Picks and Pans Review: A Far Off Place

updated 03/22/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/22/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

Reese Witherspoon, Ethan Randall

While it has moments of warmth and tense excitement, this live-action adventure is so sloppily directed it is lacking in clarity on all sides, especially in its dim lighting and sound and murky plotting.

It is also shockingly violent and vulgar for a Disney production.

The movie's focal point is a cross-desert trek by two teenagers and their guide. Witherspoon plays the daughter of a game-preserve proprietor in what appears to be an independent, landlocked nation within southern Africa. Randall plays an American visiting the preserve with his father. A group of poachers murders the teens' parents, and Witherspoon wanders onto the scene, so the poachers start hunting her too.

The poachers don't believe that Witherspoon and Randall would try to flee them by walking 700 miles across the Kalahari Desert. Neither will you, though the kids get a guiding hand from Sarel Bok, who plays Witherspoon's Bushman neighbor.

The chase itself offers some excitement, even though it's often hard to tell who is shooting at whom. There's more suspense as to whether sex will occur between the two healthy teenagers than about their chances of escaping the villains. (PG)

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