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fan Ron Lordi's LAND OF THE GIANTS
REVIEW OF RON LORDI'S LAND OF THE GIANTS
The tight script for Ron Lordi's LAND OF THE GIANTS was very well done. It incorporated several airport scences from WILD JOURENY, all of the unaired pilot's sequences that were not in the aired version of THE CRASH, the crashlandings (plural) that were in aired version, the car running over Steve and Dan, the giant boy picking up the spaceship, and many other attributes of THE CRASH. The ship taking off, did so using the method used in Murray Leinster's novel THE TRAP. As for the aired THE TRAP, we have Steve deciding to use the ship parts to save the girls (only here this includes Barry) against the fact that they may never leave the land of the giants.
Intermeshed with all of THE CRASH sequences are actually some very well made sequences which do not appear in THE CRASH. These include characters from other episodes--Jodar from GENIUS AT WORK (although he acts nothing like his TV counterpart at all), Dr. Arno from THE CLONES, and a surprisingly effective ape called Bobo from THE MARIONETTES. Bobo, here, was half man (his head) and half gorilla (his body). One very fun line has Dan, after being told that Val was captured by a giant ape-man, ask Steve, "What kind of ape-man?" This was a bit like some of the later VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEAs where Nelson might ask, "What kind of giant jellyfish?" Very funny.
The scences at Intra Space Airlines-Cestus airlines are extremely well done and interesting...and funny! The man who plays Collier (a woman in the aired episode WILD JOURNEY) is a hoot and has some very funny lines when indicating Mark Wilson, Valerie Scott, and where his secretary went to get his coffee. This actor is very good and convincing. One mistake is that Barry's aunt tells him to have a good time in New York but they were going to London.
Some changes: Barry is four years old, Betty's hair is very long and brunette, Valerie is brunette, it is Mark who follows Fitzhugh out of the Spindrift--not Barry, Jodar is working in the Science Center with Dr. Arno and is not too friendly to the little people although he does worry about Arno having to disect them, and Bobo is Dr. Arno's experiment. Dan is obviously white. The actor who plays Dan is adequate and interesting. The actor who plays Steve is serious throughout, as are all. Steve, however, is extremely serious and he does a great job leading this crew. He manages to make that speech at the finale without being hokey. The actress who plays Betty captured her innocent stance rather well and all of her scences with Barry are well done. I also realize how difficult it is to work with children in any production and the Barry sequences are very well done and add a certain charm to the overall movie. His laying down in the box is a hilariously good touch. Fitzhugh was alittle too Dr. Smith-ish for my taste but this actor, having a tough role to fill (Kurt's!) did rather well, considering. He also made Fitzhugh a bit different from the series but in a good, novel way. His sympathetic saving of some of the crew is really quite good. Valerie had a tough job also: filling the great Deanna's shoes but also she had the most effects laden shots to deal with. This is really difficult and she also had to scream quite a bit. All in all a good job.
The giants: Jodar was adequate. Bobo was Bobo (and anyone would admit to this guy having a lot of...guts in playing a man-ape or is it an ape-man in this fashion) and actually, given the character was not really too prominent on the series or even that memorable, this actor makes him both. The actor who played Dr. Arno captured that sense of a subtle but evil man with intentions not to be a nice guy. One really campy part is when Steve and Val ask what he intends to do with them and he just stares and stares...and then raises his eyebrows, leaving us to imagine the worst. Kobick was also fitting and he looked like Kobick but why was he wearing a T-shirt? Any jacket or tie would have made him look even more like Kobick and maybe a set of glasses...oh well, it could be that the ever obssessed Kobick had a day off and spent it tracking down the little people. Without giving too much away, these four giant presenses give the little people a run for their lives.
Animals and insects: the first creepy crawly was a bit laughable with two eyes that looked crayoned on. The second was a lot more creepy and the way it was dispatched...was quite graphic for any LAND OF THE GIANTS. Very good. The other animal to give them trouble was one that surprized me and at first, it seemed silly but the ending of the attack is rather well done with what could have been an almost matte shot and it also has some kind of reference to KING KONG, one of two or three.
A few of the actual matte shots don't work at all: the car and the saving of Valerie from the paw of Bobo don't really work. All of the giants' hands coming down at the little people, down with trick camera work, are very effective and almost reach the quality of the series! In fact, in some instances, they better it. The hand of the TV show was not really convincing but it was fun, as is this movie. The old slip under the doorway was rather imaginatively handled here. All of the forest sequences with the giants are rather engaging and keep your attention.
The spaceship scences are a bit awkward with the spaceship not really looking like the Spindrift much at all and the shaking of the ship a bit unplanned as everyone shakes the wrong way. Maybe as David Hedison told us the next time, someone can bang a on a steel pail for them to go in one direction, then bang again for the other direction. This mistake happened on LOST IN SPACE-THE FLAMING PLANET-when Penny and Judy shake in the galley in the teaser before the credits, they shake the wrong way--moving up the part that is not dipping down!
At times, reaction shots linger a bit too long but overall the interplay between characters and actors is fine!
One more thing: clever use of music and sound effects, however no more JURASSIC PARK. While I like the music to that great film, it was used far too much. PLANET OF THE APES was also nicely used and very fitting as some of this was used in GIANTS on TV. I also rather think THE TIME TUNNEL theme music was very out of place. I'd have rather seen the first season GIANTS music used. Now with the CD soundtracks out, there should be plenty of Irwin Allen music to use but please no more JURASSIC PARK tunes. The William Lava music used was also very good and difficult to place. It sounded a bit like the TV movies THE NIGHT STALKER or THE NIGHT STRANGLER (both with Darren McGavin) but I am not sure that is where they are from.
In all, Ron Lordi and cast and crew did a magnificent job with little money and did what no one else could do under the same circumstances (or even better circumstances!)--another LAND OF THE GIANTS. I, for one, can't wait to see the next one! Keep up the inspiring work!