?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
18 January 2013 @ 07:53 am
Movie Review: Dr. Cyclops  
Dr Cyclops splash


Dr. Cyclops
(1940)

Starring: Albert Dekker, Thomas Coley, Janice Logan, Charles Halton, Victor Kilian, Frank Yaconelli
DIR: Ernest B. Schoedsack

Blurb: A mad scientist working in the South American jungle miniaturizes his colleagues when he feels his megalomania is threatened (from IMDB).
SPOILERs within.

Dr Cyclops title


Scene 01: We open with a dramatic shadow of a lab-coated gentleman working over a microscope.

Our viewpoint quickly pans over to reveal said man himself working over a device emitting a tube of greenish-blue light.

sc_01


Commentary: The opening shot is very nicely done and atmospheric. The music is unfortunately bland. And of course, the dramatic light would in no way produce the shadow on the wall we just panned from. Swell.


He asks him how long it'll take before he admits that whatever he is trying to do is beyond his reach, which just seems rude. Presumably Doctor Cyclops informs the smug Dr. Mendoza that he won't be, because whatever he's managed to do, the subject has been kept alive. Our doctor places a disc under the microscope for his colleague's perusal.

Mendoza is amazed at Doctor Cyclops' being able to "tear it to shreds" with "radium", but still it lives [which sounds gruesomely unfortunate]. By the by, our mad scientists' actual name is Alexander Thorkel.

Doctor Mendoza has a sudden case of Inconvenient Conscience and blabs diarrhea-of-the-mouth like an entire personal history lesson of where they are, who the mad doctor is to him and what has happened in the recent history at this private lab ... things that Doctor Thorkel is already very aware of.


Commentary: Oh, dear. And, it's being delivered ham-handedly by Paul Fix. I suppose that such an information dump can't really be delivered in a brick-sized bunch like this without sounding cludding, but did he really need to look into the camera during his spiel on top of it? Oh, dear.

You do have to love the lighting scheme trying to deliver on that advertised Technicolor, though. The shot is very pretty, if nothing else.


Doctor Thorkel spiels on about mad-sciency things which make it clear he is going to continue to Tamper In Things Men Were Not Meant To Know. Mendoza is shocked, shocked that his old mentor has been a wackadoo this whole time and he never saw it coming. Doctor Mendoza actually has the (self-consciously delivered) line that Doctor Thorkel is tampering in things which must be left to God.

sc_01a

Well, Doctor Mendoza refuses to stand by and allow his lab to be used for such a great evil (again, his bombastic words) and tries to shut down his mentor's project. And quickly becomes a victim himself, as Thorkel shoves his head through the tube holding the radium stream. Exit Doctor Mendoza from his mortal coil.

sc_01b


Scene 02: We skip over to the renowned North American Research Foundation. One of our resident lecturers is speaking to the Dean about somebody taking over his classes so he can join Doctor Cyclops for whatever important research he has going on. The Dean is willing, but not very enthusiastic about this, as he worked with Thorkel at the Institute at some point in the past. It was only for a winter, but his opinion of the Doctor isn't high. He reports that he's strange, extremely secretive, and now he's been holed up for two whole years in some remote Amazonian camp.

Doctor Rupert Bulfinch greatly respects Thorkel's brilliance, however, and chooses to join him anyway for whatever he wishes his expertise for.


Scene 03: We next join Doctor Mary Robinson at a Western Union where she is composing a message. She's responding to an invitation from Dr. Bulfinch to join him on the expedition to Thorkel's.


Scene 04: Plane scene.


Scene 05: At their intermediate stop, they recruit one layabout mineralogist to replace their first choice who couldn't handle the altitude without getting sick.

Bill Stockton (no Doctor title for him) has been on an "extended vacation" and wracking up debts in whatever Central American nation we've stopped off in. Mary tells him that she's been speaking to the consulate and he'll either be working for them, or going to jail for defaulting.


Commentary: I'll give it to the film for this... they're dispensing with this 'recruitment' segment of the film quickly and efficiently.


Scene 06: We get travelogue as our scientists go from travel by car to travel by wagon to arrive in a small village in the middle of nowhere up in the  mountains.

In the village, the team is expecting mules that they rented by cable a month ago. But in the meantime, these same mules were sold to a miner who is now refusing to rent them out to the scientists. What follows is the scientists trying to present their case as to why it is urgent they get the transport, while Stockton smirks.


Commentary: This scene is painful. It's actually just an excuse to pin down Thorkel as a world-renowned molecular biologist but it's all delivered in a stilted data-dump kinda way, particularly by Halton's attempts to sound scientist-y and Coley's overacted smirk-act.


Doctor Robinson is able to get the miner to conceed, but only if he's allowed to remain with the mules which means disregarding the 'special invitation for three' only from Thorkel, but whattatheygonnado?

Our mule rangler/miner is Steve Baker.


Scene 07: Our party gets on their way again via fade with the mules, some pack mules, a few anonymous native baggagemen and a guide.


Scene 08: Some time later, a man in a canoe on the banks sleeping is awoken by his dog. He dashes into the forest as he watches Our Gang walking by through the shallow tributary.


Commentary: And the orchestral romanticism of the music is at extreme odds with this paltry, setbound "Amazon forest" we're seeing here. Also, is all of this faux travelogue really needed? Wouldn't this time be better spent with Doctor Cyclops doing wicked things in this secret lab?


Our dumpy spy is Pedro, and he rushes off to a compound with his dog. He reports in the arrival of his expected peers to Doctor Thorkel, who is working with more radium with much more care than he ever showed with the light tube. This time he has the radium behind a heavy door and is decked out in a radiation suit to boot.


Scene 09: Our Gang is greeted first by Pedro, who asks after a missing horse and then by Dr. Thorkel. He is puzzled by the arrival of a fourth in the party, which has to be explained. Cyclops remains welcoming despite the unexpected arrival of Mule Guy.

sc_09

He explains that his eyesight has gotten too bad to use the microscope, which is why he enlisted Bulfinch to build a team and travel there to assist him.


Scene 10: Doctor Thorkel introduces the first problem the scientist needs help with. Under the microscope, Sample A shows signs of deterioration - perhaps even disintegration while Stockton is also able to confirm iron particles in the organic sample.


Commentary: And the reluctant Stockton is going to be an annoying character if Coley doesn't pull back on the lazy-reluctant participant schtick. He's playing it too obviously and broadly. I hope he's shrunk and eaten first.


Apparently, whatever the scientists saw confirms for Thorkel that he is on the right track and the iron deposit in the cells under the microscope gave him the answer to what he did wrong in his process. He expresses his gratefulness and then to the utter shock of his companions bids them farewell. They had a 5 minute consult after journeying for who knows how long in the jungle, and now they're being dismissed!

Doctor Bulfinch takes exception to this. Unfortunately, his outrage seems more about his ego at being a world-renowned scientist being summoned for a task which was beneath him to begin with, rather than being over their actual effort to get there for so little interaction with the reclusive scientist.

It's also rather... dumb... for Cyclops to dismiss the team as if he might not need to confirm something more in his studies with follow up experiments.

Thorkel wishes them good-bye again and leaves them in the small courtyard looking flabbergasted [except for Mr. Smirk, who manages it around a smoking pipe].

sc_10


Scene 11: Late that night, our troop has set up camp in the forest [This was in the Amazon, right?]. Bulfinch is pacing and building a head of steam over being so summarily dismissed. He complains about this treatment to Robinson who is washing clothes in a bucket. Doctor Robinson opines that if she were him, she wouldn't set a foot off of Thorkel's compound until he's presented with an adequate explanation.

Stockton thinks they should just go, since he wasn't really into the trip in the first place, which annoys Robinson. She wants him to show a little outrage at their treatment. He's half-smirky... again... so I'm annoyed at him, too.

Robinson's real burr seems to be that they still have no idea what Thorkel is working on. Maybe she had her sights on some espionage while she was there? Okay, she probably isn't that interesting. Our mule rangler/miner comes into camp to state that he did find evidence that Thorkel is working a mine, as he figured.

Doctors Robinson and Bulfinch poo-poo that notion.


Scene 12: Later that night, Thorkel is once again in his radioactive suit and looking at radioactive-green lighting through a door.


Scene 13: Nearby, Baker hears the whining drone of the machinery at work. He slips into Dr. Cyclops' camp and using the noise of the doctor's tests to cover his movements sneaks over to the mining drill we see set up. He drops a rock and listens for how long it takes to hit the bottom. [It all takes a touch too long to cover such a simple scene. Move your ass, Steve.]

Just as Baker discovers the mine is deep, the machinery of the doctor's lab suddenly quiets, startling him. He tries to take off, but the outside lamp turns on and he has to ditch behind a barrel to keep from being spotted sneaking around. This places him in a position to see Thorkel haul something up the shaft that looks like a radiation-gizmo, rather than typical mining equipment. Doctor Cyclops adjusts a giant nut with a comically large wrench and re-lowers the mysterious device.


Commentary: There is a nice touch in that we can hear the night crickets, since the generic soundtrack dropped out. However, this scene is dull and since we already know that he's performing experiments, and since Baker can't recognize anything going on, it's also dumb. Baker is interested in his mining, the doctor isn't mining, we already guessed that & even if we didn't - it isn't an important revelation to either us or our characters. And, it's filmed in such a way as to not feel like Steve Baker is in any risk of being caught spying. So the scene isn't giving us any information we really needed, it offers no revelation to our characters and it is devoid of any tension or energy.

Thank you, movie.



Once the doctor returns inside, Steve grabs a few small rocks from around the drill site and slips away back to the scientists' camp.


Scene 14: Inside, Thorkel retrieves a sheet-covered tray. When he slips off the sheet, we see a very much alive & very much miniaturized horse.

sc_14

Commentary: What in the hell is this soundtrack? It's both generic and... just irritating... and in no way sets the scene of the revelation as to what the doctor has been working on. It keeps intruding on what is happening onscreen and is really bugging me.


Dr. Cyclops is pleased with this latest test and jots some notes as we fade out.


Scene 15: The following morning, our team investigates the rocks which Baker brought back to camp the previous evening. But more interesting at the moment is Doctor Bulfinch's discovery of pig bones... miniaturized... within the collection of stones [what now... did they super-cling to the rocks or something??]. He believes he's discovered a new species of native pygmy pig and quickly names it after himself.

Thorkel interrupts this self-aggrandizement. He wishes the scientists a good journey, to which Bulfinch responds by refusing to leave. His panties are still in a twist over the "disrespect and deceit" with which Thorkel has treated him thus far. Cyclops warns him that if he remains another hour it will be at his peril.


Scene 16: In the courtyard, Pedro hears the whinnying of a horse. Apparently, he can recognize individual horse whinnies, because he identifies it as his heretofore missing "Pinto". It sounds like it is coming from within the doctor's lab. Thorkel refuses him entry and tells him that thinking his horse is within the doctor's cabin is foolishness.

He shuts the door in his face.


Scene 17: Baker believes it sounded very much like a horse. He goes around the gapped-wood fence and sees Thorkel in his yard behind the lab. He has a butterfly net and a small cage and is calling for something. He waves the others over and they all espy the good doctor trying to call out to Pinto... by name.

He hustles something into the cage, but the group can't see what because of knee high grass in the way. They all look at one another and ponder as the doctor returns with his burden into his quarters.

Pedro wonders if it is the ghost of Pinto that he caught in the yard. The others suggest that Thorkel may be imagining things [other than the horse whinny, which was real enough] and is out catching invisible things... i.e. Doctor Thorkel has succumbed to the burden of geniuses and gone a bit mad hatter.

They interrogate Pedro who tells them that he arrived several months prior with a virtual pet shop, but most of the animals ended up in the house with Thorkel and haven't been seen since. Robinson points out this doesn't seem all that strange, since Thorkel is a biologist. Whatever experiments he's running would surely involve animal testing.

Pedro points out that whatever is happening, Santana the cat has been getting fatter by the day ... *FORESHADOWING!!!!  ---  No wait. It wasn't. Huh, weird.*

Baker decides they should pack up and leave the doctor to his crazy hijinks.


Scene 18: As the gang are doing whatever-whatever, geologist Stockton discovers by chance that the rocks collected earlier contain radium ore. He - perhaps unwisely - shares this find with Baker.


Scene 19: However, at that moment, Robinson and Bulfinch are already reaching that conclusion themselves because of damage to photo plates that Mary had too close to some of the rock samples.

They rush out and inform Baker and Stockton that they've decided to stay behind in order to care for the obviously ailing Thorkel. Baker tries briefly to convince them that they have more important things to do back home and that he and Stockton will stay behind. Bill recognizes the crap going on though, and cuts it short by telling everyone they should just stop trying to double-cross one another over the radium find.


Commentary: And, for being a radioactive rock, Bill Stockton is showing ZERO concern for slipping the stone into his pocket next to his stones... if you get what I'm preaching, and I think you do. I'm hoping he never wanted kids. In fact, everybody seems to have very little concern for those radioactive particles they're being hit with right now by holding those stones with no protective wear.

Of course, I may just be paranoid -- perhaps the amount of radiation being given off is little more than the background amount we are subjected to every moment of our lives... Any scientists care to post a comment on this?



There is some suggestion that greed is immediately going to make it hard for these four to work together without screwing one another over once the shit hits the fan.

Also -- they seem remarkably unaware that if anyone has a claim to the radium, it is Doctor Thorkel -- it is his property they're all standing on, after all. There is some quick and uncomfortable silences when Pedro wanders up.


Scene 20: Bulfinch decides that they must stop acting like a bunch of secret conspirators [Oh, man. That plot was just starting to take on a interesting shape -- don't tell me you're all not going to start backstabbing one another while you're all shrunk down --- oop, spoiler]. They hear the doctor using the winch, which is suddenly loudly squeaking for no discernable reason, since it didn't do so the night before. Baker decides they need to confront the Doctor on his find and his probable mental illness, dollars for radium dancing in their heads.

They wander up to Cyclops' cabin door and Baker pulls out a knife to jimmy the lock.


Scene 21: Meanwhile, Thorkel is making another adjustment with the comically big wrench to the mysterious device.


Scene 22: In the cabin, our group looks around and tries to ascertain the nature of Thorkel's work [or I'm just being generous -- Charles Halton is the only one who doesn't look completely lost as to what he should be doing in this scene]. Pedro looks at the dirt floor, and finds miniature hoof marks near the back door leading out into the rear yard where Thorkel went "invisible creature" hunting a short while ago.

Pedro immediately insists they are Pinto's tracks, overactingly.

More clumsy looking around, except for Stockton who is standing offscreen in a corner with nothing to do. Bulfinch finds Thorkel's notebook and sits down for a read.

Meanwhile, there is a horse whinney, which Pedro insists is Pinto again. Just after Stockton points out there aren't any horses in the room with them, Bulfinch tells the others that their crazy-colleague is claiming that he's shrunk down a horse.


Commentary: And for trying to be sneaky, these idiots are spending an inordinate amount of time standing around in the doctor's cabin. And, what the hell is taking Doctor Cyclops so long to return? And, why is it any of these peoples' business what the doctor is up to in his lab? And if they think he's gone around the bend, why aren't they returning to civilization to summon a mental health professional and some police to take the ill scientist into custody? And, why do they all think they can lay a claim to radium from Thorkel's drilling site just because they happened to pick up a few rocks that weren't theirs to take? And why is Pedro obsessed with his runaway horse being in Thorkel's lab up to now, even though the tracks would show that the horse is much too small to be his steed?

And, why won't this movie skip along to our protaganists being shrunk and menaced by that cat already?



Thorkel finally barges back in, apparently having heard their voices because he isn't surprised to see them. He calls them bandits and demands to know why they're in his house. He accuses them all of trespassing [which he does have a point -- and considering they're all after his radium ore, I'm starting to think are protagonist here is actually the crazy doctor -- probably not what the filmmakers intended].

Baker tries to schmooze that they're his friends and just want to help him, but he's onto them trying to capture his work for their own glory. He snatches his notebook from evil Bulfinch's grasp. The ruffians, Baker and Stockton, grab his arms. Thorkel plays meek when Baker suggests locking him away somewhere. He claims exhaustion in order to try to escape from his perilous circumstance with these thieves.

Yeah... I'm totally on Doctor Thorkel's side here [at least until he starts shrinking people... on the other hand, you may be able to call it self-defense... Mary Robinson looks like she may be a serial killer biologist].

He returns the notebook to Bulfinch and offers to explain the goals he is trying to accomplish, in order to gain the confidence of him so that he won't be brutally slain by the obviously violent Baker and henchman, Stockton.


Commentary: I'm sorry... have I started re-writing the entire story into a fanfic from Thorkel's point of view, or am I just telling the story that the writers were actually scripting, even though they apparently have no idea?

I'll try to return to the intended plot, but Thorkel seems to be in the right here completely.



Thorkel admits to discovering the radium deposit, and shows them how he has been routing the particles through to his lab for his work. He next leads our group to the condensor room, where the particles are concentrated for his lab work.


Scene 23: While Thorkel explains his methods and uses of the radium under their feet, Pedro is busy opening up wicker baskets. He finds Pinto, miniaturized and gives overacted shock-face.

Thorkel summons Pedro over into the condensor room. MWAA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!

Un-shockingly, he slips out himself and shuts the group, plus Pedro, in the radioactive room and turns on his "Doctor Shrinker, Doctor Shrinker, He's a madman with an evil mind!" device.


Scene 24: Sometime later, Thorkel is collecting our shrinkee's clothing. He exposits to Santana the Cat that although they're in the cellar, he won't be allowed to see them until the regain consciousness.

The Cat's growl apparently means that it is nearly time for the scientists, Baker and Pedro to wake up and Thorkel goes down into the cellar to check on them.


Commentary: It was a very clever touch to show Thorkel having taped over the cracks around the door to hold them shrinkees in place. Then they undermine the clever by having him waste time with undoing the tape where it would continue being useful.

And, I'm wondering if I should be reading some sort of especial contempt on Thorkel's part in dressing his employee Pedro in a diaper while choosing to express his respect for Bulfinch by allowing him a full tunic. Also, I will not be celebrating the male skin in this picture.



As our group looks up in fear and awe at Thorkel, Santana growls menacingly, but is shockingly well behaved by not immediately dashing forward to play 'bat the mice'.

sc_24

sc_24a

Thorkel begins speaking to his subjects as if they were willing participants in this phase of his experiments as our group cowers before the nutter. The Doctor also tells them that he knows they're first impulse will be escape and allows them to make a dash up the stairs, which of course, they can only do so at a ponderously slow speed with lots of effort, so really not having any chance of actually getting out of Dr. Cyclops' grasp.

Cleverly, this wasn't really to mock them so much as to study their muscular coordination and reflexive actions in the wake of their shrinking. Of course, he then turns his back on them, so they can hide on him. We have to spend time now watching him searching behind every object in the room looking for them.


Commentary: Which wouldn't be so bad, but the generic soundtrack has returned and is just as annoying as ever. I really wish they'd done without a soundtrack rather than use this library music.


Finally, the good doctor gives up and sits down but continues to speak to his captives. He tells them that he doesn't want to hurt them, but only wants to get a good look at them. He also reminds them that they wanted to steal his discoveries and wonders if they've so soon lost interest -- as if they're his collaborators on a project, rather than as unwilling subjects.

This draws them out, but mostly at the prompting of Dr. Bulfinch. Doctor Thorkel and he exchange dialog, which delights Dr. Cyclops as it shows that the subjects haven't lost any of their cognitive functioning with their shrinking.

Doctor Thorkel admits to not sleeping and is very tired. He takes a stimulant and continues sharing information with his "colleagues". He admits to them that they're the first subjects to have survived more than a few hours [are we forgetting Pinto is still going?]. Despite the stimulant, Dr. Cyclops dozes off allowing our gang to search for a way to escape... although one wonders where they think they're going.


Scene 25: Stacking up books and using a pencil as a pole, Baker is able to move the lever holding the door shut. Our gang makes it outdoors -- but again to what end I can't imagine.


Commentary: And, the music is still driving me buggy. I loathe the intrusive soundtrack for this movie. It's plucked strings and a few horns, kinda like caper music rather than being sinister to match the protaganists' danger.


Our gang is startled by the chickens in the yard and have to dash behind a crate. But they don't realize yet that Santana, the Cat has found a hole in the wall of the cellar where the doctor locked her up, and she's now managed to squeeze out into the yard as well.

Meanwhile, as the cat is stalking the yard, our gang manage to walk by the chickens without being mistaken for worms. Santana arrives, and our gang have to take refuge within a grove of cactus.

Santana is chased off before she can flush out our gang by the yard dog.


Scene 26: Pedro congratulates his dog, but the animal doesn't know what to do with the weird little thing that looks like Pedro in front of him. He stands shivering, confused. We waste a few minutes with Pedro trying to get his dog to recognize him and being frustrated that the dog just whines at him in backprojection.


Scene 27: It is sometime a bit later and Thorkel awakens from his nap to find the pile of books in front of the slightly ajar front door. He spots our gang in the yard, where they've been busy making new clothing, reading the doctor's books, and trying to gather up some food.

Doctor Bulfinch decides that whatever has happened, Cyclops' theories about it are completely wrong. Thorkel greets them, and they scatter back toward the cactus in the yard, but now armed with a sissors that they've taken apart to form two long swords-type weapons. Doctor Thorkel doesn't make any sinister moves to recapture them, but simply tells them how proud he is of their ingenuity. He orders them back inside, however, to continue the exams.


Scene 28: Bulfinch decides to return to the hut alone in an attempt to reason with Thorkel. As Thorkel leans out his window and asks the doctor in, Bulfinch starts making demands instead, which earns him amused laughter. Doctor Cyclops (Bulfinch nicknames him this because of Thorkel's believing that size and strength will be enough to be the victor in their contest, while Bulfinch reasons his superior intellect will find a way out of our gang's predicament).

Doctor Cyclops becomes annoyed at Bulfinch's refusal to return to the lab for more measurements. He barrels his way out into the yard, as Bulfinch hides among the detritus in the yard.


Scene 29: Thorkel goes hunting for Bulfinch with the butterfly net last used to round up Pinto. He manages to snag the recalcitrant doctor.


Commentary: This is another good effect. Bulfinch is kept mostly offscreen of course, since when he's in the next he's a doll... but they used one with legs that could kick, so there is movement to maintain the illusion of a person in the net as Thorkel carries him away.


Scene 30: Bulfinch, now on a table, is outraged. Thorkel tells him to calm himself. As the rest of the gang of shrinkees make their way back toward the lab-hut, Cyclops informs Bulfinch that he's showing signs of regrowth. Bulfinch spouts off that there will be a reckoning when he reassumes his size... Thorkel sounds like the good professor won't be alive that long.

sc_30

To Bulfinch's horror, Thorkel sops a cotton ball in ether and smothers Bulfinch. Robinson screams. Thorkel gives chase.


Scene 31: Thorkel chases the rest of our gang [to that too loud, too intrusive, too generic soundtrack] as they seek shelter again behind the corner cactus.

Frustrated at not being able to reach them, Thorkel resorts to a shovel to slash at the cactus, decimating it. As he gets through the barrier, he discovers a hole in the outer wall that our gang was able to crawl through, keeping them from being pinned to death beneath the now-giant-for-them thorns of the plant.

Thorkel shouts over the wall that they'll never last in the jungle and should come back at once. They wisely take their chances.


Scene 32: Alas for our micro-people, a thunderstorm has blown in (wait, was that lightening green?!) and is dumping heavy rain and winds on the area. After random animals startle them, they find a small cave (to them) to hide in.


Scene 33: The following morning, after scaring away a Cockatiel, they discover themselves to have made it to the small stream they'd crossed through on their way into Doctor Thorkel's compound. Nearby they find a canoe, but it is beached and too massive for them to push into the river... not to mention how they're going to get aboard. Under Doctor Robinson's suggestion, the boy make a winch and pulley system to help them move it while she builds a fire at the cave in case they have to spend another night there.


Scene 34: While the men are working on using leverage to slowly slide the canoe toward the water, in the background a black caiman approaches. Robinson saves them with another scream which allows them to dash back to their cave hideaway.

With them trapped now, our gang has to put in motion a plan to retrieve more wood for their little fire while not being gobbled up by the caiman. Robinson uses herself as bait to draw the caiman's attention on her, while the men slip by it to their woodpile (which for some reason they left out in the weather instead of stacking somewhere convenient... like in the cave).

This goes off without a hitch and they're able to build up their fire reserve a bit. They then use their makeshift tools (those scissors and a barbecue fork) to push the wood over the side and onto the caiman. This convinces it to move on.


Commentary: The effects here are 50-50. The back projection of Mary taunting the caiman to keep its interest on her is done okay... a little obvious, but for 1940, not bad at all. But, the caiman's prop for the boys standing behind it as they gather wood is clearly immobile. Also, the music is again undercutting the danger to Mary and the men throughout this sequence, being more boy/cute-animal adventure than scary unfortunately. It also didn't help that the guys were never shown as threatened, even when they were climbing back toward the cave with the caiman right next to them. It was all much too easy on them to be an effective sequence.


Scene 35: With the caiman dealt with, our gang goes back to maneuvering the canoe into the water... though they still haven't stated how their going to climb into the thing.

In the meantime, Dr. Cyclops and Pedro's dog are out scouring the jungle for the missing miniatures. The dog's barking alerts our gang and they take off to hide in the tall grass.

In order to keep the others safe, Pedro lures his dog away by taking off.


Scene 36: Doctor Cyclops arrives in the clearing where our gang made camp. As he's looking around for the dog, he sees the grass moving and draws his shotgun. But Pedro, seeing this, shouts a distraction. Thorkel points and shoots him!

Pedro staggers and falls off the rockface he was on and into the river, where his dog rushes in to retrieve him.


Commentary: I hope that this shot gun was supposed to have buckshot in it, because you'd think Pedro would be blown apart at his current size. Also, I couldn't help but notice Pedro - even before turning into a doll to fall into the water - wasn't sporting any bloody wounds from just getting shot.


Cyclops next turns his attention to the others and warns them that he knows their there. He spots their attempts to move the canoe and tells them he's proud of them, before pushing the canoe off into the river himself cutting off that means of escape.

He next stomps and kicks through the grass where Mary, Bill and Steve are still hunkered down. When that doesn't drive them out into the open, he sets the clump of grass on fire with a match. While Thorkel watches for any signs of them, they've managed to sneak out of the high grass and into his basket he brought with him (though he didn't seem particularly interested in capturing poor Pedro).


Scene 37: Sometime later, Doctor Cyclops returns home having not found the shrinkees... not knowing that he actually already has them in his custody.

The doctor putts around with some chicken leg dinner before looking through his notes. While trying to find a piece of loose paper with observations written on it, he happens to stack two heavy books on top of the container holding the micronauts, inadvertently trapping them before heading outdoors to fuss about with something or other.


Scene 38: Our gang tries to get out of their box, but finds the top held down by the books.


Scene 39: Outside, Thorkel fiddles with the focuser-doodad on the winch.


Scene 40: Inside, our gang uses their scissors-sword to cut the netting in the side of the box to allow them to crawl out.


Scene 41: Out of doors, Doctor Cyclops makes another adjustment to the focuser with the comically large wrench.


Scene 42: Inside, the micronauts escape their boxy prison. They make it off the table and to the door and prepare to run off again. Bill decides he isn't running anymore. He decides he's going to kill Thorkel somehow. Mary and Steve decide to stay to help him.


Scene 43: Outside, Thorkel re-lowers the focuser doodad.


Scene 44: Inside... somehow... our gang has maneuvered the shotgun into place so that it is ready to fire. They wait for the doctor. They've got the gun leveraged to be pointing at the doctor's bed, hoping that he'll not notice it until he lays down and they can shoot him.

sc_44


Scene 45: Outside, the doctor wraps up lowering his rig back into the mine shaft.


Scene 46: Inside, our gang hide behind some footlockers with the gun cocked and at the ready. They've tied string to the trigger and wait.


Scene 47: The doctor indeed does take off his boots for a lie down, and our gang ready to murder him. But then, Thorkel suddenly shifts and gets up instead to go to his worktable. He does a little bit of reading, and pondering, and thinking, and dozing in his chair at the table rendering the plan to shoot him moot.

Our gang consider their next move. Their new plan is to render the doctor nearly blind by stealing his spectacles, putting him at a disadvantage. Bill slips up on top of the work table, where the doctor is snoozing with his fingers on his glasses, which Bill needs to slip away with.

He's able to retrieve the spectacles, but the doctor starts to awaken. Bill throws the glasses to the floor, as Mary yells out a warning. Thorkel realizes that the shrinkees have returned to the lab as Bill makes a run across the room.

They duck behind more boxes.


Scene 48: Meanwhile, Thorkel locks the door and then taunts the micronauts that if they'd stayed hidden they would have grown to their normal size in due time. Now, of course, he intends to find and kill them before that happens.

Doctor Cyclops retrieves the shotgun, but finds that all of his spare glasses are missing from his drawer where he kept them. He tries to locate the glasses that Bill threw to the floor, but before he can find them, Steve grabs them and smashes the lenses against the table leg before ducking out of sight. Unfortunately, only one of the lenses is smashed, leaving Thorkel with one eye with acceptable vision to find them and kill them all.

He starts tearing up the place, looking behind every box, cage, and item in the room (to more of that obnoxious adventure tune).


Scene 49: As this is going on, our gang manages to get outside again through a shotgunned hole in the door. The doctor hears them though and takes off after them. [They ripped a splinter from the door for whatever reason that is stupid and contrived and he heard it.]

He takes off after them, again.


Scene 50: Doctor Cyclops chases after them and as they crawl down the mineshaft a little bit, he goes out on the beam over the shaft. He tries to use the shotgun stock as a club to bat them, but the beam cracks and breaks. He grabs the rope to keep himself from falling.

He's able to reach out for the side of the mineshaft, but has trouble climbing to safety and is holding onto the rope for dear life. Which gives an opportunity to Bill Stockton to use the scissors-sword to cut the rope the Doctor is clinging to.

sc_50


Scene 51: With a yell... even though his mouth is clearly closed... Thorkel is sent down the deep, dark mineshaft to his death.

sc_51


Scene 52: We fade to several months later. Mary, Bill and Steve have returned to the Amazon town. Steve is warning the others not to say everything that happened or they'll be alot of questions and they might lose their mineral rights to the radium.

Mary and Bill aren't paying attention, as they suddenly only have eyes for one another... naturally... *urgh*

Steve quips and we exit the movie.


The Good: I liked Albert Dekker's portrayal of Doctor Thorkel.

The technicolor was put to very good use, especially in that opening scene of Thorkel working.

I found Bulfinch's death pretty brutal, and I was surprised that Pedro was shot dead [not that he was killed, he's a minority character - but just that he was murdered so blatantly - I had him pegged as the one the cat was going to munch off-screen].

Most of the shots involving the characters and oversized props were well done and I like the heavy use of the sissors. Mostly good.


The Bad: Paul Fix as Dr. Mendoza overacted painfully in his short scene.

The soundtrack is awful. When it isn't just plain inappropriate, it's busy being grating and intrusive. It's repetitive and generic and does nothing to enhance even one scene that it is playing over... and that's most of the problem... it plays loudly over scenes instead of remaining under them out of the way.


Other Thoughts: Thomas Coley as Bill Stockton has some really uneven acting going on. Whenever he was smirky at the start and end of the picture, he was abysmal, but during the middle portion after the crap hit the fan, I liked him a lot more.

The introduction of the radium-centered greed of our pairs of characters was pointless as none of it went anywhere. I can't imagine why the plot points were bothered with in the script at all.

There are some minor problems with the actors involving the oversized props... I'm thinking specifically of Doctor Cyclops' puppety hands. The back projection remains the usual problem of looking exactly like what it is.

I don't like that we don't get any explanation for how the deaths of Doctor Bulfinch and Pedro are going to be dealt with. It seems hard to explain them away or to just ignore them if our gang are going to be returning for their mineral wealth. Also, Mary and Bill holding hands and grinning at one another in the end shot was just stupid. Their 'romance' is just as sudden as it sounds and is ridiculous, unneeded and empty. What a pointless ending!


The Score: I've been putting reviewing this one off for a while because it just didn't interest me. I'm glad to say that it wasn't nearly as bad as I had feared and I wasn't bored by it the way I thought for sure I'd be. It isn't anything electric, for certain, but it isn't a bad movie to spend some time with either.

3.25 out of 5


--end--

Next Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer's "Passion". *SIGH*. Oh, Jenny....