Picks and Pans Review: Christopher Columbus: the Discovery

updated 09/07/1992 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/07/1992 01:00AM

George Corraface, Marlon Brando, Tom Selleck, Rachel Ward

All right, maybe the world isn't flat. But this listless historical epic sure is. Even Brando—as Torquemada, the Inquisition's founding father and confessor to Queen Isabella (Ward)—is meek. If this guy had run the Inquisition, it would have been limited to questionnaires and bake sales. But then, Brando is paying more attention to political correctness than acting these days. Following his credo—take the money and run off at the mouth—he criticized this film for glorifying a man he considers a villain after taking $5 million for a role in which he looms onscreen for barely five minutes.

As for Columbus, Corraface (Impromptu), a Frenchman, plays the explorer as a petulant sort who sways King Ferdinand (Selleck) by threatening to take his west-to-Asia gimmick to France. He never seems to have a sense of how profound his voyage is. Even when his ships finally sail into San Salvador (now the Bahamas), he is merely confused. "This must be one of the Outer Indies," he tells his sailors.

That sort of unconscious humor is typical of the lame script by Mario Puzo, John (Gandhi) Briley and TV writer Cary Bates, from a Puzo story.

Though director John Glen, a veteran of such James Bond films as For Your Eves Only and A View to a Kill, stages sword-lighting scenes, he never overlays the story with any appreciation of the momentous events it involves. There's a built-in sequel to this film—Columbus II: The Capital of Ohio—but we don't have to wait; 1492: The Conquest of Paradise (with Gérard Depardieu) is due this fall. Since you know how the story ends, you can wait for a more artful telling. (PG-13)

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