Sheena

Part animal. Part legend. All woman.

Action Adventure Comedy
117 min     5.8     1984     United Kingdom

Overview

Sheena's parents are killed while on Safari. She is raised by the mystical witch woman of an African tribe. When her foster mother is framed for the murder of a political leader, Sheena and a newsman, Vic Casey, are forced to flee while pursued by the mercenaries hired by the real killer, who hopes to assume power. Sheena's ability to talk to the animals and knowledge of jungle lore give them a chance against the high tech weapons of the mercenaries.

Reviews

Wuchak wrote:
_**Just imagine a female Tarzan**_ With slight modifications, Sheena is basically a female version of Tarzan and was the first female comic book character with her own title, debuting in 1937 in Great Britain and 1938 in America. The first jungle girl in adventure fiction was Rima from the 1904 book by William Henry Hudson “Green Mansions,” which was made into a movie starring Audrey Hepburn as Rima in 1959. DC Comics later had a short-lived series called “Rima the Jungle Girl” in 1974-75. Model Irish McCalla depicted Sheena in a TV series that aired for one season from 1955-1956. Meanwhile Marvel Comics developed their own Sheena-like jungle girl named Shanna the She-Devil, which debuted in a short-lived series in late 1972; she was subsequently a guest character in issues of Ka-Zar and Daredevil. Lorna, Nyoka and Jana (aka Jungle Girl) are other comic book jungle heroines, amidst others. I note the history of jungle females to illustrate their comic book ties. It’s no surprise, therefore, that the movie “Sheena,” aka “Sheena, Queen of the Jungle” (1984) plays like a comic book on screen. Everyone knows going in that the plot, dialog and acting of a film like this will be of the comic book variety with a similar tone to Tarzan flicks or Indiana Jones. What's magnificent, awe-inspiring and "A" level are the African locations (Kenya), the entertaining array of animals, the grand score and Tanya Roberts in the titular role. As far as the African locations go, if you're bored with your every-day locale, this movie is the perfect antidote. It's virtually a two-hour tour of some of the most gorgeous African scenery you'll ever feast your eyes on. Concerning the animals, there are elephants, rhinos, hippos, chimps, giraffes and more; all real and no CGI. As for the score, it's pleasant and meditative; reminiscent of "Chariots of Fire." And Tanya Roberts, what can I say? She's a stunning example of womanhood; so is France Zobda as Zanda, but she’s a villain. I never concern myself with ratings when watching films, but I couldn't help but be a little surprised by the PG rating here because Sheena (Roberts) is shown TOTALLY nude on a few occasions and prances around throughout the flick in a ridiculously skimpy leather bikini (Zanda is also shown nude getting a massage). Yet it struck me that the nakedness/semi-nakedness is portrayed in an inoffensive way like Eve in Eden before the fall and the consequent awareness of evil. In other words, there's an almost child-like innocence and purity to Sheena even though she's a quite skilled jungle warrior. I commend the filmmakers for capturing this quality. For this reason I don't feel the movie is inappropriate for kids, despite the nudity. While Siskel & Ebert laughed at “Sheena” on their show in 1984 and wrote it off as a “bad movie,” it’s very effective for what it is: a comic-based flick about a beautiful, but formidable jungle woman, a journalist she meets (Ted Wass) and their fight against evil oppressors. What were they expecting, “Chariots of Fire” or “Gandhi”? Films should be critiqued according to what they ARE and aspire to achieve, not what they aren’t. My appraisal reflects the happy medium between the Grade B plot, dialog & acting and the Grade A African locations, animals, score and Ms. Roberts. The film runs 117 minutes. GRADE: B

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