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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Relic

Good acting, directing revives familiar science fiction tale

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 12, 1997 -- While it seemed like "Alien" all over again, with echoes of "Jaws" and "Die Hard," "The Relic" is a better-than-average science fiction film.

Set in the dark, creepy underbelly of a large museum, this familiar story takes us prowling around in the wetness and darkness while people are picked off one by one by a horrible monster.

One of the similarities between this film and "Aliens," for instance is that both films feaure claustrophobic sets with dripping, slimy monsters on the loose. Both this film and "Aliens" were produced by Gale Ann Hurd ("The Abyss") who is very partial to strong women characters. In "Aliens" it was Sigourney Weaver, of course. In this film it's Penelope Ann Miller ("The Shadow") as the pretty doctor, Margo Green.

Tom Sizemore ("Heat") plays the Die Hard-type character, Lt. Vincent D'Agosta, a rugged big-city homicide detective who's smarter than he looks. Both Miller and Sizemore have good screen presence and they've got chemistry, too.

The plot of the film is about as silly as can be. There's some mumbo jumbo about ancient tribal genetic engineering fungus or some such nonsense, but it's clearly just an excuse to have this monster running loose.

Then there's the scene out of "Jaws" where the head of the museum, Ann Cuthbert (academy-award-winner Linda Hunt) argues for the opening of the museum to open so the monster can eat the patrons, or is that the mayor wanting the shark to eat the tourists?

Despite that, the monster in the dark stuff works because the lead actors are very effective and there's a veteran director, Peter Hyams ("Narrow Margin," "Sudden Death"), who's at the top of his form. He works the formula for all its worth and keeps you right on the edge of your seat. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 1997 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)