of Atlantis was the last of the John Dark and Kevin Connor
giant monster movies that began with The Land that Time
Forgot (though they would make one final family fantasy
tale, An Arabian Adventure) and perhaps suffers
from the same sense of fatigue that you find in the final season
of a TV series than has overstayed its welcome, or a band’s
last gasp LP. All the elements are there, but it somehow feels
a bit played out.
It’s also rather familiar, and not just because it stars
Doug McClure and a bunch of puppet monsters. It took me a while
to pin down just what it was about the film that seemed off, and
then it clicked – this is more or less a rehash of the plot
of At the Earth’s Core, with rugged McClure
accompanying an eccentric English professor in an underworld exploration,
where they are captured by a mysterious race of slaver-aliens
and McClure takes a shine to a sexy slave girl while generally
punching people and making the situation worse.
This film has McClure and Peter Gilmore submerged in a diving
bell, engaged in an underwater exploration – allegedly to
study fish, but in fact to search for the lost city of Atlantis.
After being attacked by a sea monster, they discover a huge gold
statue, which the larcenous crew decide to steal, cutting loose
the diving bell. But as the ship is attacked by a giant octopus,
all the crew and the two explorers find themselves captured and
pulled into a vast underwater cavern, where they are met by Atlantean
Michael Gothard and several helmeted and armed guards, who take
them captive in order to join them with other captive sailors
(some from the Marie Celeste, we discover) who provide slave labour.
Gilmore is singled out as intellectually superior, and is told
how the Atlanteans had originally travelled from Mars and are
shaping human history, and while then try to convince him to join
them, McClure and his shipmates have been engaging in fisticuffs
and so are locked in a dungeon, only to be freed when a giant
monster called the Zaarg attacks.
certainly breathlessly dramatic, Warlords of Atlantis
suffers in comparison with earlier films in the loose series.
Slave girl Lea Brodie is no Caroline Munro and the Atlanteans
look like Doctor Who rejects with their silly
costumes and hairstyles. There are some great monsters –
the giant octopus is really rather excellent, and the Zaarg looks
impressive, even though it hardly seems like the threat it’s
made out to be – but they are largely absent from the rather
sluggish middle act of the film, and McClure seems like he’s
getting a bit tired of battling giant puppets.
As Saturday afternoon adventure films go, Warlords of
Atlantis will still doubtless satisfy undemanding youngsters
and nostalgic adults. But it’s the most disposable entry
in the series, and it’s unsurprising that the dark-Connor
team chose to move on after this.
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