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observation notes: 100 Million B.C.

Another stand alone sci-fi epic from The Asylum, with slight ties to Godzilla, the Matthew Broderick version, and Cloverfield, though the latter film was still a year away, and would be later mockbusted by Monster. So then this one's neither here nor there, merely a time-traveling action flick with ties to the Philadelphia Experiment - electromagnetic tinkering undertaken by US scientists during WWII in which a wormhole through time was ripped open. 

The film opens with a Navy Search and Rescue team being briefed by a theoretical physicist (Michael Gross) and a Naval superior (Greg Evigan) on a quite unusual mission: rescue a team sent back in time in 1949 - a team that includes the physicist's brother (Christopher Atkins) - to the Cretaceous Period some 70 million years in the past. (that's the number they reference several times. i guess the title's just rounding up.) The obvious response from the (present) team is, well, if they were sent 70 million years back into the past 70 years ago, how they fuck are we even sure they're still alive? Cave paintings, that's how, recently discovered by amateur spelunkers that irrefutably come from a Twentieth Century hand, though carbon-dating says otherwise. How irrefutably? "Rita Hayworth as Gilda," and "Frank It Wasn't Your Fault." In English. Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty irrefutable.

To attempt this rescue, of course, the present team will have to undertake the same risk as the past team by traveling through the wormhole. They won't be alone however, as the physicist, racked with seventy years worth of guilt, refuses to let them go alone and insists on joining them. So back in time they go, via a stargate - not a stargate-looking thing, this is just a stargate, unapologetically - and arrive where, rather, when they wanted, smack dab in the middle of the Cretaceous Period, where they immediately begin their search for the past team.

It isn't long before acid-spooging plants, looming brontosauruses and carnivorous marine life make their going a little tougher. They get some help, improbably, when 70 fucking million years in the past, a past where none of the geography resembles that of our era, somehow the present team stumbles upon the physicist's brother and his past team within an hour or two of arriving, and just in the nick of time to get their asses saved from raptors. I studied abroad one summer in England, and over the course of the 4th of July weekend I took an impromptu trip to Amsterdam with a friend. I wasn't twenty feet outside the train station when I bumped into a girl I dated in high school. That's coincidence. When I was 16, on a cross country road trip, I walked into a mall in Salt Lake City and bumped into the man who baptized me, sitting outside the food court McDonald's. That's coincidence. Bumping into your brother who you haven't seen in 70 years because you sent him 70 million back in the past? That's fucking providence, or incredibly accurate mathematics, at least. I digress.

So reunited and somewhat safe, the mission now becomes to get everybody back to the wormhole so they can return to the present (the present team's present, but the past team's future.) It's a short trip, relatively easy but for, you know, the dinosaurs, but just when you think getting everybody home is the solution, it turns out to guessed even bigger problem. Problem 1: someone has to stay behind in the past to close the wormhole, otherwise anything could just come trouncing through, and they don't want that. Problem 2: it has to be the physicist as he's the only one who knows how, and, racked with guilt even now, he's willing to sacrifice himself to get the past team home. Problem 3: he totally fucks it up, and not only bites it (the present version of himself, that is) but allows a quite large, already-pissed and now really-discombobulated dinosaur to enter the 21st Century. And we are surprisingly unprepared for it. 

"The threat is biological in nature, it is bipedal, and it is carnivorous...I repeat, it is bipedal and's a dinosaur...I shit you not."

The above pretty much sums up the human response: humorously disbelieving, overwhelmed and clueless.The rest is spoilers but to say the third act is entirely metropolitan, and the ending is a mindbender, in terms of who's where, temporally.

100 Million B.C.was written by Asylum producer Paul Bales, who also wrote a score of other Asylum flicks including 2010 Moby Dick, Sherlock Holmes, Megafault and Killers 2, and directed by Louie Myman, which is really just a pseudonym for Griff Furst, the actor/director who's been mentioned here a few times for his work behind the camera on Lake Placid 3 and the upcoming Swamp Shark (as well as Asylum films I Am Omega and Universal Soldiers) and in front of it also in The Dunwich Horror (as well as Transmorphers and The Hitchhiker). Asylum regulars Mark Atkins and Nick Everhart edited the film, alongside David Michael Latt. Together, these men managed to craft an enjoyable, engaging sci-fi film, that if reminiscent of other films, intentionally or not, stands on it's own thanks to a spry script and strong performances.

Michael Gross ("Family Ties," the Tremors franchise) balances his performance with shades of brilliance, concern and guilt, though he's not at all believable as the age he's supposed to be (that's a compliment). It is his convictions and inner-turmoil that form the emotional center of the film and make him the most empathetic of our characters. Greg Evigan (6 Guns, Journey to the Center of the Earth) is largely contained to good-natured imperatives and salutes for the first 2/3rds of the film - though authoritatively charming as always - but in the third act his role really widens and he takes control with the ease of a seasoned wingman. But my favorite was Christopher Atkins (The Blue Lagoon, Shakma), who's essentially a younger, more awesome John Schneider (sorry, John) and here fills each scene with a  larger-than-life spirit; he plays the role as a pure adventurer - he could be a time-traveler or an astronaut, a pirate or explorer; his restrained zeal, his tempered (by peril) passion for the moment, is nothing less than infectious.

Other cast standouts include Geoff Meed as present team chief, Marie Westbrook as one of the female soldiers of the past, and Dean Kreyling as the chief of team past.

The FX are okay so long as they're not onscreen with actual people, in which case they look totally fake (a few shots are used a few times, pretty obviously). The main dino looks like some sort of zombie dino: it's hide is red with refined musculature as though it's been skinned. Gross (And not Michael). Even the Mega Shark moment - you'll know it when you kinda see it - relies more on your imagination than any actual FX. The city scenes are okay, though too deserted; as long as your CGI-ing the shit out of things, toss in some dying crowds.

Overall, it's a neat adventure story, although a little too reminiscent - for me - of Journey to the Center of the Earth but with less hot chicks (not less-hot, the women here are comparably hot, there are just fewer of them, I mean) and The Land That Time Forgot, but maybe that's a compliment, because if it had popped up that this story was based on another by the likes of Jules Verne or H.R. Haggard, I would have totally bought it. So definitely worth a watch if you enjoy films of that ilk.

One thing got me, however: where, in the Cretaceous Period, did 1940's female soldiers find form-fitting halter-tops? Another mystery for the ages, I suppose

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