Do yourself a favor: pick up a copy of Alien, Ridley Scott's brilliant sci-fi/horror masterpiece, instead of wasting your time on The Relic. This patent rip-off of just about every other worthy horror and/or disaster fli... more »ck certainly looks good in the packaging: a sturdy cast led by Penelope Ann Miller, Tom Sizemore, and Oscar-winner Linda Hunt; a reliable director (Peter Hyams); and a creepy enough setting--Chicago's Museum of Natural History, where an anticipated exhibition about tribal artifacts called "Superstition" is about to debut. OK. So far, so good. But some of the pieces scheduled for show have crossed customs even though the freighter that has hauled them north is found adrift and empty--its crew the victims of a mysterious creature that is soon on the rampage in the museum. The Relic relies on huge leaps of faith to engage the viewer, and finally offers nothing to elevate what could have been good fun--poking here and there at several different movie genres--to a higher level . Ultimately, the film suffers most from its own self-consciousness--it knows it's a carbon copy of better predecessors, and its awkwardness is apparent. The otherwise glossy production is so dimly lit that it's a struggle to tell what's going on, and everything in this tepid formula piece about genetic mutation gone awry is further marred by cheesy special effects. It's almost as if the movie is trying to run away from itself and hide. Try as they may, the cast is saddled with dull, wishy-washy characters who are predictably doomed or saved, depending on their place in the food chain. While the trick in any good sci-fi film is to make the monster as smart--or smarter--than its pursuers, The Relic relegates its mutated horror to less than brainy turf and the war between good and evil is never much of a war at all--just a noisy, bloody, borrowed mess. --Paula Nechak« less
William J. (billystan3) from AUBURN, NY Reviewed on 3/4/2014...
This is not your average creature feature. It is well acted and suspenseful. And it most definitely keeps you guessing and on the edge of your seat.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
A good argument for reading
audrey | white mtns | 07/06/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Workers and visitors at the NY Museum of Natural History are beginning to turn up torn to shreds, and a big exhibit opening is just days away, as the FBI, police and scientists try to figure out who, or what, is hunting people in the dark, labyrinthine corridors of the museum. I am in the camp that thinks this film is a travesty of the fine book by Preston and Child. As I was reading the book I was envisioning scenes and situations and even the monster and, upon seeing the film about a week later, was disappointed in every way but one.They had no business keeping the name of the book, since two of the four main characters are eviscerated -- FBI Special Agent Pendergast, the heart of the team, and Bill Smithback, reporter. Unbelievable. Also the monster was not as scary as the book, not even as scary as the drawing on the cover of the book, except in one scene. The movie did do a better job of having Margo battle the monster using her scientific skills, and one of the last sequences, where the creature is on fire and chasing Margo through the museum, is one of the best effects I've ever seen. It's spectacular. But there were also a lot of scenes that made me howl (with derision) whereas the book is fast, intelligent and scary as all getout. Too bad the filmmakers didn't have more respect for the book.I tried to view the film as independent from the book, wondering if I'd be afraid if I hadn't read the book first, but I honestly don't think I would. This was a real wasted opportunity. All the material was there for a wonderful scary film, and I hope someone else remakes it somewhere down the line."
Works in all the right ways.
D. Litton | Wilmington, NC | 06/30/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"So there I was, beginning to watch "The Relic," and snoring at yet another movie with a beginning sequence of a tribal ritual involving an American observer who ends up finding himself in danger. And then, two minutes later, my interest was peaked, and stayed that way for the movie's running length. "The Relic," while not being the most original monster movie ever made, is certainly a good example for other movies to follow. The story is intelligent and involving, while the suspense keeps viewers involved in a way that is almost frightening by itself. The movie begins with the aforementioned tribal sequence, then takes us to Chicago, where a mysterious unmanned shipping vessel has made its way to port. On board, Lt. Vincent D'Agosta (Tom Sizemore) finds the mangled corpses of the crew, and does what any other cop would do: puts someone else in charge of getting the details. Days later, at the Museum of Natural History, boxes from the vessel arrive and get the attention of Dr. Margo Green (Penelope Ann Miller), who finds a mysterious growth she believes to be fungus on the leaves found in the box. Her examination takes a backseat to the story's main premise, which includes lots of gore and intensity. When a cop is found brutally mutilated in the men's bathroom at the museum, the establishment is closed for investigation, much to the dismay of curator Dr. Ann Cuthbert (Linda Hunt), whose worries about an expensive gala force D'Agosta to hurry his investigation. D'Agosta also stumbles across the fact that the victims found on the ship and the cop are found with a section of the brain removed, the section responsible for hormone release. The gala goes on according to plan, but soon, things begin to go awry. The museum's security mainframe goes down, enclosing our main characters and a few party attendees inside. Whether or not the creature is responsible for this is left unexplained, as is his intelligence. But he certainly knows his way around the museum, and as the bodies begin to drop, the movie builds itself to an intense climax that has suspense leading up to it all the way. Much of that suspense is due mostly to Peter Hyams, the director of photography as well as the director of the movie, whose use of shadow and light are a key element in bringing out the fear in all of us. There's nothing scarier than what we can hear but cannot see, and Hyams uses this to his advantage by supplying little light to the movie's most intense moments. Scenes in underground tunnels are lits by flashlights alone, while the museum's basement areas are dim and murky. Not only is this a fright factor, but it gives the movie a sense of style. That fright is also kept up to speed by keeping the creature's full appearance in the dark until much later in the film. Done in live action and CGI, the monster is authentic-looking and realistic, a very convincing achievement. Not until the last half hour to we get a full revelation of the creature in its entire, and even then, the suspense still keeps coming. The movie's story is intelligent, providing an explanation for almost every action and reaction seen on camera. The plot does more than just put its characters in dangerous situations, something that most movies of this genre are famous for. It gives the characters a chance to decipher the puzzle and figure out the monster's origins, and while those facts are somewhat laughable and contrived, they are convincing from the mouths of the actors, who do a stunning job on the film. The movie also seems to poke fun at the many horror tactics used along the years, but keeps up a serious demeanor while doing so. Scenes involving key characters going into dark rooms, hearing sounds and running away, only to find their fears were in vain, give us a sense of relief but also build up a false sense of security. I practically wanted to scream at some of the actions taken by certain people, who, if they've ever seen "Alien," should know better than to do what they do. I had a lot of fun with "The Relic," a movie that has been downed for its all-too-familiar similarities to other creature features. I found it to be a very refreshing film, one with suspense and thrills galore, providing a story we can actually believe with action and suspense that works us in all the right ways."
It's a Monster Movie Folks
Archmaker | California | 05/19/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I didn't even know The Relic was a book (I have since ordered it) so when I saw this movie in release I just judged it as a Monster Movie. And at that, it came off pretty well.Although there was some strained credibility in the origin of the creature, my gosh, this is a Monster Movie. Since when did they have anything BUT a strained basis in fact? It made just enough sense to get on with the elements that make a good Monster Movie: a viscious critter doing awful things to human victims; chases; hair-breadth escapes; a slow revealing of the monster; a resourceful heroine in peril....you know, Monster Movie stuff.If you loved Ray Harryhausen's 50's monster movies (20 Million Miles to Earth, etc.) you will like this film. If you DON'T like the genre, for crying out loud don't get this film.Looking at the other reviews, I liked most of what others didn't. I liked the darkness. The tunnels lit only by flashlight and the dark recesses of something so mundane as a museum were used exceptionally well to build suspense. I liked the actors and thought they all did well with the material.I thought Hyam's did a nice job of building to the climax. AND the Critter here is a dandy. Stan Winston did just fine and the combination of full size models and CG worked well and gave the Critter unusual and credible motion. It is a gory movie done with style. There are some nasty decapitations etc., but this is, after all, a Monster Movie. If you like that stuff, you'll love this flick.Of course Alien is a better-realized film, but there is still room for another Monster Movie. This is a first-class B movie. It has every right to be judged on its merits, which are considerable. I found it engaging all the way through. I have a fondness for the genre.3-1/2 to 4 stars. Entertaining all the way. I will now get the book and see what everyone was harping about, but it won't change my opinion on how well the movie works. It may not be the book, but it works as a movie."
Classic horror film with an awesome monster! WOW!!!
Brian | Hoffman Estates, Il United States | 05/02/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Penelope Ann Miller and Tom Sizemore topline this engaging suspenser based on the best-selling novel. Filmed inside Chicago's Field Museum, the movie centers around a horrific brain-feeding beast and its curious link to a missing paleontologist who disappeared while researching a native tribe in Brazil. This monster, designed by special effects master Stan Winston, is unlike anything you're likely to see ever again. As in most other movies like this, you don't get to glimpse it right away. Its presence is more or less represented by an unsettling wheeze that will make you wonder what on earth could be making such a sound. I won't reveal anymore, other than to say it doesn't merely chase its victims down dark and murky underground tunnels--IT GALLOPS AFTER THEM! Forget what's been said about how overly dark this film was or how much of a letdown it was from the book. If, like me, you are any kind of horror fan who enjoys in-your-face monster movies, you owe it to yourself to buy this and watch it right now! Watch for an amusing cameo by Audra Lindley, better known as "Mrs. Roper" from "Three's Company.""
Hrm . . .
K. Sozaeva | Athens, GA USA | 03/10/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Well, it is always a mistake to read the book before seeing the movie. That said, I liked the movie OK taken by itself, but compared to the book it is pretty vanilla. They moved the action from New York City to Chicago for some unknown reason, and got rid of two of the best characters - Pendergast and Smithback. Also, I was repeatedly annoyed by the lighting, or lack thereof, while watching this. It seems that about half of the movie you spend straining to see what is going on in all the shadows and the other half you're rubbing your eyes because they are shining bright lights directly into the camera *ouch*
Aside from that, I liked the monster effects and I liked that they actually let us *see* the monster; so many "monster" movies never give you a good look at what is running about - I suppose because they don't want to be bothered actually creating the whole thing. But this one had a great monster, and the pacing was good as well. I wanted to smack around some of the annoying rich people, but I guess that was the point!
If you like monster movies and haven't read the book yet, watch the movie first. If you read the book first, you won't enjoy the movie as much. Once you've watched the movie - read the book, 'cause it rocks!"