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Popcorn Fall

Popcorn Pictures

Reviewing the best (and worst) of horror, sci-fi and fantasy since 2000

  • Andrew Smith

Aztec Rex (2007)

"In 1518 A.D. only the noblest warriors survive"


Arriving in Mexico in 1521, Spanish explorers led by Cortés come across an Aztec tribe who worship a dinosaur as a god and offer it regular blood sacrifices to keep it at bay. After a failed attempt to enslave the tribe for his own gain, Cortés agrees to help them rid themselves off the dinosaur if they release him and his men.


Sy-Fy offers up a huge steaming pile of dinosaur poo with this pathetic monster movie that does as little as it can within the space of an hour and a half and expects you to be thankful for it when it's finished. Aztec Rex (or Tyrannosaurus Azteca as it is also known) comes from the man who brought you such classics as Leprechaun 3 and, er, Leprechaun 4: In Space so you know that his pedigree in the realms of low budget, trashy filmmaking is as corny as it gets - though oddly enough, Quentin Tarantino cites Brian Trenchard-Smith as one of his favourite directors! Aztec Rex stars a terribly-rendered CGI dinosaur, buckets of pound shop make-up and fake limbs they sell around Halloween time, and a cast who look like they'd be better off modelling in fashion shoots than pretending to be Spanish explorers or Aztec tribesmen.

Let's cut to the chase and talk about the star of the show first - the T-Rex. Even by Sy-Fy standards, this prehistoric protagonist looks to be about two hundred million years out of date. Using the same couple of frames of animation time and time again, the film does little to maintain the flimsy illusion that this monster shares the same intergalactic plane as everything else. Trees don't move. Branches aren't snapped off. There are no footprints when it walks. There are no shadows cast on it by the forests. For all intents and purposes, this is a stealth dinosaur. I have no idea where they found or created this laughable CGI aberration but it doesn't belong here. You will not be able to suspend your disbelief and buy into this for a second.

Even though the dinosaur effects are some of the worst you’re likely to see, Aztec Rex is at least gory. Characters are bitten in half, have intestines slit open, bodies are chewed up and left to rot in all of their gruesome glory and survivors are showered in blood. Yes it looks a bit tacky but it’s at least making the effort in this department. The dinosaur is well fed, much to the chagrin of numerous expendable tribesmen and some of Cortés' lesser developed crewmen who find themselves on the wrong end of a bite. The blood looks more purple in colour than red and the screen is literally engulfed with gore whenever the dinosaur decides to feast. Although there are some old school make-up effects, there are also a lot of rubbish CGI bones and entrails dripping abut which makes everything look second rate and tacky as if someone had superimposed unrelated video game footage over the top of a New World drama piece.

The script attempts to cleverly intertwine itself with historical events surrounding Cortés and the Spanish conquests but, his name aside, there’s nothing else in here that would suggest factual information. I guess the inclusion of such history was to try and raise the material above its usual type but it fails dramatically. I can tolerate the fact that the Spanish characters are played by perfectly formed English actors but the Aztecs are played by a bunch of Hawaiians who would look more at home standing outside a hotel in Honolulu and greeting people than pretending to be ancient savages. Plus there are only about twenty people in the entire film including non-speaking extras. You wonder just how often this tribe can afford to sacrifice its population given that you only ever see about six of them.

Whilst the film contains its fair share of problems, the most fundamental one is that it's just not engrossing enough. You never care for the Spanish (after all, they're just after gold). You never care for the Aztecs (they do sacrifice their own kind). And the dinosaurs, whilst garnering some pity at how lame they look, are not there for characterisation. After a dull start in which the Spanish attempt to enslave the village (the notion of six or so Spanish guys attempting to 'storm' a village which has an equally small number of people in it is just too daft to laugh at), the film then traps itself in a never-ending cycle of characters going off into the forest to try and kill the dinosaur and end up a few characters short by the end of the scene. Rinse and repeat for the rest of the film and you have a monotonous, tedious narrative which doesn't entertain or hold interest on any level whatsoever.


Final Verdict

You get what you deserve with Aztec Rex. It smacks of Sy-Fy right from the opening scene until the final credits - the cardboard characters, the bottom dollar effects, the repetitive narrative, the overly dramatic music and the deadly serious script which attempts (and fails) to make everything you're watching somehow more interesting, intelligent and higher grade. It's dinosaur dung, plain and simple. Never mind a giant dinosaur frightening off the Spanish, a copy of Aztec Rex would have been enough to make Mexico uninhabitable for millennia.


Aztec Rex

Also Known As: Tyrannosaurus Azteca

Director(s): Brian Trenchard-Smith

Writer(s): Richard Manning

Actor(s): Ian Ziering, Jack McGee, Dichen Lachman, James Locke, William Snow, Kalani Queypo, Allen Gumapac

Duration: 86 mins


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