Genre: adventure; romance
Plot Summary: When Elizabeth Maitland’s father, a learned archaeologist, is kidnapped and held for ransom by a native African tribe, she goes in search of her father’s guide—the hunter known as Allan Quartermain. Together they search for the ancient mines of King Solomon, and the African king Twala who seeks total power.
My Review: I am well aware that “King Solomon’s Mines” has been made into various films and tv series during the length and breadth of cinema’s history. For good reason—the Haggard classic holds much danger, adventure, and extraordinary exploits. It’s ripe for Hollywood’s picking! I also am aware of the temptation said industry has of injecting a love affair in the middle of the drama where there was none in the book. (Actually, there was but only between two minor characters.)
I much prefer when movies stick at least relatively close to the book. That being said, I wanted to watch at least one film version. Even though I pictured Quartermain looking more like Robert Chamberlain, I determined not to watch the 1985 one starring him and Sharon Stone. As a comedy, the trailer of it looked more painful than Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I have high pain tolerance, but not that high. I would love to see the one with Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr, but that is unavailable to me at the time being so I settled for the more recent two part series starring Patrick Swayze and Alison Doody.
I mentioned I have high pain tolerance, yes. Or else I wouldn’t have stuck with this version to the end. Story was completely reduced, gutted, and stuffed. Acting was middling at best, accents fake, the landscapes dubious, the suspense killed, and the romantic chemistry: zilch. The only thing that resembled the book were the characters’ names. A new plot was entirely made up, containing villainous… Russians.
“What the hell are Russians doing here?!” shouts Quartermain.
I nearly laughed my head off. Yes, really! Even the time period was scooched from the Victorian era closer to WWI in order to create a rivalry quest between Miss Maitland, her amorous hero and the Tsar and his goons. Sort of like, a resuscitated Raiders of the Lost Ark plotline or something.
My land. They even have the mythical love of King Solomon for the Queen of Sheba being the cause for why he built the Temple. As though it were some Hebrew Taj Mahal and not the dwelling place of the Most High God.
There is very little content to be afraid of as far as language, bedroom scenes or gore. (There might have been one or two uses of ‘damn.’) For a standalone piece of entertainment, this might pacify an evening. But seriously folks, read the book. It is much more exciting! [read my book review here]