*Originally written in 2004
In Colonial Africa, Col. Patterson is trying to build a large bridge for the British Railway, leading a large group of African and Indian workers. He has a strict deadline, but is known for always getting the job done. However, the attack by two lions in the area puts great fear into the workers, and over 100 are killed. Patterson comes up with several plans to catch and kill the lions so that he can continue with his work, while the locals are planning to leave believing the lions to be pure evil, calling them the ghost and the darkness according to a legend. They begin to lose confidence in Patterson because they were first attacked when he arrived. The lions seem unusually clever and vicious, and Patterson is out of his league. Enter Remington, straight out of a Haggard novel, an aging hunter who his renowned for his ability. Along with a friend Samuel, they go hunting.
The film deliberately moves at a slower pace than most films of this type, but this approach does not work. No real tension is created, and Kilmer’s Patterson always seems to have a smile on his face in spite of the death around him. For a cast of good actors, no-one particularly performs well, Kilmer is guilty of an awful accent, and Douglas is basically the same character as he played in Romancing the Stone, but without the wise-cracks. Until Douglas appears, there is little excitement, and the banter between characters, obviously trying to recall Jaws, is vastly inferior to Spielberg’s hit. However, there are a few decent moments, even if everything is immediately predictable, and at least the lions have not totally been butchered by Mr. CGI. The final hunt scenes are good, but the film should have been shorter to increase their impact.
Based on a true story with the usual changes to suit the modern audience, which hardly harm the story, The Ghost and the Darkness is worth watching if there is nothing on TV, but I would not recommend going out of your way to buy or see it.
Let us know in the comments what you think of The Ghost And The Darkness!
I watched this movie when I was a young kid and loved it… because what young boy doesn’t get a kick out of man eating lions. So it has become one of those movies that has a place in my heart.
When I was older I took a trip to Chicago and I went to the natural history museum just to see these infamous lions. Man was I let down cause they didn’t even have manes! I didn’t know that easter African Lions often didn’t grow manes! Anyways, I still like the movie.
I sure loved man eating lions – in fact one of my favourite books as a kid was called Maneaters – a collection of supposedly true stories of animal attacks on people, with a section dedicated to lions.
To be honest, I don’t remember much about the movie now, I haven’t seen it in 16 years or whenever I wrote that review, maybe i’ll revisit one day. If I’d known the lions were in Chicago I might have taken a trip to the museum last time I was over!
I will have to look for that book. Lions freak me out and it’s mainly because of their tongues. Good post! I enjoyed reading it.
Cheers, I have hundreds of these old reviews and they’re mostly not be best quality, but I keep posting them anyway.
It’s a tough book to find – by Rupert Matthews. I love all big cats, I’d be the idiot trying to give them a cuddle instead if running 🙂