The law of diminishing returns definitely applies to THE SHRUNKEN CITY, a tiresome sci-fi yarn for kids.
"Shandar" is the name of an advanced, peace-loving metropolis under threat from reptilian space invaders called the Ood. To protect themselves, the Shandarians use the "Powerlink," an inexhaustible energy source sought by the Ood, to shrink their city down to a portable, domed orb. Thus
camouflaged, Shandar voyages throughout time and space to hide in suspended animation on Earth.
Twenty-six thousand years later, in Cochrane Hills, Pennsylvania, a construction crew unearths the city, which is discovered by inquistive teen George (Michael Malota) and his friend Lori (Agnes Bruckner). But the boy disconnects the Powerlink, and a projected image of Shandar's awakened guardian
Prime (Jules Mandel) complains that in a dozen hours or so the shrunken city will run out of energy and grow with apocalyptic force. Worse, the persistent Ood have detected Shandar and are on the way, hypnotizing everyone into seeing them as benign authority figures (surveyors, truant officers,
etc.) as George and Lori flee with the city.
Returning to the construction site, the kids find and reattach the Powerlink--but it's damaged, risking a cosmic explosion. George and Lori are both teleported by Prime into Shandar itself, where they frantically connect this thingamabob to that whatzit until the power stabilizes. The Ood, who
follow the children inside, are zapped to some faraway exile, and Shandar can return to its rightful place in the universe.
The SHRUNKEN CITY's plot boils down to a basic game of keep-away between two plucky but colorless teens and the swaggering, unhurried baddies (it may or may not matter that "Ood" was the name of a mad doctor in THE HEAD, a 1961 German cult horror flick).
A feeble sense of wonder arises from the fact that the object of contention is a miniaturized alien city. The prop looks like a roundish, rococo lava lamp, and when the viewer finally enters its interior the cramped, depopulated sets are underwhelming. Way too much screen time goes to tedious
squabbling between the juvenile heroes and the imperious, impatient Prime, who can't understand why two 14-year-olds can't muster their world's full military might against the Ood. Prime's endless kvetching seems a far more tangible menace than the mighty explosions and expansions threatened in
The special effects are rickety computer graphics, but Bucharest, Romania, where the production was filmed, does a credible impersonation of a bland Pennsylvania suburb. THE SHRUNKEN CITY came out of the prolific, straight-to-video fantasy-cheapie production company originated by (uncredited)
producer Charles Band, who relocated to Eastern Europe in the early 1990s to take advantage of cut-rate production costs. (Violence.)
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- Released: 1997
- Rating: PG
- Review: The law of diminishing returns definitely applies to THE SHRUNKEN CITY, a tiresome sci-fi yarn for kids. "Shandar" is the name of an advanced, peace-loving metropolis under threat from reptilian space invaders called the Ood. To protect themselves, the Sh… (more)