Released Year: 1997
Directed by Peter Hyams
Penelope Ann Miller as Dr. Margo Green
Tom Sizemore as Lt. Vincent D'Agosta
Linda Hunt as Dr. Ann Cuthbert
James Whitmore as Dr. Albert Frock
Clayton Rohner as Sgt. Hollingsworth
Chi Muoi Lo as Dr. Greg Lee
John Whitney, an anthropologist for the Museum of Natural History in Chicago, studies a tribe in South America, and drinks a soup made by the tribesmen. Shortly after, Whitney accosts a merchant ship captain, asking him to remove from the ship the cargo Whitney intended to send to Chicago. Unwilling to delay the ship's departure, the captain refuses and Whitney sneaks aboard. He doesn't find his cargo and cries out.
Six weeks later, the ship arrives on the Illinois River, with its crew missing. Chicago PD homicide detective Lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta and his partner, Sgt. Hollingsworth, investigate the ship and find dozens of bodies and severed heads in the bilge.
Dr. Margo Green, an evolutionary biologist, arrives at work at the museum. She and her mentor, Dr. Frock, examine Whitney's crates. The crates are empty, except for a bed of leaves and a stone statue of the "Kothoga," a mythical forest monster. Noticing a fungus on the leaves, Margo takes some for analysis. That night, a security guard named Fred Ford is murdered in the same manner as the ship's crew. D'Agosta suspects a connection. Believing the killer is still inside the museum, he orders it closed until the police have finished searching. Dr. Cuthbert, the museum director, protests and mentions an important upcoming exhibition.
Margo discovers the fungus contains concentrated hormones found in several animal species. In the container of leaves, she finds a beetle which earlier crawled inside and has grown to abnormal size. The beetle has mutated into a hybrid creature, possessing both insect and reptilian DNA. Ford's autopsy reveals that his hypothalamus was extracted from his brain, exactly like the bodies from the ship. In the museum's basement, the police are startled by a homeless man and shoot him death. The man is found to be a convicted felon with a history of mental illness. Finding Ford's wallet on him, everyone except D'Agosta considers the case closed. Nevertheless, D'Agosta has to give in when the Mayor orders him to let the exhibition proceed.
On the opening night, D'Agosta orders locking down all areas of the museum except the main exhibition hall. Dr. Frock and Margo are the last ones in the laboratory wing, and are trapped there. They keep working, and discover that Ford's killer is after the hormones on the leaves. D'Agosta and several officers search the basement tunnels once again. They are attacked by an unseen creature, which kills a tracking dog and an officer. D'Agosta tells Hollingsworth to evacuate the museum, but he is too late. In the main hall, the headless body of the murdered policeman falls into the crowd, causing a panic. During the hysteria, the museum's alarms are tripped and their security system goes haywire. The fire doors close, trapping a small group of people inside, and the power fails. Two security guards try to restore the power, but are killed by an unseen creature.
D'Agosta finds his way to the lab, and meets Margo and Dr. Frock. They are then attacked by a Kothoga, an enormous chimeric beast. They manage to close a steel door to stop it. Margo theorizes that the Kothoga grew from a smaller animal that mutated after eating the fungal leaves in the crates. Dr. Frock expands on her hypothesis: without the leaves to eat, the Kothoga instinctively seeks the closest substitute: human hypothalami. The tribe that Whitney was studying must have discovered the properties of these leaves, and used them to turn a given animal into a biological weapon that would eventually die when it ran out of targets (they would first carefully hide themselves, and then loose the beast onto the territory of a threatening/rival tribe).
D'Agosta finds a radio and tells Hollingsworth to lead the museum guests out via an old coal tunnel. Several guests refuse to go, opting to wait for the fire doors to be opened from the outside. The Kothoga returns to the main hall and murders them, as well as the S.W.A.T. officers entering through the skylights.
Margo deduces that, as the Kothoga is part-reptilian, it is likely cold-blooded and can be killed with liquid nitrogen. She and D'Agosta collect the remaining leaves from the lab, but discover that Dr. Frock -who had earlier 'volunteered' to stay behind because of his wheelchair-bound condition -has already been killed by the creature. In the sewer underneath the museum, D'Agosta uses the leaves to lure the Kothoga away from the coal tunnel, allowing the guests to escape the museum. However, liquid nitrogen has no effect on the creature. Margo and D'Agosta flee. D'Agosta tells her to lock herself in the lab, while he tries to stop the creature. As Margo protests, her computer completes the analysis of the creature's human DNA, which was earlier determined to make up some 33% of the biological gestalt. The Kothoga was not sent back by Whitney, The Kothoga is Whitney, mutated after drinking the tribesmen's soup.
The Kothoga smashes into the lab through the ceiling, while D'Agosta is locked outside. The creature chases Margo and corners her. It suddenly pauses, seemingly recognizing her from its former life as Whitney. Margo starts an explosive fire that destroys the Kothoga, while she survives by hiding inside a maceration tank. As dawn comes, D'Agosta and a team of police break into the lab, see the charred remains of the Kothoga, and rescue Margo from the tank.
L² Scored: 3/10
This movie is based from the best selling novel of Douglas Preston's Relic (1995), but how best selling? I'm not sure, but if purely based on this movie, I don't think is best selling at all. First of all, the storyline is so predictable, its kinda like Aliens & Predators back in the 80s... Furthermore, the creatures inside totally look the same as the creatures from Aliens + Predators... Well, this will fall in my "one-off" movie list which I will not watch it again...