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Land of the Lost Movie Synopsis

Release date: June 5, 2009
Writer: Chris Henchy and Dennis McNicholas
Director: Brad Silberling

A man who appears to be a U.S. astronaut in full spacesuit slogs through a swamp while attempting to reach Mission Control over his suit radio and describing the environment in which he has landed. Then a giant roar is heard from off camera and, as the astronaut turns to look, the face of a carnivorous dinosaur (presumably Grumpy) is reflected in the faceplate as the beast lunges in for lunch.


On the Today show, Dr. Rick Marshall is promoting his new book, My Other Car is a Time Machine. He posits that his new theory, quantum paleontology, which involves time warps, will end the energy crisis and change our industrialized society forever. Host Matt Lauer thinks he's a loon and Marshall tries to attack him but is held down by on-set security.


Three years later, we find Dr. Marshall, his career ruined by his disastrous appearance on the Today show, giving science tours and lectures to school children at the La Brea Tar Pits. One afternoon he is visited by an attractive British doctoral candidate, Holly Cantrell, who believes in his theories and in the tachyon amplifier, an unbuilt device of Marshall's design which he claims could allow people to tap into time warps. Holly believes his theories because she has a 250-million-year-old fossilized chunk of rock with a Zippo lighter imprint in it. He denies interest in continuing his old work and she leaves, but we see that the Zippo lighter imprint matches his own Zippo.


Later that night, Marshall is motivated to build the tachyon amplifier out of spare parts from around the La Brea complex, but is afraid to test it lest it fail. He has an eating disorder and goes on a fast food binge late into the night before passing out. Holly finds him on the floor of his office in the morning and together they decide to return to the site where she found the fossil to test the device.


They arrive at the site, the Devil's Canyon Mystery Cave, a cheap roadside attraction in the California desert. The proprietor, Will Stanton, takes Marshall and Holly on the tourist ride consisting of a yellow rubber raft on a man-made watercourse through a fake cave system. Marshall powers up the tachyon amplifier on the cruise, it seemingly triggers an earthquake and the opening of a portal through time and space. They fall through the portal.


The three pass out and awaken to find themselves in a desert sand dune landscape. An ancient Viking ship is sand-logged nearby and an old airplane is crashed into it. Three moons hang in the sky. The tachyon amplifier is nowhere to be seen. Then they hear some voices over the dunes and rush to investigate. They see two hairy ape men dragging a third to an altar-like slab of engraved stone. The two seem about to kill the younger one, so our heroes intervene in their clumsy manner. The two adult ape men flee (with Will's lighter) and they soon learn the youngster is called Chaka.


Marshall tries to examine Chaka's injured ankle, but the little Paku runs off in fear. They chase him, but they are then all sucked down into a sand tunnel which dumps them out into a cave where the neighborhood tyrannosaur appears to feed. The beast tries to gobble them down, but they manage to run out of the cave, through the jungle and across a stone bridge over a crevasse which leads them to a cave in which they take refuge. Marshall ridicules the poor tyrannosaur who can't catch them, saying his brain is only the size of a walnut. The tyrannosaur stalks off in anger and Holly opines they ought to call him Grumpy.


They find some old equipment and two human skeletons in the cave wearing U.S. army uniforms that all appear to date from WWII. As night falls, a leaf-wrapped gift lands in front of the cave. Opening it, they discover a humongous walnut...Grumpy's way of telling them that's the size of his brain and he is after them.


The next morning, Marshall receives a telepathic summons of some kind that draws them all down into the jungle and to an ancient temple with a crystalline pylon standing in the courtyard center.


Chaka shouts "Sarisataka!" over and over, but the three humans don't understand what he means. Then, from dark alcoves in the temple walls, emerge a horde of the lizard-men known as Sleestak. Chaka makes a clean getaway, but the three humans are left trapped as the Sleestak close in on them, their gaping mouths revealing double-rows of sharp teeth. Marshall somehow gets the idea to use Holly's shiny belt buckle to reflect the sun's rays into the eyes of the nearby Sleestak statues. This causes the rays of refracted light to strike the pylon, opening a doorway into the structure. The humans rush inside to escape the Sleestak and said Sleestak seem unable to enter the edifice.


The doorway closes behind them and Marshall, Will, and Holly find themselves in a space much large than the dimensions of the pylon from outside. Here they also meet Enik the Altrusian who appears to be related to the Sleestak, but significantly more intelligent. He says he called Marshall here telepathically and asks for his help to prevent the Zarn from conquering the universe and says that he can help them all to escape from their entrapment in the Land of the Lost. All they need is to retrieve Marshall's tachyon amplifier, which Enik detects is not far away. They agree.


Leaving the pylon, the humans are later reunited with Chaka who leads them to a desert portion of the Land which is littered with Earthly artifacts delivered by the time-space portals. Here they are chased by both Grumpy and a female Allosaurus. They elude Grumpy and kill the Allosaurus, retrieving briefly the tachyon amplifier which the Allosaurus had swallowed. But the recovered amplifier is snatched up by a soaring pterodactyl who apparently flies off to a volcano in the distance, leaving Marshall despondent at ever achieving a successful outcome in his life, let alone returning home.


The four make camp in the jungle that night and Marshall screws up his courage to continue the fight. In the morning they all agree to climb the slope of the volcano to get the amplifier back. At the top they find the amplifier is sitting within the caldera incubator of a pterodactyl nest filled with dozens of eggs. Marshall must very carefully cross the hardened crust of the caldera to retrieve the device without disturbing the eggs lest they hatch. The eggs begin to hatch anyway, but he is just barely successful in escaping with the amplifier and they make it out of there with their lives.


They head back to the desert and an oasis made up of the derelict of a motel and its swimming pool. With the exception of Holly, they dive in for some water fun. Then Chaka picks some magala fruit, which is intoxicating, and they all get wasted, again with the exception of Holly; she is adjusting the tachyon amplifier and receives a signal on it which leads her a short distance away where there is another crystal pylon. The amplifier's own signal seems to cause the pylon door to open and she enters, leaving the amplifier outside as a bread crumb to the rest. Instead of leading to a pylon interior, it leads into a cave.


Exploring the cave, Holly finds what appears to be a nest of dinosaur eggs and takes one for later study. Then she unwittingly triggers a holographic projection of the Zarn. Turns out the Zarn is an Altrusian jailer who is killed by the criminal Enik at the end of the recording. Realizing they've been helping a criminal, she is about to head back to the others to warn them when she is captured by Sleestaks.


In the morning, the three males awake from their stupor and realize that Holly is missing. They follow her tracks to the pylon and find the amplifier laying outside where she left it. Marshall sends Chaka with the tachyon amplifier to let Enik know what is going on while he and Will enter the pylon. Moving through the cave, they come upon two Sleestaks mating. In the process, the reptilian creatures shed their skin and Marshall and Will don the skins as camouflage, making their way back to the temple where a Sleestak army has gathered to sacrifice Holly to their god as pronounced by a court of Altrusian skulls.


Marshall and Will reveal themselves and learn from the skulls of Enik's criminal status. Marshall rescues Holly from the suspended cage she is held in and she kisses him passionately just before Enik shows up. He laughs at the humans and tells them of his plans to conquer the universe, starting with Earth thanks to his Sleestak army and Marshall's tachyon amplifier now in his possession.


Grumpy shows up, seeking his final showdown with Marshall. Enik leaves them to it as he re-enters the central pylon and begins using the amplifier in combination with the matrix table to open a portal to Earth.


Marshall uses a Sleestak staff in an attempt to pole vault over the T. rex, but he shoots right into the carnivore's mouth and is swallowed whole. Grumpy stalks off in satisfaction, leaving the humans to face the Sleestak, who close in on them. Holly and Will do their best to fight them off with Chaka's help, but it's a losing proposition. Then, suddenly, Grumpy returns with Marshall riding on his back. The T. rex swats and chomps his way through the Sleestak horde until they are all dead, unconscious or fled. Marshall explains that he quickly passed all the way through Grumpy's digestive track and dislodged a "blockage" along the way that has made the dinosaur much friendlier toward him. They part friends with the carnivore and enter the pylon to stop Enik.


They wrestle with Enik and as the portal to Earth is about to close, Will and Chaka grab hold of the Altrusian. Will says he will stay behind to hold back Enik while Marshall and Holly escape. The two arrive back at the Devil's Canyon Mystery Cave.


Back in the Land, Will and Chaka make their way to the Pakuni village. Will comments on how the Sleestak have now rebelled against Enik. They arrive at the village and are greeted warmly by the Pakuni females who are human-looking, gorgeous and sexy by Earth standards. Will, of course, is in seventh heaven.


Back on Earth a year later, Dr. Marshall appears on the Today show with a new book, Matt Lauer Can Suck It.

During the closing credits of the movie, the Today show crew is cleaning up the set and turning out the lights at the end of the day and they find the dinosaur egg that Holly had picked up in the Land and which Marshall had given to Matt Lauer during their latest interview. They set it aside on top of a coffee mug and walk away, not seeing it crack open and a baby Sleestak emerging.

Land of the Lost Movie Study