Friday, July 24, 2015

Short Attention Span Review: The Relic (1996)

It's an old story: a great book goes to Hollywood and becomes the basis for a lesser movie.  What can I say?  The best stories are told on paper and they can't always be transferred to the big screen without losing a little something along the way.  Sometimes they lose a lot.  Yet there are cases--like The Relic--where the book is so incredible that even a lukewarm adaptation makes for an entertaining show.  While it is surely a far cry from the book, to include the absence of the novel's main character and a far less impressive conclusion, The Relic still works in a variety of ways.  The mood and the sets are top-notch and the very idea of setting a creature feature in a museum (which is poised to debut a new exhibit entitled "Superstition") gives the picture a slick and creepy vibe.  The cast (Penelope Ann Miller and Tom Sizemore are the stars, and the wonderful Linda Hunt makes the most of her role) is on point and the direction c/o Peter Hyams is equal parts ominous and exciting.  Stan Winston provided a stellar design for the monster and most of the effects are solid.  The Relic also benefits from holding off on showing us the beast that roams the halls of the museum until the closing reel, generating a lot of suspense on the way to the grand finale.  Unfortunately, the biggest failing from the effects team comes during the climax of the picture, . . . and that's a real bummer.  Honestly, if there were no book to compare this film to and the final confrontation with the fearsome creature that causes so much havoc along the way wasn't bungled, this would be classic horror fare.  As it is, it's well worth a watch in spite of its flaws, and viewers who dig horror should be able to sink their teeth into this one.  It's not the horror movie equivalent of a good steak, but a decent burger will do in a pinch.

Final Grade: C
Great sets are among the movie's many strengths.

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