Difficult as it might seem to make a boring film about a desperate quest for survival, violent political unrest, and wild animals, the folks behind Escape from Angola accomplish just that. A lifeless sprawl of vapid scenes acted poorly and filmed indifferently, the G-rated action picture drags across 110 sluggish minutes while conveying perhaps 10 minutes of actual narrative. Stolid naturalist James Mallory (Stan Brock) operates a 20,000-acre preserve for endangered animals in Africa, aided by his wife, Karen (Anne Collings), and their three sons. The family’s biggest challenges involve pesky animals eating their food, because, of course, people living on a preserve wouldn’t think to secure their food in places animals can’t reach. One day, a neighboring rancher asks for help moving a herd of antelopes past the Angolan border because hordes of political revolutionaries are on their way. James recklessly endangers his entire family by helping move the antelopes, and this leads to the Mallorys getting stuck in hostile territory while the revolutionaries advance. Need it be reiterated that Escape from Angola is rated G? The gulf between the potentially horrific subject matter and the sort of storytelling G-rated movies can accommodate is huge, so Escape from Angola is 110 minutes of nothing. The roughest scene involves James squaring off against a lion, but the staging of the scene is timid, save for some liberally applied fake blood, and the filmmakers pause afterward so James can apologize to the animal he killed in order to survive. Although the picture has fine production values, including plentiful shots of animals crawling and prowling and running through exotic terrain, the script is anemic. Nothing much happens, some of the behavior defies credibility, and the kid-gloves approach ensures that action scenes underwhelm. Those who want an inspirational story about foreigners bonding with African animals should stick with Born Free (1966), and those looking for a similar scenario with real danger should check out the insane Tippi Hedren flick Roar (1981), during production of which actors and crew members were frequently injured by the big cats that ran wild on the set.
Escape from Angola: LAME