The Ghost And The Darkness

A surprisingly effective action-adventure (1996) set in east Africa in 1896, about a couple of man-eating lions on a rampage that claimed more than 130 victims. Val Kilmer stars as an engineer and bridge builder who joins forces with a famous big-game hunter (Michael Douglas) to catch and kill the lions, which are preventing the engineer from making his deadline. The script is by William Goldman, the direction by Stephen Hopkins, and the cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond. Part of what makes this work so well is the mythicizing of the lions, rather as the leopard was in Jacques Tourneur’s The Leopard Man. This is generally better in the broad sweep of its storytelling than in the jumble of flash cuts depicting the lion attacks, though the final action sequence makes up for a lot of the earlier clunkiness. With Brian McCardie, John Kani, Tom Wilkinson, and Emily Mortimer. (JR)

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