Monkey noir? Yes, ‘Dark Days’ indeed

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From Shakespeare to SpongeBob, there is, apparently, nothing John Rhys-Davies can’t or won’t do. The plummy-voiced, English-born Welsh actor is best known here for his roles in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy -- he played Gimli and gave voice to Treebeard -- and as Indiana Jones’ faithful, portly companion Sallah. Indeed Rhys-Davies is such a democratic actor that he appears in the film clip designed to entertain those waiting in line for the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland.

So it’s not surprising that he would agree to narrate a show called “Dark Days in Monkey City” for Animal Planet -- friends and colleagues Sean Astin and Bill Nighy gathered accolades and cult followings for narrating “Meerkat Manor,” on which ‘Dark Days’ is clearly based. But now that it’s out -- ‘Dark Days’ premiered last week -- we can only hope that Rhys-Davies has learned what most actors of his stature tend to take to extremes -- the power of no.

While ‘Meerkat Manor’ was a fascinating and addictive look at the social and political systems of its titular creatures, ‘Dark Days in Monkey City’ is just plain silly, much more a lesson in over-the-top film editing than animal behavior.


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