Cheo Tyehimba
April 18, 1997 at 04:00 AM EDT

Bravely baiting viewers’ expectations with the opening voice-over remark ”Even the most impossible parts of this story really happened,” The Ghost and the Darkness tries too hard to make us believe its tale of two man-eating lions that killed more than 100 railway workers in Kenya circa 1896. Michael Douglas plays a long-haired renegade who’s all solipsistic swagger as he leads Masai warriors to hunt the beasts; Val Kilmer gets across the intensity of his bridge-building mission, but he’s hampered by his on-again, off-again Irish brogue. Ultimately, director Stephen Hopkins’ suspenseful handling of the bloodthirsty carnivores’ attacks upstages both actors. Yet while this big-budget film doesn’t stint on gnashing teeth, it finally lacks the bite of Maneaters, a modest documentary. C+

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