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Manticore – a not so bad sci-fi experience

When it comes to my experience with proper science fiction, nothing matches my first experience with Star Wars back in the late 70’s at my local cinema. The magic of the battle ships, the funny robots, Darth Vader and all the rest – it’s hard to match these childhood memories. And Manticore doesn’t at all match these experiences, but that doesn’t mean the movie is bad.

We are in Iraq and meet American forces trying to provide stability and order to the civilians at the same time they are fighting the terrorists. The locals raid a museum and two guys are looking for a special amulet wanted by the terrorist leader Umari. The amulet is the key to free Manticore, a local mythical beast with enormous power which Umari will use in his battle against the Americans.

Once Manticore is freed - both civilians, a TV crew and a team of soldiers are facing serious trouble in the local village. They are all by themselves, have little knowledge of what they are facing, surrounded by hostile locals and with little support from their headquarters – you know the drill. Most of the people we have met dies, but the hero sgt Baxter (Robert Beltran) and the heroin corporal Keats (Heather Donahue) manage to conquer Manticore by unconventional weapons.

The movie is based on an idea that could have worked very well. The problem is the little effort put into developing a better storyline. Several scenes seem rather misplaced, we get to know the characters very little, some characters are hard to believe and the dialogue is often very predictable. The mythical Manticore could also be much more central in parts of the story and made livelier.

Despite these negative comments – I was entertained. The movie is labelled science fiction but I would rather call it fantasy. The setting in Iraq and the use of historical elements back to the ancient culture is very interesting. The current conflict as a context is also a good move. But once again, I think the story and the movie easily could be developed to something much more entertaining.

Something completely different; the ancient civilisations of Mesopotamia are full of possibilities for a movie setting with both historical and mythological dimensions. Perhaps we’ll se Indiana Jones there soon?

Hiro – not afraid of the Manticore anymore

Movie facts

Title: Manticore

Director; Tripp Reed

With Robert Beltran, Heather Donahue, Chase Masterson

Producing company; UFO International Productions

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