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George At 

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The Relic

For any fellow fans of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s brilliant Pendergast novels, I think you’ll agree that Private Detective/wealthy expert on all things supernatural Pendergast is one of the best literary characters of the past 20 years.

So how in the hell did filmmakers completely edit him out of the film adaption of THE RELIC back in 1997? The movie sure could have used him.

Instead, we get a miscast Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan) as Chicago Lt. Detective Vince D’Agosta pulled into a mysterious and bloody murder at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Decapitation seems to be the order of the day, more suited to a massive beast than a lone killer.

The film opens with some satisfying touches of archeology around the new arrivals for an exhibit and the bloodiest shipboard killings since Dracula made his way to his new home.

But once the film settles in at the museum, It slips quickly into very familiar territory.

The weakest link is Penelope Ann Miller (Carlito’s Way), again showing the star power of a gnat as Dr. Margo Green, an evolutionary biologist who points out that the killer is ripping off heads to get to a very specific and tasty part of the brain.

Miller and Sizemore seem to think that the more they yell at each other, the better their chemistry, but the opposite is true. Neither of them is likeable and we’re left with the always reliable Linda Hunt (Silverado) as Dr. Cuthbert, the head of the museum and only actor displaying actual human emotions at a regular dosage.

The special effects by Stan Winston Studio are decent, but the creature work is pretty stereotypical. There are few surprises in store and even less decent scares.

I spent most of the movie hoping Penelope would be eaten, leaving room for a better actor.

It took four listed screenwriters to bastardize a really enjoyable first novel from Preston & Child into a boring, predictable mess. Their biggest crime is deciding to merge the Pendergast/D’Agosta characters into one, leaving Sizemore barking profanity and denying the obvious. He makes Ernest Borgnine in “The Poseidon Adventure” seems sedated by comparison.

Director Peter Hyams has done some great films, including ‘Running Scared”, “Outland” and “2010”, but stumbles badly this time out.

Boring and predictable, THE RELIC wastes its terrific source material and thuds to earth with a D.

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