REVIEWS: Odd/Bizarre/Exploitation — April 6, 2012 at 7:03 am

REVIEW: Eldorado (2012)

Every now and then I come across a film that is packed with actors and actresses that I know, that are famous in their own right, but they are being put together in the worst possible movie.

A movie that has a god-awful script, non-existent story, and good actors are simply being wasted in a film that everyone is going to forget as soon as the end credits will start rolling.

“Eldorado” seemed like one of those films, for me personally. Check out the cast list in this film: Peter O’Toole, David Carradine, Brigitte Nielsen, Darryl Hannah, Michael Madsen, Bill Moseley, Patrick Bergin, Steve Guttenberg, Jeff Fahey, Oliver Tobias, and Caroline Munro.

Tom Savini is listed in the credits as well, but I somehow missed him. I guess by the time he appeared, I was already fast-forwarding the whole thing.

The film is based on one of Edgar Allan Poe’s last poems, entitled “Eldorado”. The film only partially refers to the poem, which itself was written by Poe as an expression of the California Gold Rush in 1849.

The poem describes the journey of a “gallant knight” in search of the legendary El Dorado. The knight spends much of his life on this quest. In his old age, he finally meets a “pilgrim shadow” who points the way through “the Valley of Shadow”.“Eldorado” is made up of four six-line stanzas.

Poe uses the term shadow in the middle of each stanza. The meaning of the word, however, changes with each use. First, it is a literal shadow, where the sun is blocked out. In the second, it implies gloom or despair. The third use is a ghost.

The final use, “the Valley of Shadow,” references the “Valley of the Shadow of Death,” possibly suggesting that Eldorado (or riches in general) does not exist in the living world, or may be extremely difficult to find in the physical realm. Eldorado can also interpreted not as the worldly, yellowish metal, but as treasures that actually have the possibility of existence in the abode of spirits.

These “spiritual” treasures are that of the mind: knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. In this case, Edgar Poe doubted the worthiness of humanity to possess such “mental wealth” and admitted to the inescapable worldliness of mankind.

The time of the poem’s publication, 1849, was during the California Gold Rush and was Poe’s reaction to that event. “Eldorado” was one of Poe’s last poems. As Poe scholar Scott Peeples wrote, the poem is “a fitting close to a discussion of Poe’s career.”

Like the narrator of the poem, Poe was on a quest for success or happiness and, despite spending his life searching for it, he eventually loses his strength and faces death.

In the film we have a Stranger (Darryl Hannah) who, dressed in all white, walks around citing the “Eldorado” poem, which will have an effect on the characters of the film, who head towards the mythical city of Eldorado.

In the center of the story we have a band – “The Jews brothers” (yes, an obvious nod to the Blues Brothers) who are looking for their gig.

Their crazy agent JJ (Steve Guttenberg) sends them to Eldorado for some kind of festival, and of course everything goes wrong from the beginning, setting a series of events that I had a tough time understanding.

The film is narrated by the legendary Peter O’Toole (is the man immortal? he seems to have been around forever), however as much as I admire O’Toole as an actor, his age gets the best of him, and he can barely talk, and this little fact makes his narration boring, to say the least.

As already mentioned, actors appearing in the film, have been working with each other before.* Tom Savini and Caroline Munro worked together on “Maniac” (1980).

* Daryl Hannah, Peter O’Toole and Steve Guttenberg starred together in “High Spirits” (1988).

* David Carradine, Michael Madsen and Darryl Hannah appeared together in “Kill Bill”, “Kill Bill 2”.

In my opinion, “Eldorado” failed to become a mix of a parody, musical and a tribute to the Blues Brothers. With a story that doesn’t make much sense, crazy characters and some laughable special effects (intentionally made, I assume), the film just becomes really boring after an hour or so.

Personally for me, there was not a single character that I really cared for, even though I do like nutcases in movies. With a budget of $15 000 000 (according to IMDB), this in my opinion, was an unjustified risk – gathering up so many good actors that could have been united for a much better movie, they get together for “Eldorado”, that I simply couldn’t bear.

I am almost certain that each and every one of those known names that I mentioned before, had a better film in his/her career than “Eldorado”, and there are far better Edgar Allan Poe-inspired films out there. “Eldorado” here is pretty much pointless.



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  1. I actually think the tone and 2/10 score of your review unduly flatters this movie.
    As I have already felt justified to score a couple of really bad movies 0/10 that on reflection weren’t as bad as Eldorado, I’d have no option but to resort to negative numbers and score this -2/10 .

    I feel it my duty to warn anyone with the good sense to avoid movies by the same director (Richard Driscoll) that he also goes by the name Steven Craine.

  2. Well, the almost minimum score of 2/10 was given to “Eldorado” only because of the actors. Since the film really was nothing to talk about, it was nice to see some familiar faces there.

    Speaking of avoiding Driscoll’s movies – one has to be cautious of course, yet I would not judge his work only by one film. Same happened to Uwe Boll, who keeps on making movies, some of which are actually bearable.

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