Famed American adventurer Doc Savage, played by Ron Ely (TV’s Tarzan), and his team travel to South America to investigate the mysterious death of Doc’s father.
Reaction & Thoughts:
“Have no fear! Doc Savage is here!”
This is an adaptation of the 1930s pulp hero created by Henry W. Ralston and John L. Nanovic. Comic-book legend Stan Lee (Spider-Man, The Hulk, Doctor Strange, etc.) has publicly acknowledged Doc Savage as one of his main influences. It’s also obvious that the character is one of the main inspirations behind the Indiana Jones movies.
Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze is a superhero movie in the vein of Walt Disney’s goofy Condorman. The film also has elements of both Warren Beatty’s tongue-in-cheek Dick Tracy and Roger Vadim’s zippy cult classic Barbarella. Unfortunately, Doc Savage just doesn’t really work — it’s disjointed and silly.
It pains me to say this, but Doc Savage is a total fiasco. And this is coming from someone who tends to enjoy campy adventures. I was rooting for the movie, but there is hardly anything to recommend here. It’s cheesy and boring when it should have been fanciful and entertaining. The plethora of bad jokes literally made me cringe.
Produced by filmmaker George Pal (this is his last production), Doc Savage also looks dirt-cheap and dated. Sets and costumes are below average. The visual effects, producer Pal’s specialty, don’t meet the higher standards set by Pal’s The War of the Worlds, Tom Thumb, The Time Machine and 7 Faces of Dr. Lao.
The tall and husky Ron Ely looks the part, but he has trouble getting into the silly mood of the movie. It’s hard to know if Ely lacks good comic timing or if he is simply unable to overcome Pal’s and Joe Morheim’s terribly unfunny script, and/or Michael Anderson’s (Around the World in 80 Days) laden direction. The cast also includes Paul Gleason Fort (Apache the Bronx) and Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes).
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
A film like Mike Hodges’s Flash Gordon is a much better example of what this movie was trying to do. Doc Savage fails miserably in all important areas. Talks about a remake have persisted over the years. Last time I checked, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson had been tapped to star in a remake — Doc Savage is a great character who deserves another try. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Color, 112 minutes, Rated G.