Killing to stay alive
Gazette File Photo
THEY LOOK AT DANGER AND THEY LAUGH THEIR ASS OFF. Tom Sizemore and Penelope Anne Miller in The Relic
Starring Penelope Ann Miller and Tom Sizemore
Directed by Peter Hyams
At Famous Players 6, 7:40 and 10:10 p.m.
In the tradition of Jurassic Park, Hollywood endeavours yet again try to turn a best-selling novel into a blockbuster thriller. This time though, it didn't work.
The Relic, in its motion picture format, lacks much of the descriptive lustre of the print version created by acclaimed authors Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. The film is chronically unbelievable and does not contain the scientific justifications found in Jurassic Park that would give the storyline more credibility.
The saving grace of this movie, however, is the performance of Penelope Miller (Carlito's Way) and Tom Sizemore (Striking Distance). Miller plays an evolutionary biologist who teams up with a superstitious Chicago cop (Sizemore) to stop the murderous rampage of the Kothoga, a blood-thirsty creature with origins drawn from South American mythology. While Miller is positioned as the star of the movie, Sizemore's part is much more compelling by his depiction of the stereotypical rugged male hero. This character may be the only sense of realism you can find in this film.
Miller's performance is also strong, but the finer points of her portrayal came from the chemistry and banter between her character and Sizemore's. While she has the distinction of having given Pee Wee Herman his first onscreen kiss in 1988's Big Top Pee Wee, she steps to greater heights in The Relic.
The plot of The Relic focuses on an ancient South American myth which centres on an ancient tribe's deal with the devil to kill off its enemies. This deal results in the creation of Kothoga, which is later explained as the result of a normal creature's combination of its DNA with the super-hormones found in a rare plant leaf. In order for the Kothoga to continue living, it must receive an ample supply of hormones found in most creatures, hence all the killing.
As a thriller, The Relic satisfies its audience by keeping the pace quick and highly charged. Suspense and fear are well-crafted by director Peter Hyams, who effectively uses music and special effects to produce the necessary stomach-churning often found in a good horror movie. The storyline lacks credibility, but is somewhat compensated by the acting of two stars who are sure to be seen in future films. On the whole not bad, but some stories are better left in print.