King Solomon's Mines (1985)

Rating: **
Review Date: 3/15/17
Music: Jerry Goldsmith
Screenplay: Gene Quintano, Jim Silke
Cast: Richard Chamberlain, Sharon Stone, John Rhys-Davies

Fortune hunter Allan Quatermain (Richard Chamberlain) is hired by a young archeologist named Jesse Huston (Sharon Stone) to locate her missing father in the jungles of Africa. Her father may know the whereabouts of the fabled mines of King Solomon, and there are several unsavory parties who are very interested in obtaining such knowledge. Quatermain intends to find the mines first, while being chased by the German military, a ruthless Turkish slave trader (John Rhys-Davies), lions, and cannibals.

The film is embarrassingly awful, and in many ways serves as a blueprint for the equally bad "Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade" (1989). The characters are goofy and the dialog is extremely corny, which makes the film challenging to watch. It clearly tries to rip off "Raiders Of The Lost Ark" (1981), but the action scenes are weak, the visual effects are terrible, and the film never takes itself (or anything) seriously. Richard Chamberlain does an adequate job as a wisecracking hero, but is unconvincing as a tough guy, while John Rhys-Davies gives an overly exaggerated performance as a regrettably stereotypical foreign villain. A young Sharon Stone is quite stunning, but her character is extremely annoying and suffers from being a clumsy, snobby, dim-witted damsel in distress. Or as Quatermain puts it, "you're not IN distress, you CAUSE distress." While Jesse's demeaning and unflattering portrayal isn't Ms. Stone's fault, it's a sobering reminder of how women were viewed in the 1980s and what roles were available to them at the time. In order to get work, "ditzy blonde" had to be a prominent part of an actress's repertoire. And sex appeal, of course. Another amusing aspect of Jesse is that her shorts get increasingly shorter and tighter as the film progresses, until at the very end they're super short and slit all the way up the sides.

Apart from the disappointing effects and stunt work, the film actually looks pretty good and the Zimbabwe locations and sets are bright and colorful. One standout aspect is Jerry Goldsmith's bold and heroic music score, which does a nice job of supporting the lighthearted adventurous spirit of the film. If the film had opted to play it straight rather than as a goofy romantic adventure comedy, it probably would have fared much better and not left such a bad taste in my mouth. Films like this are what turned me away from Hollywood and made me seek out Asian cinema.