Back in the day the Earth was ravaged by the Jinn. Freaking Genies. The Jinn used to be all obedient and stuff, granting all of our wishes, until they became self-aware and realized that obeying people is dumb and started causing a ruckus. Fortunately some brave warriors combated the Jinn, at great personal cost, and banished them forever… or for the next fifteen minutes... whichever comes first. Today's SyFy channel original, part one of a two film double feature is 'Aladdin and the Lamp of Death'! Or maybe they called it Aladdin and Death Lamp! I like Lamp of Death better. Neither title is going to help this movie.
Fast forward a few years where Aladdin (Darren Shahlavi) and his boy Luca (Noam Jenkins) are doing some sarcophagus robbing in search of riches when Aladdin finds a mysterious book… a book of eeeevillll. Or not. He was going to sell the book to scurrilous market mobster Sharira (George Ghali) but Sharira was a little too eager to buy it off of him, so he decided to chill on that for a while. His next plan is to show the book to his defacto father, Kalil (Eugene Clarke) to see what he could make of it, but before he does that he runs into his defacto sister Shifa (Kandyse McClure) where these two engage in a little repartee that doesn't seem very sibling like. We know that incest is a really bad thing but if my sister looked like Ms. McClure and recognizing that she's not my real sister… I'm just saying is all. Just so you know, Aladdin, Luca, and Shifa were all raised in an orphanage by Kalil which is why they are all so close. And while one would think that grave robbing is a bad thing, Aladdin only does this to hopefully have money to keep the orphanage open. Even though I don't think I saw one child in this movie. Lamest orphanage ever.
Back on point, Kalil sees the book and freaks out, warns Aladdin that he cannot pursue the treasure the book foretells because… well… because he shouldn't. Aladdin thinks this cat is trying to hold him back so he ignores this sage but incredibly vague warning. What Kalil and his majestic booming voice should've said was… "Aladdin, this book tells of the location of an evil soul-sucking genie in an evil lamp and if you find it you will invariably doom us all and end the Earth as we know it." Now how hard was that? If he had just said that then Aladdin and his crew wouldn't have traipsed off into the desert, found the genie lamp in its hiding place in a shallow pool of water… lamest evil lamp hiding place ever… then he wouldn't have rubbed the lamp and the weak CGI lizard genie wouldn't have popped out of the lamp sucking up souls.
Now we have a situation. This genie is alternately sucking up souls and granting wishes. It is nothing if not inconsistent, this genie, but its ultimate goal is to trick one of our four heroes, all bearing the mark of the R&B group Earth, Wind and Fire, into opening the portal to hell to release all the genies and end the world. Adventure is afoot.
We fully recognize here at the FCU that 'Aladdin and the Death Lamp' is at almost every turn a terrible movie, one saddled with stiff acting, a nonsensical storyline and special effects that looked unfinished, but let us focus on the good that 'Aladdin and the Death Lamp' brings to the table. Take Eugene Clarke's voice for instance. Every word that came out this gentleman's mouth sounded boomingly majestic and as such very important, even though I think it's just the way he talks. I can see Mr. Clarke at the drive-thru uttering 'FAITHFUL BURGER KING SERVANT… TRIPLE STACKER VALUE MEAL (dramatic pause) WITH A MR. PIBB! One day, tragically, Morgan Freeman will move on to the next world but Eugene Clarke could be his voice over understudy in waiting. Also outstanding about this movie is the small but full-bodied existence of Kandyse McClure who can lounge around on hi-def video as well anybody. We were somewhat concerned, since they had Ms. McClure dressed in oversized dirty rags throughout this entire movie, and while we abhor exploitation of the female species in these kinds of movies, we knew she had more to offer to this role. Thus we were pleased when they dusted off some of Barbara Eden's old 'I Dream of Genie' gear and allowed Kandyse to traipse around in this more appropriate coiffure towards this films welcomed conclusion. Outstanding!
Kandyse and Eugene aside, the rest of this movie does leave us a little wanting. Not for unintended humor as it has plenty of that, but just in every other aspect of cinematic entertainment. I've seen Darren Shalahvi in a number of movies and in most of those movies this well-known martial artist was kicking somebody's ass, but here the swashbuckling was kept to a minimum as the filmmakers chose to rest their film on Darren's acting ability. We're not saying that Darren is a bad actor but his strength as an actor is beating people up, not showing emotions and madly waving a sword at a monster that's not really there. There was one scene in particular that was really funny where the booming voice of Eugene Clarke told this nut, in the midst of wailing at away at the monster that wasn't really there, that hitting the genie with your sword will not work, but did he ever stop swinging? No he did not. And it never did work. We were a little excited when the Portal to Hell did eventually get opened and we just KNEW we were going to be flooded with thousands of poorly rendered lizard genies, as the prophecy foretold, but alas the budget only allowed for one lizard genie. That was pretty funny too. There was a lot funny stuff in this movie the more I think about it.
It is the scads of unintended humor that kind of make 'Aladdin and the Lamp of Death' worth watching, to be truthful. A bad movie? Oh yes. But it does possess a great collection of massive imperfections that make it a somewhat entertaining time waster.