Riddles Of The Sphinx

Rating impossible

Directed by George Mendeluk

Written by Brooke Durham and Jacob Eskander

Starring Lochlyn Munro, Dina Meyer, Emily Tennant, Mackenzie Gray and Donnelly Rhodes

A cryptographer unwittingly unleashes the Sphinx, a creature from Egyptian mythology, which then kills him. It is left to his estranged son Robert (Lochlyn Munro), the granddaughter he never met, Karen (Emily Tennant), and his son’s former lover, Jessica (Dina Meyer), to avert an apocalyptic plague by solving a series of riddles, while passing through portals found on the sites of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World into sacred chambers existing in parallel dimensions.

This film was made for broadcast on the Sci-Fi Channel. Lochlyn Munro plays a kind of bargain bin version of Indiana Jones and Dina Meyer is, as one fan review I read put it, “Laura Croft’s hot aunt.” It is a mix of ‘The Mummy’, ‘Stargate’ and ‘Indiana Jones’, seemingly made on a budget that probably would not buy a sandwich from the location caterers of one of those films. I have no idea what the production budget was, but it is tempting to surmise that they still had change left over from a ten-dollar bill once the shoot was completed.

This is the most hilariously bad film I have seen in a very long time, although that is not to say it was not enjoyable in its own preposterous way. It is not exactly so bad it’s good – more like, so bad it has to be seen to be believed.

The special effects, provided by the same company responsible for the new big-budget FOX network show ‘Fringe’, are minimal in the extreme. Clearly, the budget did not stretch far enough to allow for proper effects to be added. When various characters are battling the Sphinx, the creature is usually out of the shot, leaving the actor to fight nothing. Our heroes fly across the globe in a small jet airplane, which appears to carry enough fuel to fly any distance, no matter how far, but they never seem to actually land or take off, and each location bears no resemblance to the real thing. Olympia in Greece is a wet and wintry place (somewhat akin to the region of British Columbia where it was filmed, in fact) and the Giza Plateau turns out to be some kind of disused quarry!

The riddles are simplistic beyond belief and the supposedly deadly traps set in the various chambers they visit are so easily thwarted that they really should have been blindfolded at the time, just to even things up a bit. Although Robert is supposed to be, like his father before him, a genius with considerable knowledge of the ancient world, it seems to be his teenage daughter who makes several of the deductions required to continue the journey, apparently by using what appears to be a portable games console.

It is tempting to wonder what Dina Meyer did wrong for her career to have come to this, but in fact these kinds of films seem to be her stock in trade. Lochlyn Munro, like Meyer, might also be wondering what he ever did to deserve such a fate, although I cannot help but think of him as a kind of new Doug McClure. Emily Tennant was young Daphne in ‘Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed’ and had small roles in ‘I Robot’, ‘Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants’ and ‘Juno’.

‘Riddles of the Sphinx’ is laughably silly, but it is fun. I generally like films with this kind of theme and this one stars Dina Meyer, which is a plus. It is rubbish, but I am sure I could happily watch it again sometime.

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