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The Relic could describe any number of things, infact I happen to live with a couple! In this case though we’re not talking about my geriatric parents, but instead the thriller/chiller starring Tom Sizemore and Penelope Ann Miller. I tend to avoid these films like the plague, but I’ve always liked films with Tom Sizemore, so I thought it would be worth a shot. Was it though? Read on…

I guess someone died there then....
The opening night for Chicago’s Natural History Museum is under way,  everyone’s turned up for the showbiz fundraiser…the mayor, the press….and a dodgy looking alien monster! It turns out that the aforementioned monster somehow crept in onboard a ship bound from Brazil….a ship that arrived at port with a sliced and diced crew! Legend has it that the monster will be after a LOT of food…in particular…..leaves. Eh?! Luckily, if the monster can’t get these leaves, it can compensate with parts of the human brain….oh good. Needless to say, it’s not long before people start dying…..

Leading the investigation into the murders is Lt. Vincent D'Agosta played by Tom Sizemore. He’s a pretty cautious chap and as soon as the murders begin, he immediatly considers shutting down the charity event. When strange connections begin appearing between the murders at the museum, and the murders onboard the ship from Brazil, he enlists the help of Dr. Margo Green who works at the museum. Unknown to either of them however; is the creature lying in wait in the bowels of the museum complex….

As you can tell from my brief summary of the storyline…you really can’t go in expecting anything special from this one. You won’t find a horror film much more predictable than this, and because of that you aren’t likely to get scared too frequently…if at all. At the heart of this film lies a monster……and unfortunately, it’s a pretty awful looking one! The film was made in 1997, and because of this, CGI was still in relative infancy. Because of that, the majority of the film relies heavily upon the shoulders of pupetry wizard Stan Winston. You might recognise his name from his work on Jurassic Park 1, 2 and 3. Unfortunately, this monster looks pretty pathetic, and thankfully it isn’t shown in its full extent too much. CGI comes into play later in the film, and luckily looks much more comprehensive.

Tom Sizemore is on top form as usual. I’ve never really seen him play anything other than a supporting role, so it was great to see how well he could hold the screen on his own. The supporting players are also good, Penelope Ann Miller puts in a perfectly acceptable performance given the material she has to work with, and it was nice to see James Whitmore on the screen again; you may recognise him as Brooks Hatlen from The Shawshank Redemption.

The Green Mile Part Deux??
Despite all the flaws of this film, I still rather enjoyed it. It does have a TV Film feel to it, but I think despite the dodgy script, it was pulled off ‘reasonably’ well. A couple of things that I should mention though. Firstly, the director should be given a slapping for the lighting….the film is practically pitch black throughout! I imagine this was to hide Stan Winston’s monster more than anything, but even during scenes that should be light, you find yourself struggling to see what’s going on. Secondly, this film is surprisingly graphic for a 15….if you’re one that doesn’t like seeing big chunks of human  meat (steady!)…I would avoid this one! Overall, the film is worth a look….just please don’t even try and take it seriously!

Picture wise we’re given a 2.35:1 presentation, and although adequate, the picture does contain a few flaws. Whilst watching I noticed a few cases of grain, as well as a general fuzz throughout the darker scenes. Dark scenes are unfortunately in abundance throughout this film…though that’s the fault of the director and cinematographer more than anything. Overall the transfer is certainly adequate, just don’t go expecting reference quality or anything close.

Sound is also less than stellar on the whole. We’re given a Dolby 5.1 track, and it holds its own fine during the majority of quiet scenes. However, during the action sequences the track fails to impress with a general lack of bass, and minimal use of the surrounds. Speech also seems muffled in places,  again, that is probably more the fault of the filming conditions.

"Oi....I said no tongues!"
Well this won’t take long…all that is on offer extras wise from this disc is the Theatrical Trailer. The trailer itself runs to 2minutes, and contains a number of picture artifacts. For those interested, The Relic also features English and Dutch subtitle tracks.

A pretty average film is presented on a pretty average disc. The film just about held my attention throughout, primarily due to Tom Sizemore’s performance. The special effects throughout the film are pretty poor on the whole, though it was quite enjoyable to count the number of heads that became detached during the 1hour 45minute runtime. Worth a watch, but make sure you have backup entertainment on standby!