Movie Magazine International


USA - 1999

Movie Review By Erik Petersen

With an opening sequence that begins in the clouds high above the mountain tops and then drops us down, into the dense Rwandan jungle "Instinct" appears to be taking us into a strange and foreign world, but it quickly becomes all too familiar.

The film tells the story of an ape-man, Ethan Powell, a brilliant anthropologist played by Anthony Hopkins. Powell was living among the reclusive mountain gorillas when Rwandan officials discovered him. He attacked the park rangers, brutally murdering two of them. Heís been in prison for four years when the movie begins.

The film was directed by Jon Turteltaub who previously directed several major Hollywood films including "Phenomenon." Working with an incredible cast that includes Hopkins, as well as Cuba Gooding Jr. and Donald Sutherland Turteltaub had a great line-up.

So you have an interesting premise, an amazing cast and a really, really lame movie. Just how lame? It can only hope to be contrived and dull, when itís merely plodding and predictable. Which is really a shame because itís not the actors who are at fault here. Gooding Jr. as the ambitious psychiatrist Theo Caulder in particular does a great job as a social climber that learns to question his values.

Hopkins has certainly done better work but considering the material he manages a credible performance as well. Sutherland as the mentor is around only long enough to dispense his wisdom with an all-knowing grin and then disappear. In fact lightweight Maura Tierney is the only weak link.

The story is filled with cliches that keep springing up like dandelions on a summer day. The shunned but still loyal daughter, the all knowing mentor, the rundown prison with itís cruel warden and sadistic guards. You think, please this is all too much but as they say in TV land, wait there's more.

How about the motley band of prisoners Hopkins resides with? Of course they're criminally insane but despite being incarcerated for horribly violent crimes deep down inside they are really kindhearted and misunderstood. What a rip off, I half expected to see the Indian Chief appear and toss a chair through a window.

What must've looked like a good concept, attracted a big budget and marquee actors simply doesn't come together. Take my advice; don't let 'em make a monkey out of you. "Instinct" stinks. I'm Erik Petersen for Movie Magazine.

© 1999 - Erik Petersen - Air Date: 6/2/99

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