Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Review - Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time (1991 - Dir. Sylvio Tabet)

Jeffrey Combs was off his usual form in his entry in the FA Cup of Actors, Night of the Living Dead 3D: Re-Animation (only receiving a rating of 2/10) so this round is all for the taking. Although when I saw that Marc Singers attempt at goal was Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time I was dreading another replay. I saw this when it was first released and was disappointed in it to say the least. The original Beastmaster is a bit of a classic but the sequel just dumbs everything down and plays it for cheesy laughs.

Watching it again now isn't such a bad experience. I actually quite enjoyed the late eighties/early nineties cheese factor. It is certainly more enjoyable than Combs' entry. I'm finding at the moment that I would rather watch something of this ilk than a more worthy film like 12 Years a Slave. It's no doubt a good, thought provoking film but I'm much happier watching a bloke falling forty foot and landing in the seat of an open-topped car without even bumping his coccyx.

It's got a really stupid plot too: (Jim Wynorski was involved in the writing, after all) Beasty is told early on that he has to find his lost brother before the Autumn equinox or the world will end. Cilla Black never had that kind of pressure on Surprise, Surprise. His quest involves him going through the titular portal into modern day L.A. and suffice to say, lots of fish out of water hi-jinx take place.

His modern day chum to guide him through this minefield is spoilt teenager Jackie Trent (Kari Wuhrer - who I remember from Stuart Gordon's King of the Ants, can't think why?) and initially she's every bit as annoying as you'd expect. She does come round to being slightly more likeable in the end and even gets a couple of furry little presents from our bestial buddy. Sadly she doesn't do a Tanya Roberts (or for that matter wear a costume like the one on the cover).

Every great animal loving hero needs an evil Ginsters eating villain and here it is Arklon (played by Wings Wauser of Mutant fame). He is a complete panto villain with mucho swooshing of his cape and general charging about laughing like a maniac. One of the funniest scenes involves him in a department store acquiring some new clothes from a rather camp manager. Predictably enough, it all ends in tears. In another mildly amusing scene he blasts some huge rocks with his laser (?) and they proceed to roll around crushing all and sundry under their gigantic mass of polystyrene.

Marc Singer fits back into the role of Beast Boy easily, although this time he seems to be more of a passenger. He gets to swish his sword around in trademark style but it's not given as much weight as you'd expect. It's a little bit throwaway. Even so, he's eminently watchable. And you'd have thought that being an animal lover he'd be a vegetarianialist. Well you'd be mistaken. He tucks straight into a gorgeous slice of Pek with gusto. I wonder if he can feel what the Pek feels and see what the Pek sees as it slips down into his belly.

Not content with showcasing the work of such stars as Singer, Hauser and Wuhrer, there are also appearances from Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes), Robert Z'Dar (Maniac Cop) and Sarah Douglas (Superman II) who gets the most screen time as a witchly companion to Arklon.

Don't expect this to be anywhere near as great as the original and you shouldn't come away too disgruntled. It's good enough to put Marc Singer through to the next round of the FA Cup of actors and sadly we have to say goodbye to Jeffrey Combs.

If you like this you could try:
The Beastmaster, Beastmaster: The Eye of Braxus.

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