You can enjoy a film whilst at the same time realising it has flaws, and is definitely not a ‘great’ film. During the 1990s, it seemed that many film studios were convinced that stuffing a cast with big-name stars was enough.
A decent story and credible plot helped, but was not necessarily a requirement.
When I read about a new film starring Anthony Hopkins, Cuba Gooding Jnr, and Donald Sutherland, my interest was piqued. I had seen all three in some memorable roles, and the casting of all of them in one film looked like a recipe for success. So I went to see ‘Instinct’, in 1999.
If you don’t know the film, it is about a man (Hopkins) who has been living in Africa, and studying gorillas. He went so far as to be accepted by the gorilla family, and when it was attacked by poachers, he killed some of the men responsible. When it turns out that the men were apparently Park Rangers, he is arrested for murder.
A psychiatrist (Gooding) becomes very interested in the case, and the strange jungle man is given his day in court.
This is a film that deals with mankind’s treatment of animals, and various issues surrounding our understanding of wildlife. It delves into the reasons behind why someone would choose to live along in a jungle, and how different the modern world is when he emerges. Or is it? Has he replaced one cruel jungle with another?
I will say no more about the film, to avoid spoilers.
And this post is about why it lost a small fortune.
I quite enjoyed it. Hopkins overplayed his role, something he is prone to do. But that didn’t spoil it for me. Some of the characters are very sympathetic, others less so. That is to be expected. If it tried to make a point about human encroachment on animal species, it succeeded. But that wasn’t exactly ‘breaking news’ in 1999.
The critics were unimpressed. Lukewarm reviews, and audiences waiting for it to turn up on DVD, or TV. This wasn’t a film that had to be seen on a big screen to get impact, and it didn’t have enough action to satisfy the mass-market. So it slipped off the viewing radar very quickly, until it found its spot at number 55 on the all-time 100 film flops, losing the backers around $70,000,000.