Brad Silberling’s Land of the Lost, which opens Friday, is a big-screen re-creation of the mid-‘70s television series that became a cult classic on NBC despite the fact it was little more than a live-action cartoon.
The original version of Land of the Lost aired from 1974-1976 on Saturday mornings and was produced by Sid and Marty Kroft. Kroft did a short-lived remake in 1992, and all 43 episodes are now available in a special eight-disc boxed set just released last week.
The new version changes things a bit. The original followed the adventures of a family who became trapped in an alternate universe full of dinosaurs and prehistoric tribes following a freak earthquake. That cast included Spencer Milligan (the first two seasons), Wesley Eure, Kathy Coleman, Philip Paley and Ron Harper (the third and final year).
The 2009 edition stars Will Ferrell as Rick Marshall, a disgraced paleontologist. Marshall, his assistant Holly Cantrell (Anna Friel, best known for her time on the television comedy Pushing Daisies>) and tour guide Will Stanton (Danny R. McBride of Pineapple Express, Tropic Thunder and Superbad fame) aren’t family members out for a leisurely adventure. Instead, they are now members of an expedition with rival agendas. In addition, rather than lightweight father/sibling banter aimed at kids and teens, the dialog has now been changed, with male/female tension incorporated.
It was perhaps in the cards for Ferrell to have a role in Land of the Lost. In the 2001 flick Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, the name for Ferrell’s character, Marshall Willenholly, was named for the first line of the theme song for the original Land of the Lost, which names the three main characters: “Marshall, Will and Holly.”
With a whopping budget reported to be more than $100 million, the new Land of the Lost won’t depend on the cheesy, super-cheap stop animation effects that often made the television show somewhat laughable. Now there will be CGI effects employed to make such things as the portal through which the team tumbles look credible, and the various tribes, dinosaurs and other creatures really look scary rather than just silly.
However, while the original was an unintentional parody, this new version is a deliberate one. The trailer that aired during Super Bowl XLIII indicates that there will once again be plenty of innuendo, slapstick, puns and physical humor. Original cast members Wesley Eure and Kathy Coleman will have cameos, along with Today show host Matt Lauer.
Although NBC’s half-hour shows were far from artistic triumphs, the scripts did attract some top science fiction writers and contributors, among them Dorothy “D.C.” Fontana, David Gerrold, Larry Niven, Theodore Sturgeon, Ben Bova and Norman Spinrad.
Universal also moved up the release date of <i>Land of the Lost</i> from July 17 to Friday, hoping to have it do better business during a weekend otherwise devoid of action or superhero blockbusters.
Land of the Lost
Directed by: Brad Silberling
Written by: Chris Henchy, Dennis McNicholas,
Starring: Will Ferrell, Anna Friel, Danny R. McBride, Jorma Taccone, Bobb’e J. Thompson, John Boylan, Landon Ashworth