Article #1782 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-30-2006
Posting Date: 6-29-2006
Directed by Robert Day
Featuring Ursula Andress, Peter Cushing, Bernard Cribbins
When an adventurer receives a map to a lost city from a beautiful but mysterious woman, he and two friends make the journey to Kuma, the land of Ayesha, She who must be obeyed.
If I had just seen the beginning and end of this movie, I would have considered it a fine adaptation of H. Rider Haggard’s adventure story; those parts of the movie are energetic and fun. Unfortunately, when watching the movie as a whole, you have to contend with the middle of the movie, and there is the problem. Once the journey begins, the movie is singularly dull; the journey itself is uneventful and full of cliches (do we really need to see all three adventurers throw away their empty canteens?), and things don’t really improve much when they reach Kuma, as the movie becomes mired in endless and ponderous chatter. Even Peter Cushing, as adept he is at bringing his dialogue to life, can’t quite overcome the triteness of some of his ruminations, and Ursula Andress comes across as unexpressive throughout the movie. At a hundred and six minutes, the movie could really have used some major trimming. I do like some of the changes made to the story in this version, though; in particular, the movie manages to get Ayesha into the story without resorting to the extended flashbacks of most other versions. However, the subplot about the high priest seems to exist only to give Christopher Lee a more prominent role in the proceedings. Nonetheless, this must have been an ambitious undertaking for Hammer studios.