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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Sheena (1984)

"My time is done, as yours is beginning. It was foretold. Sheena will protect the Zambulis at a time of great trouble."
- Shaman (Elizabeth of Toro)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: December 13, 2001

Stars: Tanya Roberts, Ted Wass
Other Stars: Donovan Scott, Elizabeth of Toro, Trevor Thomas, John Forgeman
Director: John Guillermin

MPAA Rating: PG for (mild language, violence and brief nudity)
Run Time: 01h:56m:14s
Release Date: December 04, 2001
UPC: 043396065352
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- C+B-C D+

DVD Review

Please don't pick on Tanya Roberts' portrayal of Sheena, Queen Of The Jungle. I think we all know that she didn't need to be a first-rate actress in Sheena, her only real requirements were to frolic around in a tiny outfit, ride a zebra in slow-motion, and bathe nude in a waterfall. I don't care if her line delivery is comically flat, I still love her, and this 1984 adventure-wannabe would not have come close to even meriting a mention without the eye-popping presence of Roberts. Despite being a one-time member of Charlie's Angels (the television show, that is) from 1980-1981 , as well as a memorable appearance in another loincloth classic, Beastmaster (1982), her status as a household name was built with Sheena.

How does a blonde babe become the Queen Of The Jungle, you may ask? As a five-year-old named Janet, the soon-to-be Sheena witnesses her explorer parents die in a cave-in while searching for the source of the mysterious "healing earth," deep in the heart of Africa. Quickly adopted by the local Shaman (Elizabeth of Toro), the young girl is christened Sheena, who according to prophecy is destined to be the protector of the Zambuli tribe. She is taught to communicate with animals (hey, just like Beastmaster!) by touching her forehead and furrowing her brow. A montage spans her growth into adulthood, and the fully-grown jungle queen spends much time cavorting around on a zebra (in reality a badly painted horse), doing her best to protect the good Zambulis.

Any good heroine needs a formidable villain, and in this case she's stuck with the devious Prince Otwani (Trevor Thomas), who murders his royal King brother and takes his place on the throne of Tigora. One of the Prince's selfish goals is to mine titanium from a sacred mountain on Zambuli land, and cocky American journalist Vic Casey (Soap's Ted Wass) and his chubby cameraman Fletch (Donovan Scott) have to team up with the golden-haired vine swinger to prevent the desecration of Gudjara Mountain. Amidst the bullets and explosions, Vic and Sheena make a lot goo-goo eyes at each other, and in the immortal words of the Steve Miller Band, learn the real meaning of "jungle love".

The screenplay is admittedly a little weak, and it shouldn't surprise anyone that Sheena is really nothing more than an excuse to parade around a visually appealing actress in skimpy outfits. Roberts doesn't act as much as she reads, and the already goofy dialogue sounds even sillier when it's delivered badly. Her stilted delivery makes her sound like Tonto, and her habit of calling Vic "Viccasey" is cloying, at best. When she haltingly utters lines like "Stop saying words you know I do not understand", it's hard not to chuckle out loud.

For all of it's inherent camp, the disc manages to look visually impressive now and then, at least scenery-wise. Much of it was shot on location in Kenya, and director John Guillermin makes good use of some sweeping vistas and travelogue worthy locales. There are plenty of lions, elephants, chimps and rhinos around to help the Queen Of The Jungle beat the bad guys, and they perform all sorts of unnaturally human-like heroic acts. One of Guillermin's other directorial claims to fame was the ill-fated 1976 King Kong remake, and with Sheena he may have earned another place in cinematic history by including one of the only deadly flamingo attacks I've ever seen in a movie.

A film like this is no more ridiculous, in concept at least, than any of the Tarzan epics, and Guillermin isn't shy about boosting the cheesecake factor up fairly high. Even with a ton of dramatic shortcomings, as well as an overly chatty runtime that almost hits 2 hours(!), Sheena is a throwback to those carefree days when the only requirement for mindless entertainment was a jungle girl in a loincloth. And a waterfall.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - P&S
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: The image transfer, done up surprisingly in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, looks fairly clean. A few specks here and there, but there isn't much in the way of overly distracting blemishes and some edge enhancement. All is not lost, though. Just take a look at any of the big, dramatic outdoor shots. Here the colors and flesh tones, especially in the panoramic daylight shots, are well-saturated and natural, though there is a little color bloom at times. Hard core Sheena fans will no doubt appreciate the image quality during her numerous bathing scenes. The real flaw are the few night sequences, which have little in the way of shadow depth, making most of the shots come across rather muddy and a bit grainy. A 1.33:1 pan-and-scan version is on the flip side.

Not the best DVD transfer I've ever seen, but one that more than matches the tone of the film it is attached to.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes

Audio Transfer Review: Sheena is outfitted from Columbia TriStar with a rather lifeless 2.0 surround track. Almost a glorified mono track for the lack of overall dynamics, the mix here only dishes out a few meager rear channel effects, such as helicopters. The track is predominantly tinny, with really no bottom end range. I would have loved a remixed 5.1 track, considering this type of tacky jungle adventure could have no doubt benefited from a beefier, fuller sound field.

Audio Transfer Grade: C


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai with remote access
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Buddy, Jumanji
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The bare-bones disc is virtually supplement free, with the de riguer 28 chapter stops, a pair of animal themed trailers (Buddy and Jumanji), and Columbia TriStar's typical subtitle smorgasbord of English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

I'll be man enough to admit that Sheena is a 1980s B-movie guilty pleasure of mine, no doubt due to the vine-swinging Tanya Roberts. This is one of those films I really hate to admit to liking, but it's mixture of sheer tackiness and sex appeal still holds up for me.


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