The noble intentions of director-writer-producer Noel Marshall and his actress-wife Tippi Hedren shine through the faults and short-comings of Roar, their 11-year, $17 million project – touted as the most disaster-plagued pic in Hollywood history.
Given the enormous difficulties during production – a devastating flood, several fires, an epidemic that decimated the feline cast and numerous injuries to actors and crew, it’s a miracle that the pic was completed.
Here is a passionate plea for the preservation of African wildlife meshed with an adventure-horror tale which aims to be a kind of Jaws of the jungle. If it seems at times more like Born Free gone berserk, such are the risks of planting the cast in the bush (actually the Marshalls’ ranch in Soledad Canyon in California), surrounded by 150 untrained lions, leopards, tigers, cheetahs and other big cats, not to mention several large and ill-tempered elephants.
Thin plot has Hedren and her three children trekking to Africa to reunite with Marshall, an eccentric scientist who’s been living in a three-story wooden house in the jungle with his feline friends, an experiment to show that humans and beasts can happily coexist.
Hedren and her daughter Melanie Griffith have proved their dramatic ability elsewhere: here they and their costars are required to do little more than look petrified.