Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
20 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
extremely entertaining
film-guy29 June 2005
I had a wonderful time watching this film. I know it's considered by some to be inferior in comparison to the more lofty Conquest of Paradise, but I just can't help liking it. I'd rather watch Christopher Columbus: The Discovery over The Conquest of Paradise any time. It's a swashbuckling high-adventure movie with plenty of panache. Perhaps that wasn't what many expected from a Columbus movie, but it works for me. One previous reviewer said it seemed like something Erol Flynn would have starred in. I agree. I first approached this flick as an entertaining tall-tale in the tradition of classic adventure/pirate films and greatly enjoyed The Discovery.
24 out of 29 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A fun romp!
caligariscabinet13 November 2005
This great swashbuckler is completely underrated! Made in the style of the 1940s adventures with Tyrone Power, this film is fun and exciting and I definitely recommend it. And the cast! It's so cool to see the great Brando pass the proverbial torch to next generation actors Benecio Del Toro and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Rachel Ward is excellent as Queen Isabella and Robert Davi is superb. People expected to get a serious drama about Columbus but what they got was much more fun and for this people complain? The shots are beautiful, filmed on the open seas, and the adventure is non-stop. I watched it again this this Columbus Day- what a treat!
23 out of 29 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An old-timey sort of film; should have starred Errol Flynn
smatysia11 June 2005
This seems really to be an old-fashioned adventure film, the kind the studios churned out in great numbers in the 1940's. Maybe an Errol Flynn vehicle. That's the way Georges Corraface plays it, and it's okay. Not great, but okay. Marlon Brando totally mailed it in, as he was wont to do in his later years. Tom Selleck is a wonderful actor, but he really couldn't pull it off in this one. Rachel Ward was much more believable as Queen Isabella, regal, with more than a little bit of religious fanaticism. She also played it with minimal make-up, looking very forty-ish, something many actresses of her stature and beauty would have refused. Catherine Zeta-Jones and Benicio del Toro put in decent showings, given the limitations of the material. The scriptwriters were probably in a bit of a quandary, since the occasion (500th anniversary) called for a hagiography, but on the other hand, political correctness makes Colon out to be a villain. They tried to split the difference, and it didn't work. But over-all, this film is not as bad as some make it out to be. Oh, and mention must be made of the beauty of Tailinh Forest Flower as the Indian chieftain's daughter. Wow!
17 out of 21 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
swashbuckling adventure / cautionary tale
magicinema18 November 2005
Do not go into this movie expecting a strictly serious biography of Christopher Columbus. This is an adventure movie by the same producers of The Three Musketeers, The Four Musketeers, Superman: The Movie, Superman II, Superman III, Supergirl, and Santa Claus: The Movie. It was directed by the same director of Iron Eagle III, License To Kill, Living Daylights, View To A Kill, and Octopussy. All of that means this isn't a serious historical biography and was never intended to be. It's a swashbuckling version of the legend of Columbus that's also cautionary tale about the destructive power of greed. It's also family entertainment so don't expect it to be too dull or deep. I look forward to the day when this movie is available on DVD.
20 out of 27 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
"India, right?"
TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews11 January 2010
I do not know everything about the actual story, but I can imagine that it is more compelling than this. When I learned that this was written in part by Mario "The Godfather" Puzo, I got to hope for quality. With that said, I honestly doubt that I would have enjoyed this all that much regardless of how low my expectations were. The plot isn't all that engaging, and the pacing is uneven. This flick is simply put one of the best arguments for why you should not base viewing choices upon the cast alone. There are *amazing* actors in this, and they are utterly wasted. And several performances in this are unforgivably hammy. The special effects are painfully unconvincing. I wish I was kidding when I say that there is amateur theater with less obvious FX. Did I miss something? This was made in 1992! Did they misplace the budget? For that matter, how did the scenery get to look so bad? This is an adventure film, and that, at least in this case, means fight sequences. They're decent, but if you're looking for that, you can find far superior ones easily. There is some female nudity in this, for anyone that attracts or repels. I recommend this solely to history teachers who have a severe grudge against their students. 5/10
6 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
should have been sold as a comedy!
mjneu5912 November 2010
From the producer of 'Superman: The Movie' and 'Santa Claus: The Movie' comes what may well be the climax of a trilogy: the two-fisted tale of a lusty Genoese navigator who dared to sail the ocean blue to a New World, with a chorus, believe it or not, of Gloria in Excelsis Deo in the background. What more can be said? True guilty pleasures demand a willing suspension of good taste, and this tacky Hollywood whitewash may well stand as a classic of its kind. Screenwriter Mario Puzo tries to include as much history as he can, but the film is strictly a cartoon melodrama, complete with sword fights, romance, some pretty Atlantic Ocean sunsets and, in a casting nightmare unrivaled since Mel Gibson attempted Shakespeare, Tom Selleck and Rachel Ward playing King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. The film was sponsored by Quinto Centenario Spain, the official Columbus 500th anniversary commemorative society, which helps explain the flattering matinée idol heroism. But, honestly, could anything else have been expected from the director of Iron Eagle II and the previous few James Bond adventures?
7 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Christopher Columbus: the Travesty
D Throat10 February 1999
Really not much of anything: all the things that could have been interesting to work out (such as the enslavement of the natives) are not pursued, but rather avoided, and the cast isn't great either. Tom Selleck as the King of Spain is an exceptional example of miscasting. There is lack of depth and indeed lack of actual involvement with the subject. Too bad, now the movie is boring and pointless, really. Watch 1492 Conquest of Paradise instead.
11 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
world history according to Ed Wood
lee_eisenberg13 January 2014
If any story should make a fascinating movie, it's the story of Columbus: a voyage across the ocean and landing on a hitherto unknown continent. His colonization of the Americas set the stage for Europe's domination of the world.

So how did they make such a lame-brained movie about it? Let's see: they cast Tom Selleck as King Ferdinand (whose idea was that?!) and gave the characters lines that sound more like something out of an Ed Wood movie. I understand that the Indians were initially planning to protest "Christopher Columbus: The Discovery", but when they saw how moronic it was, they realized that there was no need to protest it! The real irony is seeing Marlon Brando in the movie. He had come out in support of the American Indian Movement and famously sent a woman dressed in tribal regalia to accept his Oscar for "The Godfather". So why did he star in this?

Basically, you'll feel tempted to make the sorts of comments that Mike, Servo and Crow hurl at the crummy movies on "Mystery Science Theater 3000". While the characters were walking through what appeared to be a torture chamber, I said "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!" If you ask me, something that should get emphasized is the expulsion of the Jews and Muslims from Spain, and how the confiscation of their property financed the expeditions to the Americas. To say nothing of the Inquisition itself.

If the movie has any points of interest, it's the early appearances of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Benicio Del Toro. Everyone had to start somewhere. Nonetheless, the best movie dealing with Columbus's landing on Hispaniola (NOT discovery) is "Even the Rain". I also recommend James Loewen's book "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong".
7 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The discovery is that the film's a turkey.
Colonel Ted21 September 1999
Columbus must have turned in his grave because this is one of the worst films of the '90s, devoid of anything that could make it work on every level. It's a very old-fashioned adventure story, except in the old days they knew how to make film's like these. Director John Glen (who made some of the James Bond films) badly handles what little action there is and his direction is uninspired and unintentionally camp. The film looks like it was made in the '70s and there is no trace of style at all. The scenes on the islands with the Indians are a hoot. Production quality is poor (the ships look like they were made from cardboard), but that nothing compared to the terrible acting. Selleck and Ward as Ferdinand and Isabella are terrible, as is Corraface as Columbus, and the only pain Brando is giving out as Torqumada is by his mumbling performance. The script is based entirely in cliché terms and ideas are half hatched. It also bares a worrying resemblance to Carry on Columbus. The editing is some of the worst ever done for a film with scenes put together in slap-dash fashion with no sense of time or coherence. An object lesson in how NOT to make a film on every level. It even fails on its simplest level: to portray the courage and vision that these men had to cross the "ocean of darkness". Ridley Scott's 1492: Conquest of Paradise is so much better in every way that it doesn't do justice to be mentioned it in the same review.
12 out of 29 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Far better than it's got credit for
OJT30 March 2015
This was heavily based by critics all over in 1992, when compared to "1492 - Conquest of Paradise". That film was also OK (7/10), and it took me years to seek out this, as it was bashed the way it was. However, I've seen later DVD-reviews being far more favorable, and they're right!

This film is more of a dramas than an action movie. And it's most certainly way more true in depicting how the long sea trip took place, as well as how it all got to get that far. I found the waiting for them to see land as exciting as the action which is probably what was the reason critics didn't like it back in 1992. It was also said the acting was bad back them. That's pure crap. The acting is good.

The way the film depicts the bad parts of the conquering is simply great. It goes down through the bone marrow. Sometimes critics just follow each other like a flock of seagulls. And all around the world they copy what's been said "over there". This premiered in USA and Germany 14 days before the rest of the world, which just followed up the bad critics. This was before the world had seen much of Internet.

It shows Columbus as a kind, but also hard man. He is not shown as a pure hero. He steal the gold and silver from the Indians, and he lets crime happen. He also took slaves back, and forced the Christian religion upon them, to show how good the Indians were when brought back to Spain. It was purely awful. It's grim in many ways. No wonder it was seen upon as a travesty back at the 500 years anniversary.

See it. See a much more true story than the other films, though it has no happy ending! Just as it was. The modern world ruined the Central Americas in an awful way.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Terrible Film and Even Worse History
HistoryFilmBuff26 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Corny, goofy, and with some of the worst non-acting you ever saw: It doesn't get much worse than Tom Selleck as an effete fop. Try and hear him say "Por-too-gahl" without busting out laughing.

Or Rachel Ward playing Queen Isabela as a shallow minded slut who gives Columbus money because she was horny for him. Seriously, this film claims that! Try and reconcile that with the real life history: Isabella was a sharp, powerful queen who presided over the uniting of her nation, and one of the most devout Catholics to ever be on the throne. There's good reason she's called Isabela La Catolica and the Defender of the Faith.

And Columbus as a supposed charming rake? (Actually this actor comes across as a conceited ass in love with his own reflection.)Oh yeah, and showing his wife as a hot young thing...Columbus married a widow older than him, for her money.

Please! Columbus was a driven, obsessed religious fanatic who thought the world was coming to an end in hislifetime, a believer in The End Times who thought he would play a role in Arrmageddon.

Which, of course, is the worst thing the film does. It whitewashes genocide, doesn't show Columbus as the man who killed at least 800,000 Taino Indians, chopping off hand if they didn't give him enough gold, handing over Indian girls for his soldiers to rape as rewards for jobs well done, feeding Indian bodies to his dogs, and personally raping Indian women and enslaving both Indians and Africans. And he went to prison in Spain, for falsely imprisoning and torturing Spaniards.

Skip this travesty and see the far better films, Surviving Columbus or Columbus Didn't Discover Us. And unlike this sanitized fiction, these two films are the truth. And you can find them for free on Youtube.
4 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
harryplinkett1417 August 2014
My god, this Columbus kicks ass! Look, he's not apologizing! Look, he is not glorifying Islam! Look, he's not lamenting the evil of white people! Look, he's not a whimpering, deceitful wretch!

In other words, this film is nothing like Ridley Scott's politically correct pile of rubbish about the discovery of America.

This Columbus is confident, unapologetic, full of spirit. He does not weep and doubt himself in every scene. He's not a confused, indecisive fat git. Nor is he an evil murderer. He represents the spirit of Europe. He feels proud just as the filmmakers want us to feel proud of being Europeans.

That's why I give it ten stars. On purely artistic grounds, it's no great achievement, despite its budget and solid cast.
6 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Fortunately for this movie, they don't give "zero" an option as marks out of ten.
Victor Field12 February 2003
The 500th anniversary of C. Columbus's voyage to what he thought was India was deemed worthy of two major motion pictures (no, "Carry On Columbus" doesn't count). The trouble is that at the time there was much general apathy in the world as a whole about the whole thing, as evidenced by the lack of box office success for both this and the comparatively better "1492: Conquest Of Paradise" - neither was much to write home about, but "Christopher Columbus: The Discovery" was the worse of the two by far, and it's fortunate that Alexander Salkind will be remembered for "Superman" instead of this (it was his last production).

In pretty much every department from casting (Tom Selleck as the King of Spain. Why?) through writing ("Admiral Colon, you have won our respect and our admiration. Now where's my gold?" Note: In spite of the title, the legendary seafarer is correctly referred to as Cristobal Colon throughout... except when someone calls him "Christopher Columbus" at one point) to "special" effects, on top of an ending that leaves a really bad taste in the mouth - we cut from the misery left behind in the New World to our hero exulting as Cliff Eidelman's wildly over-the-top music bursts forth - the movie's embarrassing, shoddy and offensive. Not that the other Columbus movie didn't have its own faults (the exceptional dullness is only one of its problems) but at least Ridley Scott and Co. studied it with a bit more depth than this tosh.

Funny how Catherine Zeta-Jones never mentions this one.
7 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
only one ray of hope...
isis_whit1 January 2000
It's definitely not the best of movies on this topic. The story is packed with cliches, the scenery looks pretty unreal. And the cast is just terrible, except Robert Davi, who makes this movie a little more a pleasure to watch. Too bad to see his talent wasted once again.
5 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The second-worst film of the modern era
moonpics-14 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
My website,, lists this pick as one of the worst films of all time, here is an excerpt:

"What do you look for in a bad Movie? Lame script? Laughable casting? Crappy acting? CC has it all. George Corraface (who?) is the revisioned Chris, now a swashbuckling, knife wielding Errol Flynn kinda hero. Apparently, Chris not only discovered America, he also invented the mullet. Tom Sellick gets the Sophie Coppola Casting Award for his role as King Ferdenand (nice pageboy 'do, Tom). This film isn't even worth seeing for the topless natives scenes, where the gods apparently bestow generous breasts only upon the Chief's daughter."
4 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
There's a reason this has drifted into obscurity
Wizard-87 October 2011
After hearing so many bad reviews for this movie, I knew I had to see it because I often find big budget disasters entertaining. Though that was no easy task, since the movie has never been released on DVD and has never popped up on any of the TV channels in my area (the last one probably because of the nudity in the movie.) I finally found it in a video store that still rents out VHS tapes. Well, is it as bad as you've heard? Yeah, it's pretty bad. The acting is pretty awful and the big names in the cast seem ill at ease throughout. The movie also has a poor sense of time, with periods that took a long time in real life condensed in what seems like a couple of weeks. And despite the fairly lavish budget, a lot of the movie looks surprisingly cheap and slapdash. (For example, a lot of the time when the ships are at sea, it's clear the boats are floating just a few feet from land.) As for the character of Christopher Columbus, you never get a feel of a real character, or feel what drives him or what he really feels. If you want to find out more about Columbus, I strongly suggest you go to your local library instead of sitting through this phoniness.

Now, to find a copy of 1492: CONQUEST OF PARADISE...
2 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Discover This
The_Film_Cricket28 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
If Christopher Columbus were a happy-go-lucky swashbuckler with no introspective moments in his life and no frustrations or determination to do anything but wave his sword and march around in the latest fashions then 'Christopher Columbus: The Discovery' would be right on the mark.

This is a deadly dull and ruthlessly routine costume drama that didn't need to call the main character Christopher Columbus because you never feel that you are watching a real human being, you feel that you are watching fashion model in a perfume ad. The title role belongs not to an Italian but to a French actor named George Corraface who is a good looking guy who has his eyes more on women then on his journey.

The rest of the cast is and exercise in miscasting. Get this: Tom Selleck plays King Ferdenand, Rachel Ward plays Queen Isabella and Marlon Brando plays Torqaumada with so little energy that I expected him to doze off in the middle of his big scene. These are good actors but seeing them in these costumes and in these roles is just baffling. Christopher Columbus is a role that requires a very introspective actor, one who could act with his face and portray the frustration and anguish that probably haunted Columbus for most of his life both in America and back in Europe.

Then there is the ending in which the movie ends after a short stay in The New World and its back to Europe. I sometimes complain when movies are too short but this time I think the filmmakers did us a favor.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Really, really bad
hausrathman30 November 2002
Define laughable? Okay, how about Marlon Brando as Torquemado, the Spanish Inquisitor? Not impressed? Well, how about Rachel Ward as Queen Isabella? No, I've got it: Tom Selleck as King Ferdinand. But that's not the whole story. There's a whole lot to laugh about in this is utterly ridiculous retelling Columbus story ham handedly directed by John Glen and poorly written by a number of people included Mario Puzo - time to take back that "Godfather" Oscar. This is a hopeless morass of idiotic subplots and stabs at political correctness. The only consistent thing about the film is the overall quality: Bad. To make matters worse, it is far too cheap and cheesy-looking for an epic story of this scope.
5 out of 25 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Top 100 unintentionally hilarious films
El Guapo-217 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I leave it to the viewers good graces to determine whether or not they will watch this film. Most of you will not, and I commend you. There are certainly more worthwhile things to do with your time. However, having said that... the scene where Georges Corraface, a Frenchmen, playing Christopher Columbus (who was Genoan?), enjoys a big fat magic dragon cigar with the local Indian chief (at least played by a real native American) has to be seen to be believed. At least Tim Dalton had the good sense not to appear in this nonsense. The ending made me scratch my head and go "huh", and not in that good David Lynch kind of way either.
3 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
mostly middling with some laughable
SnoopyStyle8 September 2016
Christopher Columbus (Georges Corraface) is searching for support of his mission of exploration. He is certain of one sea connecting Europe to Marco Polo's discovery. The Portugese rejects him. King Ferdinand (Tom Selleck) and Queen Isabella (Rachel Ward) of Spain want to spread Christianity. Beatriz (Catherine Zeta-Jones) falls for Columbus. Inquisitor Father Tomas de Torquemada (Marlon Brando) interrogates him and his quest is rejected for countering religious doctrine. After getting royal acceptance, Columbus is able to convince doubting sailors and Martin Pinzon (Robert Davi) to support the voyage. Columbus faces sabotage, deprivation, brutality, and native revolt.

The story is fit for a historical drama. There are good bits and pieces but the overall is not that good. It looks inferior. This came out around the same time as "1492: Conquest of Paradise". Neither are terribly good movies but at least 1492 has the look of an epic. Tom Selleck has no business playing the Spanish king. He's basically Magnum, P.I. with a jewel bedazzled coat. It's laughable. By comparison, Marlon Brando is nowhere near as bad. Georges Corraface is functional but he isn't the biggest name. There are a couple of familiar faces like Zeta-Jones and Benicio Del Toro. There is limitation to the intensity. This is not quite good enough.
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed