The Lost Treasure of the Grand Canyon (2008)

Nomination Year: 2015
SYNOPSIS:  We have two reviews of this movie by two different Smith-ka-teers. First, JQ:
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OK, I really have nobody to blame but myself for this one because of all the fabulous choices I decided a movie about finding an Aztec pyramid in the walls of the Grand Canyon was going to be the most ludicrous. You would think that would win on sheer awesome stupidity wouldn’t you? But then you’d be just as sad as I am now having spent 90 minutes on my life wishing I had gone for sharks, snakes or even crocodiles.

Apropos of nothing; when the Nice Ballot Bimbo was reading the titles and summaries, she misread “Urban Ghost Story” as “Orbital Ghost Story” and for a moment we were both super excited by ORBITAL HAUNTING AWESOMENESS! But then The Earl pointed out the mistake (shakes tiny fist at The Earl) and our hopes for ecto-orbital mayhem were dashed. I posted our sad, sad realization on the FaceBook page and many of you pointed out that Event Horizon fits the Orbital Ghost Story bill nicely. It does but it also has a thing where EVERYONE IS RIPPING, STABBING, OR POPPING THEIR OWN OR SOMEONE ELSE’S EYEBALLS OUT.

I do not do eyeball damage people.

Right. No eyeballs were mutilated in The Lost Treasure of the Grand Canyon, and for that I will give this movie a partial star. In a nutshell, this movie is about an archeologist with a crack crazy Aztec theory, his daughter and the two men who have taken a shine to her. Plus the other fodder who come along for the ride because George R. R. Martin did not write the script so the movie needed someone other than the principle leads to kill off.

Crazy Archeologist Dad starts out the movie riding along the “Grand Canyon” (1) with a bunch of truly cosmopolitan indian guides until they run into an equally wildly diverse tribe of hostile indians (2). The guides take off in superstitious stereotypical indian fear (nice choice there producers) while the crazy archeologist and his crew duck into a crevasse to escape the hostile Aztecs (for that’s what they are). Unfortunately, something with a serious case of Rhinorrhea starts hunting the archaeology team leaving Crazy Archeologist Dad for last.

Meanwhile, back at the dig, Crazy Archaeologist’s daughter (Shannon Doherty) is worried that her father is a month overdue from his travels to find the Aztecs of the Grand Canyon. Book Learned and awkward Jacob Thain (Michael Shanks) pshaws her concerns while handsome, hardworking and slightly bad-boyish Marco Langford (JR Bourne) throws some insults at Thain while comforting the daughter in her time of stress. Boom - Love triangle set up.

Cue prompt for mounting a rescue expedition in the form of Crazy Archaeologist's business partner showing up and assuring everyone that “Oh my yes, he is quite late indeed.” Immediately all the actors we’ve met so far but Thain head out to find Crazy Archaeology Dad. They bumble through a frontier town and then get stupid in the desert and are finally stalked by a sunglasses wearing, umbrella wielding Spooky who turns out to be Thain catching up with them after taking a shortcut. I guess if you pay for Michael Shanks you really can’t ditch him 20 minutes into the movie so he joins up with the crew.

The gang winds up in the same weird Aztec space Crazy Archaeologist Dad was in and would be trapped in there along with him (for somehow Crazy Archaeologist Dad evaded both Aztec warriors and the mysterious snot monster) but for Thain’s smarts. Apparently all his book learning makes Thain a Bad-Ass-Thinker and he leads them through all sorts of temple traps until they spill out onto the other side of the canyon wall. Or something. Whatever, it’s the home of the Aztecs and they are doing Aztec things which, most notably, involve human sacrifice to their abysmally CGIed snot god Quetzalcoatl.

Some Bad Assed Thinkery and a bit of sacrificery later and most everyone’s safe and sound...except for Martouf Marco, who dies a horribly anticlimatic death from an arrow to the chest. Really, who didn’t see that coming? Has there ever been a role in which JR Bourne hasn’t died horribly, tragically, or tragically horribly (13 Ghosts is my favorite so far because Fascinatingly EW!)

This film was not a fun Smithee film although it could have been.

(1) Although this did take place in a canyon, it had no river and was probably only ever 50 feet deep. More of a mediocre canyon, or an adequate canyon.

(2) The casting office seemed to grab anyone who didn’t check “caucasian” on their acting resume and cast them as an Aztec or Indian guide.



Next? GP:

Disclaimer: This movie contains neither lost treasure nor the Grand Canyon.

Sometime in the past an Aztec warrior paints an image of a monster killing other warriors on the wall of a cave, then runs through a (not Grand) canyon. An indeterminate time later, a bunch of prospector-looking guys fight a bunch of Native Americans in a cave. The Native Americans seem to have a slight edge until a monster shows up and eats both sides.

An indeterminate time later, a bunch of Old West scientists are conducting an archaeological dig on the rim of a (not Grand) canyon. The dig is headed by Michael Shanks and another guy who looks confusingly like Michael Shanks. Also on the dig are a frigid lady scientist and Shannen Doherty. Shannen's also a scientist, but her main interest in the dig is finding her archaeologist father, who went missing on another dig in the area a month or two ago. (Oh! The prospector-looking guys in the last scene were actually Old West scientists!) Michael and Not Michael's main interest seems to be ineptly hitting on an oblivious Shannen. Lady Scientist is there because she was Dad's assistant.

A journalist friend of Dad's shows up and confirms that he really is missing. Shannen convinces Not Michael and Lady Scientist to come with her to search for Dad. They go to town, hire some Mexican guides and horses, and go out into the desert, where the guides almost immediately take the horses and flee. They flail around in the desert some more, almost die of thirst, and get stuck in quickstand. Then Michael shows up and saves them (he got there faster by taking the train). They find a survivor of Dad's expedition, who shoots at them for no particular reason, then joins them and says the rest of the expedition scaled the wall of a nearby (not Grand) canyon and disappeared.

The (still not Grand) canyon wall appears unscalable and the scientists spend entirely too long trying to find a way up, not being acquainted with the concept of 'around'. Eventually, they find that pressing a certain part of a Native American painting of the god Quetzalcoatl opens a secret passage full of death traps. After passing through the death traps, the survivors find an exit into another (not Grand) canyon. While they're admiring it, the secret passage closes unopenably behind them.

At the other end of the (not Grand) canyon, they spot a bunch of Aztecs sacrificing a member of Dad's expedition. Shannen realizes that Dad might still be alive and leads the others into the cave behind the Aztec altar to search for them. Unfortunately, the entrance to the cave is heavily guarded. Fortunately, the guards never turn around, so it's pretty easy to sneak behind them. Unfortunately, the temple is also full of death traps. Even more unfortunately, it's also full of Quetzalcoatl.

Scientists die to traps and Quetzalcoatl. The scientists (still unfamiliar with the concept of 'around') learn that the secret passage out of the (not Grand) canyon can be opened with an artifact hidden somewhere in the caves. Dad is found. Dad sacrifices himself to save Shannen from being eaten by Quetzalcoatl. The artifact is found. Not Michael abandons the wounded to save himself and dies horribly. Everybody is captured by Aztecs. Dad turns out to not really be dead. Michael fights Quetzalcoatl in single combat and becomes the Aztec god, sacrificing himself so that the others can escape the (not Grand) canyon. They do. The end.

Smithee Award Winner!MegaMetaSmithee Award Winner! Worst Cover Copy

Lost Treasure of theGrand Canyon: Things that are on the front cover that are in this movie --Michael Shanks, Shannen Doherty, a monster that looks surprisingly like the onepictured. Things that are on the front cover that are not in this movie -- apyramid, lost treasure, the Grand Canyon. Back cover -- still no pyramid, stillno Grand Canyon, there is no "ultimate ritual of evil," and the bestthing they can find to say about the producers is that they also made Smitheewinner Sands of Oblivion. Yay?

Inane Dialogue

Lost Treasure of theGrand Canyon: "We're possibly the first humans to set foot here inhundreds of years." Yeah, right, that explains the lit torches

Actors/Directors of Note
Actor Claim to Fame
Shannen Doherty still best known for her role in Beverly Hills, 90210 
Michael Shanks "Dr. Daniel Jackson" from Stargate SG-1 
JR Bourne  
Director Claim to Fame

Jeannette Quirk & Greg Pearson

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