Somehow, one imagines the creators of The Raiders of Atlantis in a production meeting trying to decide just what type of film they were going to make: a Mad Max copy? An Indiana Jones retread? A Jungle movie? A lost world film? A science fiction film? An Action film? A sea-going adventure? A buddy cop movie? A Commando movie?
…And then someone said, “let’s do all of them!”
All one can say is, “only in Italy.” Back in the Eighties — and for some time before and after, for that matter — their film industry had devoted itself to producing cheap films for the American market, most of them attempts to cash in on the success of other, better films. But, because they were made in a hurry for next to nothing, they often contain the damnedest things: the sort of things that would have been quickly rejected on even a moderately budgeted Hollywood effort.
Let’s face it: their routine product was basically dreary. But thanks to this sort of absurdist freedom (i.e., no one cares enough about whatever you decide to do that they would try to eliminate your goofy ideas) they did manage to make a few films that are so totally bonkers that they’re worth a look. Well, at least, if you are willing to risk a bit of bad dubbing, poorly-written dialogue, and plot holes big enough to drop the Titanic down.
Yep, we’ve got all of those here. Although the dubbing is at least better than average.
It’s set in futuristic 1999 — which just happens to look exactly like 1983. We start with the average, Hollywood-style, unrelated opening commando raid carried out by our two heroes, Mike and Wash — who then go on vacation. Next, we meet a young woman who has been more or less kidnapped by government agents and taken out to an offshore oil rig — so she can interpret the writing on an ancient tablet. They try to raise a Soviet nuclear sub — Atlantis rises. Mike and Wash get lost, but find a Caribbean island — unfortunately, it just happens to be the one where the ancestors of the ancient Atlanteans have thrown aside their business suits, dressed up like they’re going to a mascara company’s Mad Max cosplay party, and slaughtered everyone in town.
One could go on, but you get the general idea.
This is one seriously goofy film. Somehow it could perhaps best be summed up by one of the absolutely incredible action sequences: a helicopter drops barbarians on top of a moving bus, and the people inside fight them off. You actually see them drop off the chopper, fall several feet and land on its roof. It has to be one of the more dangerous –and real — stunts I’ve seen on screen. There’s no safety net on this one! But as you watch it, you become very aware of just how impossibly smooth and straight the road would have to be to do this — and then, only if the bus driver managed to keep it from swaying at all.
This is a movie that never lets you forget for a moment just how preposterous it is.
Oh, well. The ending doesn’t make a lick of sense — but it does have a Sphinx statue with glowing eyes that shoot lasers. That does sort of balance things out…
Well, a little.
Let’s face it, we’re talking Midnight movie here. It’s a lot of absurd fun, at least if you can lock the rational part of your brain away long enough and accept enough flaws to fill that giant plastic sphere on the bottom of the sea.
Just don’t blame me for any mild brain damage it causes.
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