June 24, 2004

Movie Review: Around the World in 80 Days

One word can describe this mish-mash of high concept, adventure, and comedy: disappointing. I know the reviews weren't so good, and the opening weekend box office wasn't so hot, but like any self-respecting film enthusiast, I had to see for myself.

The story finds Jackie Chan as a thief pretending to be a French/Chinese valet to English inventor Phineas Fogg (Steve Coogan) as he attempts to circumnavigate the globe in 80 days or less. Of course, this leads to a succession of misbegotten adventures and comic interludes with people from various other countries, played, in most cases, by another Hollywood star in a cameo appearance. That was pretty much the only enjoyable aspect of the movie, wondering who else might show up, but if you have to sink to Rob Schneider cameos, I think you have bigger problems.

The movie does have a nice whimsical feel to it, but it has no depth. It has that nice, light, good for the whole family vibe to it, but there is no heart. The film is suitable for the whole family, there is no bad language, or nudity, the violence is either comical, or Jackie's brand of martial arts mayhem.

The characters cycle between boring and annoying, and I never really buy any of them in their roles. Chan is the best of the lot, a lot can be forgiven because he has great charisma and likability, good comic timing, and wonderful expressions. The special effects aren't. I can accept a lot in terms of bad effects, but when a film has such a large budget as this one did, the ability to ignore them is greatly reduced. With a budget reportedly over $110 million, the effects should not look this shabby. It just looks like layers pasted onto each other without any effort to blend them seamlessly.

Director Frank Coraci doesn't seem to have grasped this film, his previous efforts were enjoyable Adam Sandler vehicles, The Waterboy and The Wedding Singer. Hopefully next time he will play more to his strengths.

My favorite segment is the one that takes place in China featuring a cameo of another recognizable martial arts star as lengendary Chinese hero Wong Fei-Hung. I also liked seeing Karen Mok in, I believe, her first English language film. She is excellently evil as General Fang, leader of the Black Scorpions, the group that is in pursuit of Chan.

In closing, I would have to say your best bet is to wait for video if you are interested in this movie. It is a sadly flat affair and Chan's weakest effort in a few years, excepting The Medallion of course.
Not recommended.


Post a Comment