19 November 2019

Baby... Secret of the Lost Legend & My Science Project

"Personal Touch" is a feature where Charlene can talk about the Touchstone movies that Mike, and his co-host, Chad, cover in their podcast "Out of Touchstone".  Charlene is more of the silent partner in the venture (she helps produce the episodes), so she's using the HoneyNerds blog to comment on what she thought about the films discussed in each podcast episode. 

Listen to the episode of the podcast here!
Out of Touchstone: Episode 2 "Dinosaurs Galore"

Baby... Secret of the Lost Legend (1985)

This is a strange relic of a movie.  The plotting is haphazard, the characterizations are poorly developed, and the stakes are ill-conceived.  Yet, from what I have heard from people who saw this movie as children - they loved it.  I will say the practical effects of the dinosaurs were well done and I can see how that can be appealing.  I feel that this film does not hold up at all if you are not a child watching it, but there are some interesting aspects to it.

When it comes to the plot, the storytelling is very uneven.  It takes a while for the audience to even see the dinosaurs, and it's strange that when they are introduced, the scene is abrupt and the reactions of the leads (George and Susan) to seeing them is not shown.  With the main conflict (George and Susan racing against their former boss/Professor to revealing the existence of a living dinosaur) I could not understand what the outcome would be.  It becomes obvious that the Professor is more ruthless in his need to be the first to make the discovery and is seen as the villain, yet George and Susan ultimately have the same goal as the Professor.  And clearly, revealing the existence of these living dinosaurs would be harmful to them.  With the goals of the protagonist and the antagonist being the same, it was hard to understand why I should root for the protagonist at all.  That conflict is ultimately resolved to some satisfaction, with neither side getting what they wanted, but how that affects George and Susan's career is never addressed.  

The film does bring up some interesting relationship conflicts for the married couple.  Family vs. career and the expectations for Susan to become a mother cause a rift between the two.  Susan is doing research in Africa, and George is working remotely as a sports reporter so he can be with his wife.  There is some time spent on George expressing that he wants to start a family and Susan wants to focus on her career.  I would have loved to see how that is resolved, but sadly it is not.  Even with befriending the dinosaur and calling it "Baby" I would have thought there would be something addressing Susan making a decision or compromising with George but there is nothing.  

This is an adventure movie with a whimsical title that promises a romp, but it is instead a realistic, yet superficial examination of cultural differences, the perils of scientific research, and the burden of being a career-driven woman.  The scenes with the dinosaurs are somewhat cute and entertaining though!

My Science Project (1985)

This is another poorly conceived and executed film that I believe might be beloved only by people who saw it as a child.  But where Baby... Secret of the Lost Legend brought up some thought-provoking ideas and conflicts, this film is just silly.  But it had an interesting premise.  The main character Mike happens across a mystery machine while illegally searching the U.S. Government's Defense disposal depot for a potential science project.  This mystery object can create time warps and in a laughably nonsensical series of events, the machine is hooked up to the electrical grid and goes into overdrive - turning one of the school buildings into a zone of different times and eras that the plucky teenagers must navigate.  

This last set-piece of past and future encounters was the most engaging part of the movie.  Getting to that point was tedious - from the paper-thin set up for Mike's discovery of alien time-traveling technology to the unfulfilling romance between cool jock Mike and the nerdy, high school newspaper reporter Ellie.  The characters were all broadly uninteresting character tropes with no nuance and so much of the film features lazy writing.  It felt like this movie had an idea (the climax with the students encountering different time periods in one building) and it took the easiest and quickest route to get to that point.

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