Theodore Rex Review
Where's a giant asteroid when you really need one?
Some films are so bad that words just fail us but we’ll try…Theodore Rex is a concept so ridiculous that you simply wish you had been at the pitch meeting. One can only assume that the poor drug-addled fools who created this monstrosity were surrounded by piles of cocaine that would make Tony Montana green with envy. As great a film as Jurassic Park is you almost wish it had never been made, so its success wouldn't have spawned this dreadful creation. You know things are off to a bad start when the film requires an opening crawl and voice-over (presumably for those that can’t read) just to explain its entire plot - and we use that word loosely - but here goes.
In the future most animals are extinct and a billionaire named Elizar Kane has been recreating them using genetic cloning. Among the animals brought back from extinction are dinosaurs, although why they walk upright and talk is anyone’s guess. Kane has a plan to wipeout all life on earth by generating a new ice age and then repopulating the planet with his own creations. A dinosaur is killed before it can spill the beans on this nefarious plan and so tough cop Katie Coltrane (Whoopi Goldberg) is teamed up with a T-Rex (voiced by George Newbern) to investigate the 'dinocide' - this is as good as the jokes get.
It’s difficult to really know where to begin when it comes to criticising this film because it fails on every possible level. It isn’t remotely funny so you couldn’t call it a comedy and it isn’t exciting, so calling it a thriller is out. The sci-fi elements are simply ludicrous but that’s largely irrelevant since even for the mid-nineties the visual effects are utterly appalling. Everything about this film is lazy, unimaginative and cliched; while the writing is terrible, the direction inept and the performances atrocious.
Which brings us to the cast. Whoopi Goldberg was famously forced to appear in the film after reneging on a verbal agreement, so we really can’t blame her for looking like she’d rather be anywhere else. In fact she tried to leave the production a number of times during filming but at least the $7 million pay cheque must have eased the pain. The filmmakers presumably decided to punish Goldberg for her actions; it’s the only explanation for some of the things she’s made to do during the course of the film. In fact the only real pleasure to be derived from this awful movie is watching Whoopi Goldberg’s discomfort in every scene in which she’s forced to appear.
Goldberg received a Golden Raspberry nomination for worst performance; which she doesn’t so much phone in, as send attached to the leg of a carrier pigeon. It was a bad year for the actress, she also received two other Razzie nominations (for Bogus and Eddie) and one can only assume she sacked her agent soon after. In fairness to Goldberg there isn’t much she can do with a script this bad and she also has to contend with a terrible police uniform that actually restricts her physical movement. If the rest of the film wasn’t bad enough, nothing can prepare you for the horror of Whoopi Goldberg in a skintight outfit!
The main thing to end up extinct as a result of this dino-turkey was Whoopi Goldberg's film career.
Still at least she didn’t have to wear a dinosaur suit. Apparently the majority of the cast signed on thinking that the dinosaurs would be created with computer generated effects. Instead the filmmakers used a series of suits and animatronic heads that look so bad a five year old would roll their eyes in disgust. Although the dinosuits actually look quite high tech compared to the rest of the film, which is filled with awful costumes, dreadful physical effects and cheap production design. Aside from Goldberg’s fee, God knows where the rest of the $35 million budget went because it certainly isn’t on the screen.
During production crew members were constantly leaving the film until, according to Goldberg, 99% of those present on the first day of shooting were gone by the last. The studio had planned to release the film to tie-in with Goldberg presenting the Oscars that year but disastrous test screenings quickly changed their minds. The film was ultimately released on home video, making it the most expensive direct-to-video production ever at the time. Since we're listing dubious records, it's also the only direct-to-video release to ever be nominated for a Razzie.
The main thing to end up extinct as a result of this dino-turkey was Whoopi Goldberg's career; although frankly she got off lightly as writer/director Jonathan R. Betuel never worked again. His claims that the studio didn't market the film correctly seem a bit desperate but you keep telling yourself that Jonathan. Perhaps the biggest loser was executive producer Stefano Ferrari who invested $14 million of his family's pharmaceutical fortune into this, his first major feature film. Not only did he lose all that money but he also had to defend himself against five law suits in the wake of Theodore Rex's release. The film ends with a title card that says “See Ya”. Well not if we see this rubbish coming first!
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