|KEX'S AMAZING WORLD|
|Nine times out of ten, in the arts as in life, there is actually no truth to be discovered; there is only an error to be exposed. -- H.L. Menken|
Last Week: Miss Congeniality:
Plans to see a new release fell apart do to busy schedule and logistics once again this week so it was off to the video store again. We'll catch up on the newer releases as the summer goes along, but it may take a few weeks.
This week's rental review is Miss Congeniality, aka Sandra Bullock's self-indulgent fit of ego masturbation. All you really need to know about this film is that the most credible, restrained performance was given by William Shatner in a supporting role that was barely more than a cameo. You have to know that when he can't even sink a film by chewing the scenery out of existance in a limited opportunity, some seriously bad performances are being turned in.
In order to take this film even a little bit seriously, you have to suspend disbelief at least to the point where there could be reasonable debate as to whether or not black and white are distinct colors. Its not that the movie doesn't have some funny moments, but even a low grade moron can ask at least one appropriate enough question to sink the entire basis of this film's plot. I've come to the conclusion that every major studio should be required to keep at least one low grade moron on the payroll, if for no other reason than to raise the average corporate I.Q.
The first problem with this movie is the simple fact that the audience has to accept Sandra Bullock in the role of ugly-duckling, career driven law-enforcement agent. Yeah, and Peewee Herman is a body builder. I guess Bullock could pass as a pretty formidable being in a world inhabited by leading men of the stature of Benjamin Bratt, who almost makes Peewee look like a body builder, along with washed up Hollywood icons like Shatner, Candace Bergen and Michael Caine; but the real world is not like that.
Bullock has some problems with her bosses due to her rather wreckless style. In essense, not only do we have to picture Bullock as ugly duckling, ass kicking bitch, but she is a female Dirty Harry as well. The premise of the story is that some unidentified threat has been made against the Miss United States beauty pagent, and the F.B.I is called in to attempt to foil the plot.
For some reason, the F.B.I. concludes that the only way to prevent a terrorist action against the pagent is to have an agent inside the proceedings, in essence as a contestant in the pagent itself. I personally can't figure out what that would accomplish unless we were to seriously suspect that one of the contestants was involved, but the movie was careful not to try to elaborate on the logic behind the matter.
Naturally there is a problem as to how to get an agent in the pagent, since all the contestants are chosen by individual states. The agency discovers that Miss New Jersey has recently appeared in a porno flick, and she is black-mailed into withdrawing. Now usually, beauty contests have a "first runner up" who is on standby to assume the title in case an actual winner is unable to fulfill her duties; read gets pregnant, busted on drugs or sent up for prostitution. But apparently the winner in New Jersey is the sole survivor of a WWF style Battle Royal or something similar, because the agency is able to place Bullock into the pagent without complication.
The fact that Bullock's character is unattractive (yeah right) and rather graceless is a significant problem, but out of several thousand female agents working for the F.B.I across America, apparently all the young, attractive and charasmatic ones were out on maternity leave. Thus Bullock is reluctantly drafted to pose as Miss New Jersey.
She is coached in beauty and grace by Michael Caine, who stumbles through the movie with the crediblity of an aging actor looking to kick his agent's ass for getting him involved in a train wreck of this nature. That is pretty much the case as well. Caine is able to transform Bullock into a woman with a measure of beauty and grace, which provides sort of an editorial remark as to the degree of contempt the makers of this film have for the women who actually compete in pagents.
The most bizzare plot turn of the movie is the fact that the terrorist is actually the pagent's director, as played by Candace Bergen. One assumes that she must be having trouble finding work since Murphy Brown. It seems Bergen's character is being fired as pagent director, so she unleashes the plot to kill the winner. Curiously, she apparently blew the whistle on herself in order to get the F.B.I. to investigate as part of her cover story, instead of simply pulling off the crime. Yet another case of movie villians demonstrating incredible lack of intelligence.
Beauty pagents have been taking a real beating in Hollywood circles the last couple of years. This film was less than complementary, and it comes on the heels of such scathing pagent oriented films as Drop Dead Gorgeous, and Beautiful, among others. I'd grant that beauty contests are probably archaic and possibly marginally degrading, but they are also a dead horse for all intents and purposes. Too bad Hollywood types can't focus their energies on some really worthy targets, and hire a few writers capable of stringing together a credible plot.
Last Week: Down With Love:
This is the price I paid for seeing X-Men 2 a couple of weeks ago. This is the price I pay for having to do weekly movie reviews. I hope you are all happy. This is the price I pay for patently refusing to buy into crap like The Matrix license.
Actually, that one I'm willing to pay. I made it quite clear on this page for at least the last several weeks that there was no way, no how that I was going to review Matrix 2. I got a lot of email asking me why. That fact and George W. Bush simply prove the overwhelming power of idiots in large numbers.
Look folks, The Matrix was quite simply the most overrated, offensive and consistantly annoying piece of filmmaking I have ever seen. There was no way I was going to sit through a sequel that was the most overhyped production since P.T. Barnum discovered the power of gullibility. For all I know, or will ever know, Matrix 2 may end up being the next Citizen Kane, but the guess here, and I'm willing to risk it, is that it will turn out to be every bit as overrated, violent, annoying and offensive as the original.
So that left me to review the only other major studio release available this week. Clearly tossing this one out into the ether in opposition to a Matrix flick was the equivalent of burying it in a cave in Siberia. Perhaps that was a more deserving fate, at least as I saw it.
This movie sort of reminded me of Renee Zellweger's last major motion picture. I think a few of you will remember it. I'm straining a bit here....hmmm, the name of some city....Osh Kosh? No, Commerce City? No...oh yeah. Chicago. I think it won some kind of award. Maybe a couple of them. Anyway, there were a lot of things about this movie that reminded me of that flick.
In the first place, Renee Zelwegger STILL has no boobs. That doesn't surprise me though. I'll clue you into a revelation I had about this movie in a moment. The other thing about this movie that reminded me of Chicago was that it was effectively a musical, although there wasn't any singing until the closing credits. That was the only thing about this movie that made me happy.
By the time we got around to having to endure a production number sung by Ewan McGregor and Renee over the closing credits, the pain of having to sit through this production had so thoroughly numbed my senses that I barely flinched. I may break my own arm from patting myself on the back here, but I think enduring that without weeks of hospitalization was pretty impressive on my part.
This movie was really kind of weird. The players all sort of danced their way through everything in time to the background music. So instead of Zellweger having to do 3 things she does badly, singing, dancing AND acting, she only had to act and dance. Not that it was a good deal less painful.
Zellweger portrays Barbara Novak, a writer who pens the world first women's liberation book in 1961. The book pretty much pisses the entire male population of the world off, so a famed New York magazine writer with the retarded character name of Catcher Block (McGregor) tries to discredit her by making her fall in love with him.
DANGER! WARNING! SERIOUS PLOT SPOILER FOLLOWS! NOW! I'M NOT KIDDING!
It turns out that Barbara Novak is really just some love sick girl from Maine that Catcher dumped a couple of years earlier, because he is a notorious lady's man. But she cooks up this whole unlikely plot to catch him. But along the way, she realizes that she really IS Barbara Novak, and what she is doing is more important that landing Catcher.
So she proceeds to advise women how to get ahead, and they effectively take over by realizing that chocolate is just as good as love. Or something like that. By the time we got to the ending, my head was pounding so badly that I was having a hard time even reading my watch every 30 seconds, let alone trying to sort out the message of the movie.
Then along came the closing credits, in which the producers attempted a merciful form of euthanasia by providing us with the Zellweger-McGregor production number. Oh yeah, the most significant revelation I had about this film was the fact that I think it was actually made BEFORE Chicago, but somehow Zellweger's agent and attornies managed to keep it on the shelf. But now that she is an Oscar nominee, she is a fair target, and they simply couldn't keep it buried.
I had a couple of other revelations too. First, its not hard to figure out why David Hyde Pierce's career is buried in the wasteland of televison. After seeing him on the silver screen, I hope Frazier never gets canceled. I've never had any difficulty missing it. Second, of all the really bad Ed Sullivan impersonations I've ever seen, the one done by Will Jordan in this movie retires the trophy as the worst EVER. Finally, Tony Randall is still alive. I know because he appears in this movie. They say that one of the only parts of your body that never stops growing is your ears. If that is true, Randall is 186 years old.
Last Week: Troy:
Outrage! Nine bucks for movie tickets? No, not for two us us. EACH! Yes, I love the movies, but this is just getting ridiculous. Hell, you can buy a good share of the DVD's out there for not much more than nine bucks and watch them anytime you want.
Yes, I realize that it is getting more and more expensive to make movies these days, but its not like Hollywood has any business pleading poverty. Quite apart from the intial theater release, which invariably recoups the intial investment in even wildly expensive flicks like this week's offering, Troy, Hollywood is getting royalties off of second run theaters, DVD rentals, DVD sales, pay per view contracts, cable contracts and network showings.
Generally speaking, even if a movie tanks pretty seriously at the box office initially, the followup revenues will generally put it in the black. So why the devil are we spending 9 bucks a shot to see a movie? It just doesn't make any sense. That doesn't even include the vulgar kind of extortion they are pulling off at the concession stand.
Mind you, I don't mind all that much for a big, expensive movie that is reasonably worth sitting through. But chances are I'm going to have to pay exactly the same 9 bucks for some piece of crap film I have to endure after the summer blockbuster season ends next September; some dismal little waste of celluloid filmed in some producer's basement.
I probably have to trod a little lightly with this week's film. The last time I reviewed a sword and sandals epic, I panned it pretty hard. I'm not sure whatever became of that movie. Hmmm, I think it was called Gladiator, or something like that. It never made much of a mark in Hollywood circles. It might show up on TV someday on the late late late late late show sometime.
Any of you who ever accomplished some level of reasonable education in your lives probably were introduced at some point to Homer's classic epic poem, The Iliad. I know; it doesn't translate into english as a poem. In fact, despite some magnificently exciting plot developments, most of the book is an unbearably tedious blabfest documenting in excruciatingly boring detail the personal motivations of about 6000 characters. Almost all of them have alphabet soup names that pale even the confusing mess in the Lord of the Rings series.
Fortunately, Wolfgang Peterson's film, which claims to be "inspired" by The Iliad is probably more accurately inspired by the Cliff Notes to The Iliad. A lot of it is still an almost intolerable festival of gab, but at least its visually appealing enough to justify the 150 minute running time.
You probably all know the basic story. Prince Paris (Orlando Bloom) and Prince Hector (Eric Bana) of Troy visit King Menelaus (Brendon Gleason) of Sparta to make peace. But Paris, who is a bit of a womanizer, woos and wins the heart of Menelaus' beautiful young wife Helen (Diane Kruger) and spirits her back to Troy with him. Hector is furious when he finds out, but loves his brother too much to feed him to the sharks on the voyage home, then take Helen back and avoid a war. So they return to Troy to face the inevitable consequences.
Menelaus is naturally pissed, so he takes a road trip down to Athens, where his brother Agamemnon (Brian Cox) sits on the throne. The two plot to send a vast army to sack Troy, which is Greece's principle rival. Menelaus just wants Helen back, but Agamenon has been hot to kick Troy's collective ass for a long time, so he drools at the prospect.
Agamemon knows that he needs Greece's greatest warrior Achilles (Brad Pitt) to win the war, but the problem is, Achilles thinks old Aggy is a complete jerk, and doesn't want to fight for him. So Aggy sends Odysseus (Sean Bean) to recruit Achilles to the cause. From there, 1000 ships ferry the 50,000 Greeks across the sea to battle about 20,000 Trojans. The site of those thousand ships on the screen is one impressive site.
Achilles and his band of men almost singlehandedly take the Trojan beach. But once he has fought that successful battle, he gets pissed at King Aggy, and more or less refuses to fight on. That leads to a humiliating defeat for the Greeks in their attempt to take Troy. At this point, the Trojan king, Priam (Peter O'Toole) orders his son, the mighty Hector to lead his forces to drive the dispirited Greeks into the sea. But in the course of the battle, Hector mistakenly slays Achilles cousin, and Achilles wants revenge.
He rides to the gates of Troy and calls Hector out, and ends up slicing Hector to ribbons. Eric Bana didn't even get to Hulk out during the battle. This improves the moral of the Greeks, but they still can't figure out how to breach the walls of Troy.
Then Odysseus gets an idea to build this huge horse, which the Trojans believe to be a gift to Poseidon from the fleeing Greeks. They wheel it into the city, not realizing that numerous Greek warriors are hidden inside. Come nightfall, the warriors leap out of the horse, admit the rest of the army waiting quietly outside the city walls into Troy, and they slaughter the citizens and burn mighty Troy to the ground. The End.
Well, almost. Poor Odysseus takes a tortured and circuitous route home, but that is a different and much better epic poem by Homer. And during the course of this movie, Brad Pitt spends about half of the time naked, which is probably going to get women into the theater to see it in herds. The only thing I've never figured out about this whole story is that according to Homer, all of the action took place over several years. But the basic story, and this film, seems to occur over about 2 weeks. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Still, I've just summarized The Iliad in about 8 paragraphs. Cliff's Notes, eat your heart out.
Last Week: A Kex Rental Review: Girl With A Pearl Earring:
Watching a guy doing a painting isn't exactly the strongest idea for a full length motion picture I've ever heard. Especially if the artist in question happens to be Johannes Vermeer. I'm guessing a few of you have probably had an art class or two in your life, so maybe you have actually run across the name of Vermeer during the course of your journey through space on this dusty rock.
I know the name of Vermeer, but try as I might, I really can't conjure up any mental images of paintings he did. Toss out the name Da Vinci and a couple come to mind. Ditto Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Picasso, or hell, even Bob Ross. But Vermeer? Frankly I draw a blank. So the question that comes to mind in the first place is, who really thought this project was a good idea?
I guess the first guilty party would have to be Tracy Chevalier, who wrote the novel on which this film is based. I'm not sure how your life can be so devoid of interesting things to write about that you could actually get worked up enough to write a novel about an obscure painting by an artist with all the name recognition of the guy who shovels dog poo at the White House. Yet somehow or another, Ms. Chevalier managed to stay awake behind her keyboard long enough to finish the project.
Then, curiously, somebody published it. I'm guessing it was a vanity press operation. The real kicker here is that somebody apparently read it, then decided, "Wow! This would make a great movie!" I'm guessing it was greenlighted by the same people who gave the go ahead on Big Top Peewee. Then again, at least we didn't have to watch Paul Reubens paint a picture.
The film stars Scarlett Johansson as Greit, a poor girl in Denmark in 1665, who is sent to become a servant in the Vermeer household. We learn two things early on in this movie. First of all, it really sucked to be poor in Denmark in 1665. The second thing we learn is that if you were talented and reasonably famous and well to do in Denmark in 1665, life also sucked. You could apparently end up being poor at the blink of an eye.
If you happened to be rich and powerful in Denmark in 1665, life still pretty much sucked. It would appear that you ended up lonely and single, and desperately horny for 18 year-old servant girls. But since all the moors were so puritan, and even in those days 18 year-old girls found 55 year-old guys revolting, it was just a desperately lonely life.
After Greit moves into the Vermeer household, Johannes (Colin Firth) takes an interest in her, because he apparently sees something beautiful in her soul. Or maybe like his horny old benefactor, he just wants to get into her skirt. Its kind of hard to blame him, not because Greit is anything to look at. But compared to his whiny, fragile, wimpy wife, she has to be a vision of intense female fire.
Somehow or another, Vermeer's wife has managed to bear him about 60 kids, who mostly spend their time getting in Greit's way and making it difficult for her to discharge her household duties. Especially difficult is one little red-headed winch, who will grow up to have a difficult and tragic life. By the time she is about 30, she will have lived with the pain of watching houses drop out of the sky and land on her sisters. For some reason or another, she spends most of her time trying to get Greit fired.
But Vermeer wants to keep Greit around, because he likes watching her mix his paint, or something. That was apparently the 17th century equivalent of topless mud wrestling. Greit also kind of represents the great challenge in the life of every artist. No, I don't mean the constant desire to bag 18 year-old virgins. I am referring to the split between doing work that is popular and will sell and bring in money to feed your wimpy wife and 60 kids, or following the call of your soul and producing the kind of work you want to do.
Vermeer balances the two by working on two paintings at once: One for his benefactor, and one of Greit wearing one of his wife's earrings. Wow, there was some deep insight in that great artistic soul: The vision of an 18 year-old girl wearing an earring. No wonder we are all so well aquainted with the work of Vermeer.
Meanwhile, if you watch some of the bonus features on this DVD, you end up learning that Chevalier's novel is a bunch of horse droppings anyway. The entire work is fictional. So not only are we watching a tedious film about a guy doing a painting, we are watching a MADE UP FREAKING MOVIE ABOUT A GUY DOING A PAINTING! Damn, The Bob Ross Story is starting to sound like Oscar winning material compared to this.
Previously: Batman Begins:
...But it sure seemed like this damned movie would never end.
I'm a Batman fan. As a kid, I enjoyed the D.C. Comics Batman series, and the later manifestations of the Dark Knight comics were an improvement a more refined reader could appreciate. Even the various television and filmed versions have had at least some degree of appeal to the fans of the caped cruisader.
The Batman television series of the 60's was what it was. Pure camp to be sure, but its over the top celebration of superherodom still appeals to a new generation via T.V. Land reruns. I have a feeling that 50 years from now, people are still going to watch it and enjoy its wink at the audience and laugh along with them appeal just as much as we did 40 years ago, and still do today.
The series of four movies back in the 90's got progressively worse with each new installment, but the first two remain treasures simply by the force of Tim Burton's vision. Watching those two films is a little like being trapped inside of someone else's nightmare, drifting through too uneasy to want to stay, but too fascinated to really let go and leave.
I didn't like Michael Keaton all that much as Batman until I saw how much worse the two actors that followed him were. Somehow Keaton didn't seem right for the part originally, yet as compared to Val Kilmer and George Clooney, his nervous and almost manic approach to the role at least provided the impression of a guy who was just mentally screwed up enough to become a vigilante.
The big question we always had in the 90's films was just how billionaire Bruce Wayne managed to pull all that equipment together. That is one issue this movie attempts to address, but its so meticulous in its development of the Batman personna, and how he assembled his gadetry that the film plods along at a pace that makes Russian novels look like cliffhanger serials by comparison.
The writing of Batman Begins left a lot to be desired as well. Okay, there were no lines quite as awful as the "I just need to know if we are going to try to love each other." embarassment Vicky Vale hacked out in Batman 1. But at least we can attribute that one to a writers strike that broke out during filming. This film has no such excuses for literary horrors like, "To conquer fear, you must become fear." I've seen more profound statements baked into Ginger Snaps.
The big question on everyone's lips is, just how good of a Batman is Christian Bale? To be real honest, it seemed like he did all of his preparation for this role at the Keanau Reeves school of thespianism. Wooden performances of this magnitude really do grow on trees. Perhaps Bale is a lot more capable than his showing here would indicate, and with the kind of dialog he had to work with, I think there is some hope for improvement. But apart from the screen appearances of Morgan Freidman and Michael Caine, this film had all the charm of a public execution.
Perhaps the single biggest casting blunder was Katie Holmes as an assistant District Attorney and Bruce Wayne's lukewarm love interest. Katie's attentions these days seem to be mostly invested in her relationship with Tom Cruise, and I'll bet by Christmas, she doesn't even get a card. She drifted through this movie like someone just barely off camera was feeding her lines.
Liam Neeson starts out in his all too familiar mentor role, only to disappear from the movie for what seemed like about a week and a half. He ultimately reemerges as the primary villian. Here is precisely where the film took its worst and most irrational turn, as whatever degree of logic and internal consistancy it had built through the first three quarters collapsed completely when the filmmakers decided that they had to develop a major antagonistic line and simply pulled a totally irrational climax out of their collective asses.
As has become fashion in Hollywood, the action scenes are so chaotic and confused that no one can tell exactly what is going on, or who is getting their tailsides kicked by whom. We just always see Batman still standing when the camera stops rattling. I guess this film technique relieves anyone of the burden of actually having to coreograph a realistic fight scene, or any of the actors from actually having to carry one out competently. Maybe there is a method to the madness, but it is still frustrating to have to watch.
I also have to caution parents strongly. This film is very dark and harsh, and all of the campy humor that we have come to associate with any of the previous Batman efforts is no where in evidence. Worse still, it takes so long for Batman to actually do anything that most children will already be pondering various plots centering on destruction of the theater and their siblings long before the film grabs their attention.
And the new Batmobile just sucks.
Last Week: The Ant Bully/ Barnyard:
This week I'm treating you to two reviews for the price of one. The nice thing about K.A.W. is that you always get your money's worth. Actually, it was a busy weekend last week, so we saw The Ant Bully early in the week, and ordinarily I would have posted a review Monday night. But somehow, I just never got around to it. Therefore, this week's review is sort of a rain-out double header.
In their own way, both of these films depict the double edged sword that represents state of the art animation. There was a time not so long ago when animated films were dreadfully expensive to make and extremely time consuming. As a consequence, studios simply wouldn't touch them unless they had a great script in hand and the best animation team available. If you had the right elements, you could guarantee a big enough box office to make back at least a little of the enormous investment.
But now days, computer animation and armies of available CGI trained specialists looking for work team to make animated fare a bargain basement proposition. As a general rule box-office wise, if you build it, they will come. Even a pretty crappy animated piece (Barnyard,) is virtually guaranteed to find a large audience. So no matter how crappy your script and production qualities are, go ahead and make the thing, even if will end up being as popular as booking Mel Gibson at a Bar Mitzvah.
It doesn't help much if the people who are making your film pull up in a van adorning the name "Larry, Curly and Moe Productions." Perhaps I'm over estimating the team that brought us Barnyard. This film could have been the animated cognate to Gone With the Wind, and it would still deserve to get barbequed here at K.A.W. (pun fully intended).
Audiences with even sub par I.Q.'s are going to be so disoriented in the first 5 seconds of this film that the rest is just immaterial, regardless of what happens. The very first time you see a cow, complete with prominent udders speaking in a decidely male, barritone voice, reality is just up for grabs. I'm left to assume that the people who made this movie 1. Had never been outside the city limites of LaLa land, 2. weren't aware that cows are all female, 3. that there are male bovines called "bulls, and they do not have udders, 4. The people who made this film didn't have anyone available to ask about the matter and 5. Nobody bothered to look it up on the internet. That last one is pretty astonishing, even for a bunch of CGI nerds that never had a date in high school.
To be quite honest, I can't even tell you much else about the rest of this film. There were a couple of funny moments, and what might have been considered an inspired bit about cows getting even with a group of adolescents over a cow tipping incident. Unfortunately, I saw that bit in previews so many times that it didn't matter much in the mooooooovie. But just to prove that I did see it, the coyotes were kind of creepy.
I'd like to tell you that The Ant Bully was a better, but it wasn't. This is a movie about a whiny little kid that gets picked on a lot by bullys, so he takes it out on the residents of an ant hill in all the ways most young boys torture ants. The resident ant wizard conjures up a potion to turn the boy into an ant, and give him a taste of what life is like for them.
There is only one problem with this entire set up. The little boy isn't very likable, and nobody likes ants. Most people hate ants. We generally get over frying them with magnifying glasses before we hit double digits age wise, but that doesn't mean we grow fond of them. We still step on them whenever we get the chance.
They invade our condo sometimes in the early summer, which is an enormous annoyance. Worse still, our cat won't eat them. If they flew, she'd go after them like Hugh Hefner to the latest blonde. Unfortunately, we have to find ways to keep them out that are not harmful to cats. Vinegar and cinnamon are the weapons of choice.
Anyway, 2006 has been a year in which animated movies have exploded into the conscious of movie goers. Alas, both The Ant Bully and Barnyard survived the blast.
Also Last Week: The Water Horse:
Just what the world needed: A movie that gives people who spend their time talking to mailboxes more reason to believe in weird stuff. In this instance, we are going to reload the imaginations of folks who believe that a creature that became extinct 60 million years ago and lived in warm, shallow salt-water seas is still alive in a deep, cold, fresh-water lake that formed about 10,000 years ago. Yeah, that could happen.
okay, let's cut a little slack here. The Loch Ness Monster as portrayed in this film isn't a known extinct animal, but rather at least called a "water horse" sometimes also called a "kelpie" although not in this film, because the people who made it probably figured that most of the folks who saw it wouldn't know what a "kelpie" is. As far as I am aware, no real original description is available. But whenever anyone saw something weird in a lake, it was just assumed to be a kelpie.
I'm going to step aside here for a moment to offer a few important notes about this film. If you have seen the abbreviated television ads, or even the lengthier theatrical trailers, you might walk into it expecting some sort of light family film, in the nature of those old Disney boy and his pet flicks. It isn't. In fact, this movie has some surprisingly dark elements.
A young boy who is pretty psychologically screwed up because his father is away at fighting Hitler discovers a strange rock while wandering along the shores of Loch Ness. Somehow he finds enough time away from feeling sorry for himself to do whatever is necessary to find out that the rock is an egg, and hatch it. Out comes a weird looking creature that looks a little like a pleisiosaur.
Things get complicated very quickly. First, an army divionsion arrives at the boy's home, evidently intent on preventing the German army from invading Scotland via Loch Ness. I'm not sure whether or not forces were actually stationed along the shores of the Loch during the war or not. The guess is that they weren't.
Then the boy's mother hires a new handyman, and the creature is growing rather rapidly. The boy wants to keep it his pet a secret, but it becomes increasingly difficult. There are troops running around, his mother doesn't want him to have pets, and the handyman wants to clean out the workshed where he is hiding the young water horse. Eventually, he shares his secret with the handyman, who suggests that they turn it loose in the Loch. The boy is reluctant, but the creature becomes too large and unruly to hide.
The remainder of the movie becomes a series of conflicts. The boy wants to protect the creature from the army, who believe that the mysterious presense in the Loch is German submarines. The commander of the army regiment and the new handyman battle for the affections of the boy's mother. the filmmaker can't decide between telling the story and showing us magnificent scenery from around Loch Ness. Yes, things become a little confused at times.
This film has received criticism from some critics, who object to the differences between the spirit of this film in the trailers, and the reality of the project. Personally, while it was a different film than I expected, I still rather enjoyed it. The CGI effects were spectacular, and the movie was loaded with enough spectacular scenery that it would have almost been worth watching even without seeing the monster.
Still, I can't help but feeling that this movie will breed a whole new round of sightings of the Loch Ness Monster, Champ, Bigfoot, UFO's, The Jersey Devil, kangaroos in Illinois and whatnot. Heck, somebody might even think they spot a smart person in the White House. Yep, Hollywood can create all sorts of lunacy.
I'll recommend this film, with a caution. There are scenes that may be disturbing, possibly even frightening to younger children. Still, its a nice story, worthy of a look. Over the next several months, there isn't going to be a lot of quality in the theaters, and good family entertainment is likely to be the most profound casualty. I'd suggest a trip to see this one before it's gone.
Copyright 1999-2005, 2006