The Couch Potato Report – May 3rd, 2005
This week The Couch Potato Report features treasure. Good or bad treasure, depending on you.
Let me say this right off the bat, NATIONAL TREASURE is an unoriginal, clich√à filled movie.
But it is still worth seeing, as the filmmakers seem to know that they were making an unoriginal, clich√à filled movie.
Nicolas Cage stars in NATIONAL TREASURE as Benjamin Gates. He is just the latest of a long line of Gates men who have spent most of their lives searching for a treasure that they believe was hidden by America’s founding fathers.
The main thing this youngest Gates has going for him is that he possesses the ability to unravel the encrypted clues set before him.
Which is why this movie was made about him, and not one of his relatives.
Since NATIONAL TREASURE is an action film from producer Jerry Bruckheimer – the man who gave us ARMAGEDDON, BAD BOYS and KING ARTHUR – everything in the picture blows up big and loud. To quote Big Jim McBob and Billy Sol Hurok from SCTV:
“Everything blows up real good!”
The explosions are great, but there are just so many coincidences piled up upon coincidences in NATIONAL TREASURE that it gets hard to believe after a while.
As I mentioned, Benjamin Gates can unravel the encrypted clues set before him, but the filmmakers want us to believe that in the 229 years since the clues were left, no one would even accidentally stumble across them?!?
So, in order to enjoy NATIONAL TREASURE, you will have to check your brain, and the ability to rationalize at the door.
If you do that, you will find NATIONAL TREASURE to be a pretty good cinematic roller-coaster ride.
It will take you from the Arctic Circle to the burial tombs of Trinity Church in New York City, and it might even have you wondering if there is anything written on the back of the Canadian Constitution, or even the British North America Act.
NATIONAL TREASURE is an action movie with no gratuitous sex, profanity, or excessive violence. Yes, it is a unoriginal, clich√à filled movie, but it has enough fun in it to recommend.
Plus, everything blows up real good!
The running time of NATIONAL TREASURE is two hours and eleven minutes, and I watched the movie in two hours and eleven minutes.
The running time of the film version of ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER’S THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is two hours and twenty-three minutes. Yet, it took me four hours and seventeen minutes to watch it.
That is because I found the movie to be so uninteresting that I kept pausing it to do other things. I made supper, called my Mom on the phone, spoke with a friend in Montreal, cleaned my apartment…I did anything and everything I could think of to avoid having to sit and watch ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER’S THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.
But, after the aforementioned four hours and seventeen minutes, I finished watching the movie.
Now, even though I found the movie uninteresting, I must admit that the songs were great, the sets beautiful and the acting was great. I just had no interest in the movie.
I guess that is because I look at Andrew Lloyd Webber’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA as a play, a play that should be seen on a stage.
That said, for almost the entire decade that I was living in Toronto the play was on stage right down the street from my house, and I never went once.
So since it was on stage for a decade, and only in theaters for a few weeks, I will always consider it a stage play.
Yet no matter what I consider it, there are millions of people around the world who have seen, and loved THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.
ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER’S THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA tells the tale of a masked, mysterious figure who falls in love with a female singer he is tutoring. Unfortunately for the Phantom, she is in love with another man and, in the end, she has to choose between them.
Will she choose beauty or the beast?
Emmy Rossum from MYSTIC RIVER is also wonderful in the movie, but even with her, the beautiful sets and songs, the movie version of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA just couldn’t keep me interested.
It isn’t that I don’t like musicals, because I do. I just didn’t like this musical.
Now if you have seen the play on stage and you would like to have a version of it to watch whenever you’d like, then this release is perfect for you.
As for me, well I did get to speak with my Mom and my friend in Montreal, and my apartment is a bit cleaner, so I guess I partially have ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER’S THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA to thank for that.
Our final new release this week is Disney’s POCAHONTAS – THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION DVD.
When the movie first came out in 1995 I remember being disappointed by it. At the time Disney was on a very successful roll with their releases of THE LITTLE MERMAID, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, ALADDIN and THE LION KING, and there was no reason to think that POCAHONTAS would be any different then those classic films.
Yet it was different, and it remains different ten years later. It isn’t as cute as those others and it deals with some reasonably serious adult issues.
POCAHONTAS is a fictionalized chronicle of the arrival of English settlers in Virginia. The explorers have come to the New World in search of gold and they promptly begin changing the landscape and preparing to kill the land’s inhabitants.
A young woman named Pocahontas observes the newcomers and a battle arises as a result of the romance that develops between her and one of the explorers.
In this new 10TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION DVD POCAHONTAS has been fully restored and it now also includes the song “If I Never Knew You,” and never-before-seen animation seamlessly integrated into the original film.
POCAHONTAS isn’t the best animated film that Disney has ever released, in fact it isn’t even in the same ballpark as THE LITTLE MERMAID, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, ALADDIN or THE LION KING, but it remains a fun-filled adventure your whole family can enjoy.
And sometimes that is enough.
The POCAHONTAS – 10TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION, ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER’S THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and NATIONAL TREASURE are all available now on video and DVD.
COMING UP IN THE NEXT COUCH POTATO REPORT
I will tell you about ENTOURAGE – THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON. ENTOURAGE is a TV show that follows a young and rising Hollywood star and his three childhood companions-turned-hangers-on.
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF PETER SELLERS also first debuted on TV. Geoffrey Rush plays Sellers in this biography and he does an incredible job as one of the cinema’s great chameleons.
Another great cinematic chameleon is Bill Murray. Unfortunately even a great performance from Murray can’t save THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU. That said, I will still recommend it.
Next week will also see me recommend IN GOOD COMPANY. Topher Grace from THAT 70’S SHOW is a young college whiz kid who manages workers twice his age, including the great Dennis Quaid. Scarlett Johansson – Bill Murray’s co-star in his superb picture LOST IN TRANSLATION also stars.
I’m Dan Reynish and I will have more on Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, ENTOURAGE, THE LIFE AND DEATH OF PETER SELLERS, THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU, IN GOOD COMPANY, and some other releases in seven days.
For now, that’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.
Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here next week on The Couch!
The Couch Potato Report – May 3rd, 2005