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Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend
Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend is a movie about William Katt and Sean Young trying to make love while a baby brontosaurus looks on. In my consideration, there's something wrong with that, and why Baby hasn't wrecked the shop on its way to bad movie super-stardom is something of a mystery to me. Maybe this slightly-better-than-adequate Kino Blu-ray will help matters.
Help me out here. What else can I possibly write that wouldn't be superfluous to that high-concept summation? Sean and William are a couple of some-sort, and they study stuff like dinosaurs, I guess, which lands them in Africa, where they've discovered primitive tribesmen getting sick from eating tainted brontosaurus meat. Is this a societal crisis? I don't know, but I was able to ascertain that Patrick (The Prisoner) McGoohan is there too, trying to get at the brontosaurus by tricking a military strongman into helping him. I think.
Whatever the case, Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend reads a little bit like Romancing the Stone crossed with Land of the Lost (the TV series, boy-o) and that's not as good as it sounds. The movie arrived in 1985, far too early to be of the significance of say, Jurassic Park and far too late to have the mysterious allure of say Valley of the Gwangi. I do recall it made a minor splash, most likely because it took the daring step to feature a dinosaur in a leading role.
And not so much just a dinosaur, but what appears to be either a silicone robot, or a malamute in costume. Either way, Baby is a not-at-all convincing thespian, and it's absolutely painful watching Young and Katt act opposite it. This might be why the movie, with its tale of not-busting-up-a-brontosaurus-family, quickly disappeared back into the jungle from whence it came. For what it's worth, both Katt and Young give Baby way more of their hearts and souls than they probably should have, which is great, because it proves they came to play. It's also bad, because it highlights the utter inconceivability and confusion inherent in the movie.
Or, maybe Baby's fault is down to a wildly uneven tone, with a Mondo Cane eye towards African Continent culture butting heads with Sit-Com antics. Katt and Young end up doing way more of a Bringing Up Baby routine than is comfortable to watch. On the other hand, there are rollicking scenes of Parent Brontosaurus trampling villagers and huts in a wild climactic chase. But do we care that Baby tanked? The ‘80s loss is our gain, as we can now sit back to helplessly choke down this terrifying mess in all its glory. If you love bad movies, this one is Recommended.
This 2.35:1 1080p transfer presents Baby in a way it's never been seen before! Which is to say it has been seen before on Blu-ray, but everything I've read (I haven't seen the earlier editions) indicates that this transfer looks much better than others. Film grain is evident but looks natural, detail levels in the foreground are pretty great, and decay as would be expected as you wander back into the depth-of-field. There aren't a ton of compression artifacts, or other transfer problems, and colors look very natural. While there are plenty of better-looking ‘80s movie Blu-rays around, for this film's station, it looks much better than it should.
5.1 Surround Sound and 2.0 Audio are both throaty and clean, with wide dynamic range, and faithful, clean reproduction of dialog. When Jerry Goldsmith's score kicks in, it's mixed well, and is nicely enveloping.
Extras are slight, limited to English Subtitles and two interviews. First up is a 13-minute Interview with star William Katt who seems mostly realistic about the place this movie holds, while doling out some helpful BTS details, along with at least one disgusting BTS detail. A 10-minute Interview with director Bill Norton is equally frank and intimate, meaning that Norton also realizes the movie is something of a dud (especially the special effects), but still loves it as one of his cinematic children.
Who knows why Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend isn't more revered in bad movie circles? Starring William (The Greatest American Hero) Katt and Sean Young as a couple of do-gooders hoping to save a baby brontosaurus from the evils of the world, Baby revels in crappy animatronic special effects, a wildly uneven tone, and the awful sight of Katt and Young trying to pitch woo while avoiding the prying eyes of a cute widdle baby brontosaurus. OMFG, this cross between Romancing the Stone and Land of the Lost is baffling enough to be Recommended.
- Kurt Dahlke