, but in general they don't seem that impressed by this (maybe they've watched too many crappy Italian action movies). This, by the way, is the fabled lost continent of Atlantis rising after centuries beneath the waves.
The island rises, spooky!
The next morning (or maybe later that same day) the storm abates and Mike and Wash are left adrift on the open sea. They pick up five survivors off the rig who in an amazing coincidence, drift up to their position seemingly at random. In this rescued group are Cathy, the Professor, Bill Cook, and two expendable scientists (I assume the rest of them, maybe a few dozen more, were lost in the storm or eaten by sharks) .
The survivors adrift.
Lets meet Bill Cook, who if you remember (and why the hell wouldn't you?) was the pilot of that helicopter that buzzed Mike a few scenes ago. Bill is played by 45-year old Ivan Rassimov, an Italian exploitation genre leading man with a name like a Ukrainian tennis pro and the hair of a Greek god. Bill is also an adventurer and a charmer, deft with a gun and dashing in his photojournalist's cargo vest and aviator shades. He and Mike seem to have a shady past of gunrunning and lawbreaking to bond them together.
Bill, from a later scene.
The scientists fix the boat's engine (because, you know, scientists can fix anything mechanical, regardless of their degree area, Gilligan's Island taught us that) and they have power again. But they don't have navigation yet, as their radio and radar systems are out still. As such they steer by the sun and compass, hoping to make landfall before their food runs out and they have to eat the expendable scientists. It's not long before they get to "San Peidro Island", which I'm guessing is a fictional stand-in for "Random Caribbean Island". Mike says he recognizes the place from the breakwaters, but later it doesn't seem like any of them have ever actually set foot on this island before. All this is filmed in the Philippines, for what that's worth (very little).
Just offshore, their cabin boy Manuel now goes nuts, holding a pistol and attempting to kidnap Cathy! Did I mention that Mike had a cabin boy named Manuel? Really? Manuel keeps raving that "They will come to kill you all!" and seems like he's totally lost his mind. Mike is able to knock the gun away from Manuel (who really is struggling internally not to shoot him) and the boy jumps overboard and swims off before anyone can stop him. Cathy notes that Manuel had a tattoo on his arm that looks just like a similar mark on that tablet she was working on (and still has in her bag). She won't say what she thinks that means, but she does say she's working on a "theory".
Manuel goes postal (damn these low budget movies filming in the dark, don't they know how difficult it is to get decent screen caps when they do that?).
They all go ashore now. Ok, lets stop and reload. There are seven of them on the island: Mike and Wash, Bill, Cathy, the Professor, and two random scientists who might as well be Starfleet Red Shirt Ensigns.
Our heroes come ashore.
They work their way through the empty and trashed streets of the town. Clearly something terrible happened here recently and it wasn't the storm. Buildings are damaged, windows are broken, and cars are burnt out and smashed on the street, and there are clear signs that an attack of some sort has devastated this town. Worst of all, bodies are everywhere, some tortured before being killed, strung up on light poles or tied to car hoods covered in blood. The men grit their teeth and set their jaws, while Cathy does what all women in movies must do, weep and stammer in the face of such horror.
Dead body tied to a road sign.
And now they are confronted with the gang of killers responsible for this mayhem! These are the scum of humanity, the worst of the worst, heartless murderers and cutthroats who show no mercy and take no quarter, though they look fabulous doing so. They go by the strange name of the "Interceptors" (we learn later) and look like your typical post-apocalyptic wasteland biker gang crossed with a 1980s glam rock band crossed with a traveling freak show crossed with an advertising campaign for Cover Girl cosmetics. If all this sounds insane, it looks a thousand times more nuts than I can describe. It's like whoever produced this movie had two competing script ideas. One was our Atlantis rising sci-fi story, and the other was a traditional Mad Max-style post-holocaust story, and neither side would give an inch so the director just combined them.
Collage of gang members (check that PA-tricked out DeSoto Diplomat with the spiked wheels in the first picture, that is friggin' awesome).
I'm going to cheat and tell you that this gang is composed of descendants of survivors of Atlantis, who somehow ended up in the Caribbean after their island home sank thousands of years ago. For whatever reason (and, again, it's never very clear why) Atlantis has chosen this moment to rise again, and for an equally baffling reason, all these descendants have turned into roadies at a Rob Zombie concert. It's like they've been training and waiting for generations for just this event so they can take over the world one island at a time. If you are confused, join the club.
More gang members.
The gang is lead by "Crystal Skull Mask Guy", who seems to favor leather bondage outfits and a semi-transparent skull mask (and yes, he's Humongous from The Road Warrior). An earlier cut-scene suggests that he used to be a wealthy businessman who has been keeping this mask for years, passed down from generation to generation for centuries for just the right time (when Atlantis rises). He's played by Bruce Baron, but that's not really important.
Crystal Skull Mask Guy there in the middle. I'm totally in love with the hot Asian girl with the machinegun/rocket combo to his right, maybe she will marry me and have my babies.
Ok, back to the action. The gang roars up to our band of heroes, forcing them to take refuge in what looks to be a large cantina. In one of the creepier bits, a nun (!) is strung up in the hall, her feet thudding against a juke box in the wind from the open windows, a snippet of music playing with each tap. Though a bit morbid, this is perhaps the best visual of the movie and I'm surprised I haven't seen it since in some other rip-off film.
The thought-lost cabin boy Manuel reappears on the street now, yelling to Mike for him to run away. It seems that Manuel has had a change of heart and is trying to help his former friends survive. For his trouble, Manuel takes an arrow (fired from a bow and arrow, seriously) and dies in the dirt. He had to go, if for no other reason than he looked like Tony Shalub from Monk and I hate that guy.
The archer takes aim.
The two Red Shirt Ensign scientists now just run out to surrender and die horrible deaths, mostly to show how mean and evil the gang is and how stupid it is to be a liberal-minded pacifist in a time of great danger. One of these days, just one of these days, I'd like to see one of these nameless, faceless background extras actually survive one of these movies. They don't have to do anything, they don't even have to have any relevancy to the plot, I just want one of them to be standing when the closing credits roll. Is that too much to ask?
Doctor Expendable dies from a sword slash to the forehead.
The gang then mounts an attack on the cantina, with some guys scaling the walls while others lay down covering fire. One vehicle has a Browning .50 caliber machinegun and burst after burst chews up the furniture and walls of the cantina while our heroes duck and hide. It's explicitly said that our heroes only have one pistol (Mike's .45 ACP) and just three rounds for it, so much of the action is one-sided. The attack peters off after they push one gangster off the wall to his death and punch a few more. You'd think that with such a major advantage in firepower, the bad guys could easily swarm the cantina and kill everyone, but you'd be forgetting that this is a movie.
Attack on the cantina.
They escape out the back of the cantina, which is rather easy for them to do, suggesting that the gang was only watching the front door (typical movie bad guy behavior). Out on a suburban street, they run for their lives. Being sneaky, however, Mike and Wash take the time to stop and string a wire across the road to decapitate a motorcycle rider (1980's special effects at their worst). Another gangster is killed by Mike with a bullet to the chest, which if my counting is right, leaves him with only two bullets left for his pistol. We don't see it happen, but we can assume that for the rest of the day they run and hide from the chasing gang, always staying one step ahead despite a total lack of familiarity with the town and the fact that the gang is mounted in vehicles and has a 100-to-1 manpower advantage.
Running for dear life, love the Colonial-era Filipino architecture.
Night falls, and our five survivors are still working their way through the burning and destroyed ruins of the town. They reach a large warehouse in a rundown industrial area and take shelter, the air filled with smoke and burning ash from fires. The bad guys are out searching for them, and they seem to know they are holed up in here. They are hunting down all survivors and killing them, and our party of five make tempting targets.
Ruins at night.
With time short, they look around in the crates for something to use to defend themselves. In one of those amazing movie coincidences, they find a crate of brand new double-barrel shotguns and boxes of shells! They also find a crate of booze that they will use as Molotov cocktails (lit with a blowtorch of all things).
Mike, with shotgun, poses heroically in the moonlight.
The gang arrives and their first frontal attack is beaten off with some difficulty, as the numbers and firepower are definitely on the side of the bad guys, though the high ground and the fortified position benefits our heroes. The action is furious and bloody, six bad guys are killed by a combination of shotgun blasts and alcohol bombs and the rest slowly retreat back out of range. Crystal Skull Mask Guy is not happy, and to show his displeasure he smacks his riding crop into his palm forcefully.
Every movie like this has to have a guy on fire.
During a lull in the fighting, our heroes do some work on their impromptu fortress, piling stuff in front of windows and preparing more Molotov cocktails for the expected second attack. The Professor also rewires the generator to get the lights on again (he can do that, you know, because he's a scientist and all).
The Professor is a god, maybe he can fix my car's power steering pump.
They also find three more civilian survivors hiding in the basement; a middle-aged man named Larry and two women named Barbara and Eliza. They were on their way to a cocktail party when the gang started to go crazy and hid in here for dear life, which explains their fancy dresses and tuxedo. Larry is an annoying bugger, but the two women are kinda cute (though don't get attached to any of them, if you know what I mean). This scene allows for some serious exposition, as Larry and the women seem to have a lot of knowledge of the gang and the attacks (more than they should know considering they say they've been hiding here all this time). We learn that all the telephone, radio and television links were cut as the attacks started, isolating the island from the world. This explains (weakly) how all that we have and are about to see can take place in a relative vacuum where the US Navy hasn't already dropped a Marine Expeditionary Force upon this island.
One last attack is mounted in the pre-dawn darkness, the gang pulling out all the stops to overrun the defenders. The center cannot hold and the lines are pushed back nearly to the breaking point. The two cocktail party women are killed in gruesome ways (one with an arrow through her mouth pinning her against a wall and the other roasted alive by a flamethrower!). Cathy is taken hostage and the attack peters out soon afterwards. We learn later that the gang was deliberately targeting Cathy for some reason, striving to capture her alive. Once they have her, the gang retreats.
Once the gang has left, Mike goes after Cathy, though his plan consists of "run that way". Along the way, he bumps into yet another survivor in the ruins. This is a Dutch Guy who looks like Michael Beihn and sounds like Jean Claude Van Damme (yeah, I know, he's Belgian, shut up). The Dutch Guy is an escaped convict who fled the prison as the gang was ravaging the island and has been hiding ever since. He takes a fast liking to Mike, as they are both a bit of the scruffy violent type, and from here on out he's part of the team. They both return to the others, Mike quite quickly giving up on looking for Cathy (though we can see he's a bit smitten with her by now).
The Dutch Guy, he's quite dreamy.
While he was gone, the Professor digs through Cathy's notes and figures everything out. Atlantis has risen again, centuries after being destroyed in a civil war that wiped clean nearly every trace of its existence. The radiation from the sunken submarine somehow released its power again, causing it to return to the surface. As to what they want with Cathy, he speculates that they "need her knowledge". Got all that? I hope so, because I'm not repeating it.
Ok, let's recap. Our six-man crew consists now of Mike and Wash, Bill and the Professor, and Larry and the Dutch Guy. As daylight comes, they make their escape on a commandeered city bus (sporting Spanish-language signs on the rear). They are headed to the docks, where the Dutch Guy says a helicopter is parked.
For some reason never explained, they have found a cache of automatic weapons on the bus (which is maybe supposed to be a Police bus, but is clearly painted with a local Manila transportation company logo). Wash and Bill have ancient Thompson submachine guns (a staple of Italian movies but damn near impossible to find in real life) and Mike has an M-16A2 rifle, improbably fitted with both an under-barrel grenade launcher and a large optical targeting scope. As with a lot of these crappy action movies, all these guns are "magical" in that they have nearly bottomless magazines, allowing them to fire nonstop for the entire rest of the movie without once reloading (one of my biggest pet peeves with firearms in movies, and I blame The A-Team almost wholly for making this acceptable).
The M-16, from a later scene.
A white and blue helicopter now shows up, flown by gangsters bent on stopping our heroes. The helo (an MBB Bo-105, if you must know) slowly glides in and drops off a couple of guys onto the roof of the bus. Seeing as how the eight guys in the helo are all armed with assault rifles, you wonder why they don't just riddle the bus from above, saving them all that effort. We also wonder why our heroes on the bus, who are also all very well armed, sit there and let the helo slowly creep down over them and drop off boarders, when they could just stick their guns out the windows and punch a lot of holes in the helo and drive them off.
But, I do have to say that it's nice to see the old school stuntman work here, with two live humans jumping from a helicopter onto the roof of a speeding bus without the aid of computer masking or any obvious wires. One can only imagine the insurance premiums for this production had it been shot in America instead of the Philippines, where those sorts of safety laws are merely "suggestions".
Jumping on to the roof as the helo pulls away.
The first two bad guys are shot off the roof easily. The helo then comes by second time, again sliding up slow as a walrus to drop off another couple of guys onto the roof. This time they manage to get inside and start shooting before being eliminated. Larry dies with a bullet in his brain, which is no great loss as he really has had nothing worthwhile to do or say since he first showed up (and he was clearly the most expendable of the group due to his unfashionable bald head and ruffled tuxedo).
Larry dies, eh.
The helo then helpfully stays level and on station twenty yards away while Mike crawls up on the roof of the bus, braces himself against the luggage rack, and opens fire with his Magic-M-16. The helo even more helpfully paces the bus at low altitude while being raked with automatic weapons fire. The insert shot of the r/c model helicopter exploding in a big ball of flame is lame. The explodo-matic helicopter trick in movies has always pissed me off. Sure it looks cool, but in real life helicopters just don't explode like that when shot at with small arms fire (well, unless they are packed to the gills with crates of nitroglycerine and fertilizer).
Exploding helo, not the best cap, but it does show the little motor fan on the remote-controlled model's underside.
Now they run a weak roadblock across the road leading down to the docks. Once again, the gangsters seem completely unable to hit a large 30-foot long bus with a single bullet, despite firing automatic weapons at near point-blank range. Our heroes, however, have no such problems and are able to shred a number of gangsters as they crash through the barricade in a shower of metal fragments and transferred paint. Watch how the instant the bus barely touches the rear end of that parked Impala, it explodes in a rolling fireball that shoots flames fifty feet in the air, another A-Team crime against humanity.
A collage of bad guys at the roadblock.
For some reason, there at the end of the dock on a platform sits an old Army surplus UH-1 Iroquois helicopter (with a full tank of gas and the engine primed and all pre-flight checks done, but without anyone within a hundred yards of it guarding the damn thing). Wash drives the bus right up to the helo and they all pile out and rush to climb aboard. Now, remember that Bill is a helicopter pilot by trade so he knows what he's doing when he cranks up the rotors.
While they take off, Mike holds the charging bad guys a bay, crawling up onto the roof of the bus and pouring burst after burst from his Magic-M-16 into the gangsters, who most helpfully jog slowly towards him across the open dock, just begging for death. A few bad guys race in on motorcycles, but they all swerve off to the side and fly off the dock and into the water (pretty cool stunts). I should note that amongst the myriad of modern weaponry that the gangsters employ (all of which would easily pulp a single man standing exposed on the roof of the bus at short range) we see one maybe two shoulder-launched anti-tank rockets (!). But, of course, they never use these to maul the bus or even the hovering helicopter as it just wouldn't be sporting. Instead they just rush headlong into the wave of bullets with machetes and swords drawn.
Tired of the shooting and the killing and the maiming, Mike waves the helo over closer. He then jumps up and pulls himself up on the landing skid, in a pointlessly cool scene designed solely just to get a union stuntman wearing a frizzy hair wig some work. The machinegun-armed gangsters nicely hold their fire while the helo hovers fifteen feet off the ground for thirty seconds while those inside pull Mike up into the cabin before flying off.
Mike's last stand, actually a very well-framed and shot sequence, if laughably stupid.
With the helicopter, they fly out to the location of Atlantis (it rose near the lost oil rig, though the coordinates are vague). Along the way we learn that Mike can kinda sorta fly the helo (he learned back in 'Nam) and that the Professor is really fucking annoying. I'm also thinking that maybe they should have asked the Dutch Guy to be a little more specific about the nature of his recent criminal background before giving him a machinegun and a free ride along with them off the island. Their motivation for coming out to Atlantis is to get Cathy back. I'm thinking maybe they should use that gas to go get help!?! You know, like maybe the Puerto Rican Coast Guard or even the US FUCKING NAVY!!!! Yeah, maybe you should take the chopper, fly to a phone booth and call in some A-7s before this Atlantis thing gets out of hand, that might help, eh? But no, Mike's testosterone-fueled quest to recover some woman he just met six hours ago takes precedence over the survival of Western Civilization. She's not even that hot.
Bil and Mike talking in the helo.
It is not long before they spy "Atlantis", which is a stock footage island maybe ten miles square. As they approach the island, a "tractor beam" pulls them down. Bill fights the pull, grunting and yanking ineffectually on the yoke and throttle as the helo shakes and the rest of them shout unhelpfully that they are "going down!". The tractor beam sets them down softly and safely, which is damn peculiar, and they all get out and wander around.
The island of Atlantis!
It's not long before they are attacked by gangsters (so they traveled out here? How? Why?), who charge at them across the open flood lands, shooting ineffectually and getting butchered in return by the amazingly accurate return fire from our heroes. A dozen or so bad guys meet their demise here, in exchange for one little scratch on the Professor's leg.
Bill and his MagicThompson chop up the bad guys.
They then find that previously-sunken Russian sub! Remember that one, the boat that got lost when the Atlantis rising storm swamped out the oil rig? Well, for some reason not properly explained, the boat has washed ashore here on the island. She sits thirty yards onto the beach, so she must have been tossed her by the storm surge (but that makes zero sense as we clearly saw the storm come up, the island rise, the dome open, and then the storm die off, so you'd think there wouldn't be a strong enough surge to push this 4,000 ton hunk of metal that far ashore). The set for the beached sub is actually fairly impressive, if probably a matte painting in the long shots.
The sub, nicely done.
So, they have this "plan" to (I guess) deactivate the nuclear missiles on the sub so that the radiation won't leak out anymore, thus maybe forcing Atlantis beneath the sea again. The Professor says he can do this, despite the dangers (which are considerable as he's about to essentially hug a leaking nuclear pile, which can't be good for your complexion), as it's their only chance. They split up now. Mike and the Dutch Guy head off into the jungle to find Cathy while Wash, Bill and the Professor run for the submarine.
Our crew chat about what to do next, Wash seems to be smelling his hand.
The Professor gets inside the sub while the other two stand guard. He pretty much just walks up to a hatch with a flywheel on the outside, grunts a bit, and turns the wheel to open the hatch. He then drops straight down into a waterlogged passageway (which looks like a basement of an office building). Inside the sub he sloshes around, seemingly knowing exactly where he is going, stumbling across some decaying Russian crewmen and getting all freaked out. We don't see it, but the Professor does his magic inside the sub, "neutralizing" the nuclear weapons (whatever the hell that means). How he could possibly have any idea of how to breach the security protocols on a Russian nuclear weapon is beyond the limit of my patience and I just don't care anymore (nor do you, admit it).
Inside the sub, crawling along in the tunnels.
Out in the mud flats along the beach, the bad guy gangsters are attacking again. Caught out in the open, Bill is shot in the back at very close range by a .44 revolver, but still manages to find the strength to shoot his attacker and then artfully stumble around before falling over dramatically into the water. Of course, he should have dropped dead instantly, a gaping hole the size of a soccer ball in his chest, but in movies like this the heroes can always take +5 Damage Points without rolling for Constitution. Wash goes crazy at this loss.
Bill dies and Wash isn't happy.
As the Professor pokes his head out to announce that he's succeeded in whatever the hell he was doing in the sub, he's shot dead. His killer is James, one of the two hapless expendable scientists that I thought were killed way back in the first assault on the cantina back on that other island. I guess only one was killed and the other (James) was "converted to the cause" (which totally goes against everything that we've seen up to now about how the Atlantians killed everyone they encountered, but what do I know). Anyway, James, despite being a wimpy pale nuclear scientist just a few days before, is now a crack marksman with an M-14 rifle, hitting the Professor square in the forehead from several hundred yards with a single shot over open iron sights without any bracing (trust me, that's freakin' impossible).
James takes his shot, though note both eyes are open and he's not even looking through the sites.
Wash goes nuts again (he clearly doesn't do well with being alone) and holds the trigger down on his MagicThompson. I swear, he fires a thousand rounds at random into the jungle, yelling and screaming and stumbling around like Jimmy V looking for someone to hug. I don't think this actor has said a single line in this movie that wasn't yelled, screamed, or shouted.
Its Ducky from Pretty in Pink! And he's got a gun!
Meanwhile, Mike and the Dutch Guy head off to find Cathy. They enter the jungle, working their way through the thick steamy undergrowth, seemingly walking at random. How do they have any idea where they are going? Are they just wandering around hoping something will pop up? In one of the goofier moments in an already legendarly goofy movie, we are supposed to believe that Mike and the Dutch Guy take the time to construct and set elaborate booby traps with trip wires and spiked bamboo bats on cantilever swings (despite the fact that they clearly didn't have any rope or knives or anything on them when they went into the jungle, and it defies logic that they would have the time to do all this anyway). But it does look kinda cool to see a rubber dummy impaled on bamboo spikes with stage blood leaking out.
Death by booby trap.
And then in perhaps the MOST goofy scene in the entire movie, out in the middle of nowhere in the thickest part of the jungle, Mike and the Dutch Guy find a satchel holding that Atlantian tablet! Yes, the very same one that Cathy had earlier in the movie, the one she was translating when everything went kablooey. It's just laying there in their path, the tablet artfully sticking out halfway. In yet another goofy moment, Mike picks the tablet up and holds it up to the sun. Somehow the tablet "guides" him towards Cathy. Well, I guess the producers realized (while on location with the clock ticking and the money short) that they had no way of logically getting Mike to Cathy, so they quickly threw this scene together (certainly suggested by some unpaid intern). Still, this is the type of movie where it's best not to question things like this, so let's just move on.
Finding the tablet.
The Dutch Guy is killed eventually in another firefight, having time to make a quip about seeing Mike on the other side before flopping over with a bleeding hole in his back. Mike emotes over his loss a little too much before heading out into the jungle alone again. I'm going to miss the Dutch Guy, he brought some pizzazz to this crappy film.
The Dutch Guy dies.
Mike finds an entrance to the underground city, which is oddly inside a dark, water-filled cavern. You wonder why this advanced civilization lives underground anyway, their island has been protected with that dome, so you'd think they would feel safe living on the surface. Name me one single advanced civilization ever in history that chose to live underground when they had total control of the surface.
The doorway to the underground lair looks like the tablet, who knew?
Mike now fights Crystal Skull Mask Guy in a one-on-one, boss-at-the-end-of-the-level throwdown. Whips are swung, cane-swords are unsheathed, and an M-16 chooses an inopportune moment to jam. Mask Guy is a weak opponent, however, probably due to his drastically reduced vision looking through those tiny eye-holes in that mask. Mike smashes the mask with his rifle butt, driving shards into the man's brain to kill him (shards? Of crystal?).
Death of CSMG (or at least a rubber mask that looks like CSMG).
Entering the underground city, Mike comes across a small stone idol shaped like a winged lion. The idol starts to shoot out scratch-on-the-film-negative laser beams! Mike, being able to dodge light, ducks out of the way and bides him time as the beams zip and zap around him. Man, the pounding musical score here is simply overpowering, forcing me to turn down the volume several times (I hate having to work like this).
Just when it looks grim, Wash shows up then! How he knew exactly where to go when even Mike had to stumble around blindly in the jungle before he found this place, and how Wash managed to get here at this exact moment when just in the last scene he was down at the beach is not really that important. The important thing is that Wash has his Magic-Thompson still (which apparently still holds 3,785 rounds in the clip) and he uses it to chop up the laser-shooting-thingies.
Wash saves the day again (he actually seems to do this a lot in this movie, though he never gets his due credit).
Next up they encounter a wind tunnel, and are pulled towards a spinning, cutting fan of death. The "wind" is only a tenth as strong as the actors make it out to be, and this scene is excruciatingly tedious to sit though. Any sort of tension they try to build with the whole death-by-wind thing is negated by the sheer dumbassness of having a big spiked fan at the end of a normal-looking hallway. Who designed this place?
Wash and Mike fight against the "wind".
That over, a hidden door shushes open! Inside is that big open sci-fiy place with all these geometric video screens that seem to be in all these sorts of movies. Cathy is standing at a podium in the middle of the room, looking all glassy eyed and slathered in white make-up. She's babbling the Atlantis company line about death and destruction and the Second Coming of toga-wearing denizens of the deep and all that. Seriously, this sucks.
What the hell?
All of this is head-scratchingly confusing (and smacks of a production vastly over budget with a few scenes left to film and even the union catering crew having bolted already), but it seems that Mike and Wash manage to convince Cathy to desert her new Atlantian masters through the sage reverse-psychology method of yelling "Hey, snap out of it!" to her over and over again. Cathy seems to understand their pleas and warns them that the dome is closing so they better run.
She looks like a backup dancer for Robert Plant.
Unable to make it to Cathy, Mike and Wash instead make a run for helo. Mike and Wash discover that Cathy is inside the helo waiting for them!!!! She's all better now, and most oddly is dressed just like before she was kidnapped way back when, the same clothes, make-up and hair. Hey, they had to get her off the island somehow, right? Why not use off-screen teleportation?
Cathy in helo, looking all dazed and confused (like me).
They take off (after some comic moments where Mike forgets how to start the engine) and pound the throttles down. Above them, that funky transparent dome is slowly closing, signaling the re-submerging of the island! Why, oh why is this happening is never explained, nor is why the island is so small to begin with and how all this happened and why I still care. I'm still trying to explain all those sunlight-needing trees and plants on this island that has supposedly been underwater for 12,000 years. Anyway, they make it through the closing dome by just inches and escape to safety to the hoots and hollers of the men.
Escaping just in the nick of time.
Cathy starts to slobber on Mike almost instantly, groping and rubbing him from behind as they fly off...somewhere. This bit of last-second forced romance between Mike and Cathy comes totally out of left field, it's icky and wrong and I won't stand for it. I'm ending this review right now out of protest (though I think I'm more jealous that I can't get a girl as cute as Cathy right now, but maybe I just need a machinegun and some tight white jeans and a comedic Islamic sidekick).
Written in September 2008 by Nathan Decker.
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