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Films Set in Central America

Movies set and filmed in Central America's countries


When it comes to movie scenery potential, Central America is overflowing with gorgeous locations. It's no surprise a number of films have taken advantage of the region's picturesque jungles and beaches as backdrops. Here are a few of the more noteworthy films set (and filmed) in Central America.

1. Jurassic Park (1993)

Set in Costa Rica
The famous dinosaur film takes place on an island called Isla Nublar, set off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Isla Nublar is fictitious, but it was inspired by the very real and remote Isla del Coco. In the film, a billionaire hires a team of scientists to clone dinosaurs for a high-concept amusement park. There aren't any dinosaurs in Costa Rica (nor on Isla del Coco), but Costa Rica's real wildlife is equally fantastic – just a bit smaller, on average. Jurassic Park's sequels, The Lost World and Jurassic Park III, are set on another fictional Costa Rican island called Isla Soma.

2. Predator (1987)

Set in Guatemala
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Predator follows an elite special forces team seeking to save a group of hostages held by guerillas in the jungles of Central America. Which would be tough enough, but the team is being hunted by an ultra technologically advanced alien: the Predator, of course. Fortunately, no travelers have encountered any predatory aliens in the Guatemala jungles. (…As far as I know.)

3. The Tailor of Panama (2001)

Set in Panama (obviously)
Set during the 1999 handover of the Panama Canal from the United States to the Panamanian government, The Tailor of Panama stars Pierce Brosnan as a British Spy who coerces an elite tailor (Geoffrey Rush) into providing him with political information. The film was shot on location in Panama City, Gamboa, and Lake Gatun.

4. Across the Pacific (1942)

Set in Panama
Despite the film's title, Across the Pacific doesn't take place on the Pacific. The film was originally intended to portray the attempt to avert a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor – which actually occurred as the script was bring written. The location of the attack was amended to Panama, but the title remained. The movie stars Humphrey Bogart and was directed by John Huston, who was called to military duty while it was still being filmed.

5. Mega Shark Versus Crocosaurus (2010)

Set in Panama
In which the Panama Canal is destroyed by the prehistoric beasts in the film's title. (Not based on actual events.)

6. Apocalypto (2006)

Set in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula
While Mel Gibson's Apocalypto takes place in Mexico, it was filmed in Guatemala's El Peten region as well, and is surely the most high-profile film to feature the ancient Mayan civilization in recent years. While the film was generally well-received by critics, it was also met with a good deal of controversy in its portrayal of the Maya (covered in detail on Wikipedia), particularly the way it included human sacrifice -- which was more of an Aztec custom.

7. The Mosquito Coast (1986)

Set in Belize
Starring Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren and River Phoenix, The Mosquito Coast follows a family who travels to Central America from the United States, seeking a simpler life in the Belizean forest. However, paradise takes a dark turn as the father grows increasingly hostile, a la Lord of the Flies. Apparently Jack Nicholson was offered Harrison Ford's role, but he turned it down because he couldn't watch LA Lakers games from Belize. Probably not a problem nowadays, but this was the 1980s.

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