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USA 1984
Directed by
Fred Schepisi
100 minutes
Rated PG

1.5 stars


The premise of this movie about a group of scientists working in the Arctic who discover a pre-historic man encased in ice who they bring back to life and try to "humanize" is the stuff of 50s B grade movies and it's not easy to understand why it was dignified with an upmarket production. Australian director Schepisi is an odd choice to helm this project, but perhaps the producers (who included Norman Jewison) couldn't get the more appropriate John Boorman who presumably was working on The Emerald Forest (and perhaps the naming of the Neanderthal man "Charlie" is a reference to Boorman whose son, Charlie, starred in that movie). Perhaps too had this film made more use of the spectacular landscape of snow-covered British Columbia where its exteriors were filmed it might have had more merit but as it was shot on a tinpot set with a lot of fake rocks it looks very ordinary.

Schepisi used regular Australian collaborators Ian Baker for cinematography and Bruce Smeaton for music but neither add anything of note (well, Smeaton recycles some notes from the pan pipes in Picnic At Hanging Rock) to what is an ill-conceived and weakly-written project that comes dangerously close to the ludicrous. Tim Hutton who peaked early in his career, winning a Best Supporting Oscar for his performance in Ordinary People (1980) is, except for his beard and hair, miscast, and the rest of the talent (including Danny Glover as the token spade) turn in pretty much straight B grade efforts. Tackily made-up John Lone makes his Neanderthal a likable duffer but one can't help but wonder on what research his performance is based, let alone why anyone thought it a good idea to make this film.




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