“Based on a true story” can mean a lot of things and in the case of “The Ghost and the Darkness,” it means an exaggerated account of a real event. When you see this film, you are not seeing truth unfold before your eyes but you do have the opportunity to appreciate the bravery of Col. John Henry Patterson during his work on the Uganda-Mombasa Railway. The film’s largest exaggeration comes in the form of Michael Douglas’s completely fictional character. While the addition of his character adds emotion to the story and makes the hunting sequence more interesting, he actually cheapens the bravery of Patterson, who historically hunted these lions on his own. The film is probably most notable for its graphic portrayal of lion attacks. Their ferocity commands respect and you can certainly understand why the Kenyans were scared to work on this railroad. Val Kilmer’s acting is about what you would expect from him (not in a good way) and is showed up by John Kani and Tom Wilkinson’s two scenes. I don’t find Kilmer to be a very likeable actor so it is hard to connect with his character. Still, the story carries high emotions from start to finish. Or maybe it’s fear of these predators. “The Ghost and the Darkness” isn’t the greatest African adventure I have ever seen but its graphic visuals and interesting story make it worth watching, maybe even twice.
[Pictured: These lead characters are pretty awesome...]
[Pictured: But this film is all about the lion attacks]