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The Ghost and the Darkness

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United States, Germany · 1996
Rated R · 1h 49m
Director Stephen Hopkins
Starring Michael Douglas, Val Kilmer, Tom Wilkinson, John Kani
Genre Adventure, Action, Thriller

Sir Robert Beaumont is behind schedule on a railroad in Africa. Enlisting noted engineer John Henry Patterson to right the ship, Beaumont expects results. Everything seems great until the crew discovers the mutilated corpse of the project's foreman, seemingly killed by a lion. After several more attacks, Patterson calls in famed hunter Charles Remington, who has finally met his match in the bloodthirsty lions.

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TV Guide Magazine by

A silly period production, built around the sorry spectacle of two smug American stars lording it over the natives... Based on true events, the film is nevertheless absolutely preposterous, and informed by stereotypes that don't play well in the 1990s.


ReelViews by James Berardinelli

For those who are interested in observing the habits of real lions and viewing genuine life-and- death struggles in Africa, I direct your attention to The Leopard Son, which is still in theatrical release. That well-constructed documentary has stronger drama, tension, and cinematography than the supposedly-real story told in The Ghost and the Darkness. True, it's missing Tom Wilkinson sneering, Michael Douglas smirking, and Val Kilmer looking bored, but no movie can boast everything.


Variety by Leonard Klady

A throwback to bygone historical adventures, The Ghost and the Darkness is a classy, high-gloss yarn with sterling production values, fine performances and breathtaking vistas. It’s a literate and eerie true-life chiller that should grab moviegoers who’ve been hungering for adult entertainment.


Entertainment Weekly by Lisa Schwarzbaum

But the very thing that drew the two actors to this ripping yarn — their enchantment with playing archetypes of male power — is the very thing that undoes their awfully big adventure.


Austin Chronicle by Marc Savlov

For all its noble intent, Hopkins' film falls flat halfway through, mired in bad philosophizing and too-beautiful killing fields, neither bark nor bite mean much here.


Chicago Tribune by Michael Wilmington

It would be a lie to suggest that there aren't some crudely effective moments in Ghost and the Darkness. After all, this is a movie where two man-eating lions pop up every 10 minutes or so, growl and drag off another fresh corpse or two. But crude effectiveness is all the movie has to offer -- and even that is a mark it doesn't always hit.


San Francisco Chronicle by Mick LaSalle

The Ghost and the Darkness could have been an effective film about the virtues of courage for its own sake. But the picture is too lightweight, too posturing and too self-important to go in an introspective direction.


Rolling Stone by Peter Travers

The script by William Goldman (Misery) is based on fact, and when the movie sticks to fact (in an unprecedented bout of man-eating, the lions took just a few months to slaughter 130 bridge builders), the result is a hypnotic spectacle. The natives fear that the lions are unkillable demons. The hunters — Douglas and Kilmer spar splendidly in their roles — aim to prove them wrong. Hopkins, unfortunately, won’t leave well enough alone.


Chicago Sun-Times by Roger Ebert

“The Ghost and the Darkness is an African adventure that makes the Tarzan movies look subtle and realistic. It lacks even the usual charm of being so bad it's funny. It's just bad. Not funny. No, wait . . . there is one funny moment.

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