In between his breakout role on Lost (I know he had done a lot of things prior, including a stint on Smallville) and his triumphant return to the small screen with the hit WB show The Vampire Diaries (not that I watch), Ian Somerhalder turned to television director extraordinaire Jean de Segonzac for a cinematic turn in what I am sure they both believed would be a… ahem… high water mark in their careers that would propel them to the next level. I can't say that with a straight face. Lost City Raiders needs to be viewed as a job for a paycheck and nothing more. Plus, If I am not mistaken, Ian Somerhalder could be positioning himself to be the next Casper Van Dien, with the limited acting range and marquee idol looks.
A box quote from critic Marshall Fine of StarMagazine.com reads: "Waterworld meets Raiders of the Lost Ark." Toss in a little bit of Tomb Raider and subtract about 99% of the budget and craft and you're on the right track. The funny thing about that quote is the lack of opinion that it represents. I went and looked him up and found the one star review that spawned the quote. It can be entertaining to see how words are parsed when it comes to digging up these box quotes.
The movie is set some 40 years in the future when global warming has taken its toll on the Earth. I guess they haven't heard about the debates regarding the actual effects of said warming or even if it actually exists. This production believes in it and is convinced it will lead to our doom. In this future a large portion of the Earth's surface has been submerged and many make their living as salvage divers going down into the buildings of the past.
Lost City Raiders follows the adventures of Jack (Somerhalder) and Thomas (Jamie Thomas King of The Tudors), salvagers who follow their father John (Josh Brolin) on a quest to find an ancient scepter. Behind them is the New Vatican, set in New Rome (in this new world everything gets a "new" tag). The scepter is believed to hold the power to stop The Rising (what they call the rising waters). It's set-up that Moses used the scepter to part the Red Sea.
With their mission ahead of them they must contend with a ruthless real estate mogul (Ben Cross) who will stop at nothing to get the scepter's power for himself. His attempts to obtain the scepter includes hiring Jack's ex-girlfriend, Giovanna (Bettina Zimmerman), to aid in the hunt.
This is a poor movie all around. There was a time when a title like this would have undoubtedly been fun to watch. The material is inherently silly and if you don't recognize that, well, you may like this. Everyone involved takes a deadly serious approach. The way this plays out just makes me laugh. I can't help it, the somber attitude is just too much to handle.
I do not doubt that a fun movie could have been made with this material. The problem is that the entire production is poor. The screenplay is littered with awkward moments and does not allow the tale to develop much. We have the Catholic faction seeking the scepter for good, the bad guy doing his best to be Lex Luthor, and heroes who don't really seem to care one way or the other.
Best I can recommend is to avoid this unless you are having trouble sleeping. If you do happen to watch it and remain awake all the way through, you can marvel at how well society seems to be thriving despite the rising water levels. I guess little thought was given to authenticity as all focus is on the silly scepter.