King Solomon's Mines (1985)

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Released 8-Jun-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Theatrical Trailer
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1985
Running Time 95:52
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (49:50) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By J. Lee Thompson
Studio
Distributor

MGM
Starring Richard Chamberlain
Sharon Stone
Herbert Lom
John Rhys-Davies
Ken Gampu
June Buthelezi
Sam Williams
Shaike Ophir
Mick Lesley
Vincent Van der Byl
Bob Greer
Oliver Tengende
Neville Thomas
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Jerry Goldsmith


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
French
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Swedish
Finnish
Norwegian
Danish
Greek
Romanian
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Jesse Huston (Sharon Stone) is on a quest to find her lost father, and she's enlisted the help of the legendary Allan Quatermain (Richard Chamberlain) in her search. But the road to discovering the fate of her father won't be an easy one, as he was close to finding the lost mines of King Solomon, and with a wealth of treasure awaiting the person who finds the long lost mines, there is more than one party interested in Allan Quatermain's leads to Jesse's father. Hot on the pair's trail is German officer Colonel Bockner and his Turkish accomplice Dogati (John Rhys-Davies). While the clues lead to the discovery of Jesse's father's whereabouts, the pair have to stay one step ahead of their German foes who seek the wealth of Solomon's mines to fund their own evil ends. At first, Quatermain is somewhat irritated at his employer, but as the pair continue on their search, they begin to find themselves attracted to each other. But will their growing love for each other be enough to save them from the cannibal tribes, the German army, the deadly animals and the incredible fate that awaits them at King Solomon's Mines?

    Oh. My. God. This is not just bad cinema, it's really, really bad. Well and truly in the realm of 'so bad, it's good'. First up, if you don't know about this series, then here's the low-down: This is a very, very poor cash-in (and a belated one at that) on the Indiana Jones films. Some would call this film (and its follow-up Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold) a poor man's Indiana Jones. This would be giving it too much credit. This film is not a poor man's Indiana Jones, it's a bankrupt man's Indiana Jones. This is an indentured servant's Indiana Jones. All the ideas and set pieces are there to make this film like something in the Indiana Jones series, but it's the terrible acting, the bad script, the poor special effects, the cheap sets, the stupid dialogue and the uneven pacing that make this film what it is...garbage.

    This film was based on the novel written by H. Rider Haggard of the same name. Conceiving the character of Allan Quatermain in 1887, the actioneer's exploits would be made into films from the 1937 film King Solomon's Mines starring Paul Robeson and Cedric Hardwicke to the 2003 big budget blockbuster The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. If you only know the character of Allan Quatermain from LXG, then watching this will really get your attention. Richard Chamberlain is a very good actor, but not here. For a supposedly English character, Richard Chamberlain plays a very good American. This is the first major flaw in this film (and there are a great many), in that the original character is not portrayed in proper fashion. I'd have expected Richard in a similar role, but not as Allan Quatermain. The whole thing just doesn't wash and Chamberlain seems uneasy in the role. This would be understandable as anyone who would have read the script for this turkey would have to be aware at just how painfully bad it really is. As I said, Chamberlain can act, but here I can only assume that he had a house he wanted to buy and this film came along at the right time. Sharon Stone is in the same boat. She's another one that despite her looks can really act. She's starred in films from Woody Allen's Stardust Memories to Total Recall to Basic Instinct. She's done much better than we see her here and the role of Jesse probably isn't one that she lists on her resume. She struggles as to whether she wants to be the strong type or the typical damsel in distress and spends the whole film wavering between the two. Of course, the whole idea was to have the characters be like Indy and Marion in Raiders, but the film fails to establish the history and chemistry between the two and instead we have a film that looks to have a list of ingredients that have not been been put together very well. When you have the two leads looking at each other (especially Chamberlain) waiting for the other to finish their lines so that they can deliver their own then you know that you're seeing acting and filmmaking done by the numbers. Here the numbers range from 1 to 2. Very simple. Too simple, and it's the viewer that is the real loser.

    The funny thing about this film in contrast to Raiders of the Lost Ark is that this film was shot for around 65% in budgetary terms of the cost of Raiders. US$20,000,000 for Raiders vs. US$12,500,000 for King Solomon's Mines. From watching this film, I would have picked the budget difference to be much greater. This film looks cheap, shoddy and half-baked. I could only recommend this film for its 'so bad, it's good' value. There are some truly cringeworthy moments here, from the over-the-top racial insults and comments to the spontaneous and unbelievable romance between Allan and Jesse. This is really a terrible film, and you should do yourself a favour and watch it as soon as possible. Trust me. You'll find an immense satisfaction in your future choices of cinema from now on once you've seen just how bad it can get. Look no further, 'cuz here it is...and it ain't pretty.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    We get a serviceable transfer here that portrays the film in about as good a light as we are likely to get, probably ever.

    This film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The level of sharpness here ranges from fair to terrible during the programme. Whilst for the majority of the feature the picture is watchable, we do have some serious focus issues from time to time. The most notable example is to be found at 92:40 where the image gets so fuzzy that I had to check again just to make sure I wasn't seeing things. I wasn't. It was really that bad. The really bad thing is that because of the importance (read lack of) of this title, this is probably as good as we'll ever get. Shadow detail is fair, but not as good as you might want. Again, without any restoration (as if the title would warrant it) this is as good as you'll get. Low level noise wasn't a problem.

    Colour's use during the feature is of a fairly natural type. It has that typical 80s faded look that could be due to the print's age or the film stock used. Rank Film Laboratories has the honour of doing the colour on this title. Colour's transfer to disc is reasonable, considering what was on offer in terms of a master print.

    This film was transferred to DVD with an average and steady bitrate of about 8.93 Mb/s. This is more than enough for this film and is enough to enable this reviewer to pick the flaws in the print used to produce the DVD. Edge enhancement remains untamed and roams the disc freely with a while outline visible throughout. There is some noticeable grain that the viewer will notice during the entire film, but I expected this so it came as no surprise. The print is fairly clean, although there are noticeable nicks and flecks visible throughout the feature.

    There are a swag of subtitles available here with the English option accurate enough to service the film in a reasonable manner without being word-for-word.

    This disc is formatted RSDL with the layer change taking place at 49:50 during Chapter 11. It is a mostly unnoticeable change that doesn't disrupt the flow of the film.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio presentation here is reasonable and serves the material well.

    There are four audio options here, these being English, German, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 offerings, all running at a basic 192Kb/s. This is more than adequate enough to convey the soundtrack of this film.

    Dialogue quality here is adequate, but it does suffer from some flaws. There are some echo problems from time to time, such as that heard at 52:38. Also, obvious ADR is a problem from time to time, and this can be seen (heard) at 10:40 and 17:55. Audio sync was reasonable and I had no major issues with it.

    Music for this film comes from prolific film scorer Jerry Goldsmith. When Jerry gets it right, he really nails it. His soundtracks for Alien and Star Trek: The Motion Picture are amongst my favourites and some of the best film scoring ever. Here, as with the rest of the film, it's by the numbers. "Just make it sound like Raiders and it'll be right". And that's what the soundtrack sounds like, a copy of John Williams' score for Raiders of the Lost Ark. Not one of Jerry's better scores, but it does serve the film well.
 
    This is a very basic Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack here, so you won't hear any auditory gymnastics from this audio transfer. What we have here is simple and probably very similar to what would have been heard in the cinema during its theatrical run. If your surround processor can do something with this soundtrack, then great. All mine could do is provide some very simple atmospheric surround ambience. The LFE channel had little to do here.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The pickin's are slim here, folks. Don't expect too much.

Menu

    After the Language Select menu, we are taken to the disc's Main Menu which offers us the following:     The menus are silent, static and 16x9 enhanced.

Original Theatrical Trailer   -   2:07

    Even selective editing can't make this film look any good. As much as the distributors would want the potential audience to think that this was the next Indiana Jones, any astute fan of cinema would have seen right past this trailer and known it for the turkey that it was destined to be. It hits all the right buttons, it just doesn't do it very well. Presented in 2.35:1 without 16x9 enhancement. Audio is in English Dolby Digital 2.0.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This film was released in Region 1 on February 10th, 2004 in a very similar package to what we have here, save for the fact that we in Region 4 (and Region 2) get a 16x9 enhanced transfer.

     The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:

     Other than language options and the lack of 16x9 enhancement on the Region 1 disc, the package is nearly the same between regions. The Region 2 offerings look to be exactly the same as we have here as our disc is coded for both Region 4 as well as Region 2. I'd pick our version as it represents the better version on offer with local affordability and availability along with a PAL transfer.

Summary

     This is not good cinema. It is bad cinema. It is important that you realize this if you should choose to view this film, and it's only in this light that you could possibly be able to enjoy it. This is one that you would probably want to watch with a group of friends while having a few refreshing amber drinks. You need to laugh at this one. Believe me, it deserves to be laughed at. Terrible.

     The video is watchable, and presents the film in its original aspect ratio with 16x9 enhancement.

     The audio is okay but not terribly dynamic.

     There is only a theatrical trailer as an extra.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
Saturday, June 12, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD RP-82 with DVD-Audio on board, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko TRW 325 / 32 SFT 10 76cm (32") 16x9. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderYamaha RX-V2300 Dolby Digital and dts. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationYamaha RX-V2300 110w X 6 connected via optical cable and shielded RCA (gold plated) connects for DVD-Audio
SpeakersVAF DC-X Fronts (bi-wired), VAF DC-6 Center, VAF DC-2 Rears, VAF LFE-07 Sub (Dual Amp. 80w x 2)

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Comments (Add)
Jerry Goldsmith - Typo? - Downtown REPLY POSTED
R1 NOT anamorphic - REPLY POSTED