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Thursday, 6 December 2018

Retro Review: King Soloman's Mines (1985)

King Soloman's Mines
Cast: Richard Chamberlain, Sharon Stone, Herbert Lom, John Rhys-Davies
Genre: Action Adventure
U.S Box Office Gross: over $15 million 

Plot: Fortune hunter Allan Quatermain teams up with a resourceful woman to help her find her missing father whilst being pursued by hostile tribes and a rival German explorer

'Say You Won't Be Mines'

1985 saw the release of The Jewel of the Nile, the follow-up sequel to Romancing The Stone of the previous year, which was a huge hit. 1984 also had Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom, the third instalment in the Indiana Jones movie series. Based on the novel by H. Rider Haggard and hot on the heels of that film's success Cannon Films, came along King Soloman's Mines with Richard Chamberlain in the main lead and pre-90s star Sharon Stone in an earlier role.

Unlike Indiana Jones, who is an archaeologist, Allan Quartermain is a fortune hunter hired by blonde bombshell, Jesse to help her find her father who disappeared. The Germany military is after the map with the King Soloman's mines.

King Solomon's Mines is not completely unwatchable; rather that even as an Indiana Jones clone the humour bits just don't work well and in watching this, its tone is similar-ish to Romancing The Stone, but unlike that film, it doesn't have charm.

Stone was pretty much a carbon copy of the annoying Willie of The Temple of Doom as the hapless and inept damsel-in-distress and thus establishing Jesse as a total bimbo and airhead, as well as the film's so-called comic relief. It's a real pity that for all the hype surrounding Sharon Stone as an actress in the 1990s, thanks to Basic Instinct, but for that film, she hasn't really blown up as a real bankable lead in Hollywood alongside then - '90s heavyweights such as Nicole Kidman, Michelle Pfieffer after the movie's success, whilst Quaterman's Chamberlain fares no better either, plus he can't carry off the leading man role and has none of Harrison Ford's rogue-ish charm. I guess, however, that Stone and Chamberlain (who was approaching 50 years of age in 1985) were both aware that King Soloman's Mines is a cheap take on Indiana Jones, and to just go along for the ride. They never shy away from playing up to the cameras; unfortunately, however, their lacklustre turns and poor material renders their onscreen chemistry as almost non-existent. The villains are also unconvincing and weak to boot. Most of the dialogue is poorly written and comes across as embarrassing to hear, and given the $11 million splashed on the special effects, at times they look 'off' as well as corny.

Produced by Cannon films, the production company were well known for churning out cheap, low budget Z/B-movies in genres such as comedy, sci-fi, adventure and horror. Here, they manage to replicate the look and feel of Indiana Jones, only it is dreary, at times campy and ham-fisted, the story doesn't entertain and the characters are not well developed. The score by Jerry Goldsmith seems to mimic John Williams's famous Indiana Jones one, but the biggest issue for me with this film is that the leads in Sharon Stone and Richard Chamberlain just aren't strong enough to make King Soloman's Mines an enjoyable and entertaining adventure-based romp.

Final Verdict:

An Indiana Jones wannabe, King Solomon's Mines is a pale imitation and almost nothing about it comes across as convincing, nor comes as close to Spielberg's biggie.


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