Ty Burr
January 24, 1997 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Relic

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
performer
Penelope Ann Miller, Tom Sizemore
director
Peter Hyams

We gave it a C+

Engagingly absurd creature-feature hokum. There’s such a debt to the giant-whatsit-trashes-downtown genre of the ’50s, in fact, that sweet old James Whitmore, who early in his career faced monster ants in 1954’s Them!, now comes full circle to deal with a similarly pincered South American deity rampaging through the Chicago Museum of Natural History. The nominal stars are Penelope Ann Miller (The Shadow) as the Spunky Evolutionary Biologist and Tom Sizemore (Devil in a Blue Dress) as the Superstitious Cop; the true star is the monster itself: a computer-generated beastie that suggests a rhino with bad teeth crossed with a really big velociraptor. If you can stagger around the plot holes (how’d a Brazilian cargo ship with a dead crew get to Lake Michigan?), the last 30 minutes of The Relic are pure, dumb monster-movie fun. Normally, it’d be a film to savor at 2 a.m. on pay cable — except there you’d miss the sound of a theater packed with happy campers in full hoot.

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