Throwback Thursday: The Phantom (1996)

Superheroes come in all shapes and sizes. They also exist outside of the big IPs.

In the 1996 film, The Phantom, the title character (Billy Zane) is the latest line of superheros. Four hundred years ago, his ancestor witnessed his father’s murder on their ship. When he finally returns to dry land, he swears that he will become a version of Robin Hood. This legacy is passed down from father son until we get to what was then the present day. The current Phantom’s latest is nemesis Xander Drax (Treat Williams). There is also the love interest in the form of his ex, Diana Palmer (Kristy Swanson) and the wannabe love interest/baddie Sala (Catherine Zeta-Jones).

Like The Shadow (1994), it is a live action version of an old time radio show. As narratives go, it is rather generic. While the action is decent, there is nothing that makes it stand out in the genre.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.


Throwback Thursday: The Legend of Zorro (2005)

In our capitalist, materialist based society, it is easy to forget those who are not as fortunate as we are. Sometimes, it falls upon a fictional hero to remind us of this fact.

Zorro has been a popular character for over a century. His story and his Robin Hood view of the world has inspired more than a few adaptations over the years.

Back in 1998, The Mask of Zorro was a box office hit. Six years later, the film’s sequel, The Legend of Zorro hit theaters. The narrative starts ten years after the previous film ended. Don Alejandro De La Vega (i.e. Zorro) (Antonio Banderas) and his wife Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) are happily married with a young son.

But work and his alter ego is starting to pull Alejandro away from home. Feeling dissatisfied with the status of her marriage, Elena leaves her husband. She finds companionship in the arms of Count Armand (Rufus Sewell). Alejandro is more than jealous of his wife’s new partner. He begins to suspect that Armand is part of a scheme to prevent California from becoming a part of the United States.

Compared to its predecessor, the reviews for this film are not good. In this case, I disagree with the reviewers. The Legend of Zorro is not the most intellectual film, but that’s ok. It is one of those movies that is just fun to watch and the perfect vehicle to step away from reality for a couple of hours.

I loved that Elena’s role in this film is expanded. More than just the pretty love interest, she is as badass as her husband. I also loved the casting of Rufus Sewell. He is one of those actors who has perfected the art of playing a villain.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Throwback Thursday-Horror Double Feature-The Haunting (1999) and The Fog (2005)

The basic gist of a horror is to scare the audience. Unfortunately, some horror movies fail at this basic task.

In the 1999 movie, The Haunting, Dr. David Marrow (Liam Neeson) and Theo (Catherine Zeta-Jones) are part of a team whose job it is investigate the rumors of a haunted house through a sleep study. What starts out as a sleep study becomes more than they bargained for.

Six years later in 2005, The Fog hit theaters. On a small island off the coast of Oregon, a fog full of spirits has enveloped the island. Starring Tom Welling and Maggie Grace, the residents must learn of the island’s dark past and find a way to stop the fog and the spirits that dwell within it.

The problem with both of these movies is that neither holds up to the premise or the chills promised by the trailers.

Do I recommend them? Not really.

Flashback Friday- Intolerable Cruelty (2003)

Love is a subject that has been the topic of an endless number of stories. So is the lack of love.

In the 2003 Intolerable Cruelty, Miles (George Clooney) had made a name for himself as a cynical Beverly Hills divorce lawyer. His latest client is Marylin (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who is eager to divorce her cheating husband. After proving that her husband has cheated on her, Marylin expects to receive a fat divorce settlement. Instead, she gets nothing and quickly re-marries. But there is still the issue of the attraction to Miles, who is also fighting his attraction to Marylin.

Sometimes a movie suffers when they have a great cast, but the narrative is not all there. That is unfortunately the case with Intolerable Cruelty.
It tries to replicate the sophisticated romantic comedies of the past (i.e. Bringing Up Baby), but it misses the mark.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

Flashback Friday- Catherine Zeta Jones Double Feature- Entrapment (1999) & America’s Sweetheart (2001)

I think it is fair to state that no actor wants to be pigeonholed into a certain character type or genre. Since her introduction to Hollywood in the late 1990’s, Catherine Zeta-Jones has proven herself to be a capable actress playing a variety of roles.

One of her earliest movies was Entrapment (1999). Robert MacDougal (Sean Connery) is an art thief with a target on his back. Virginia Baker (Catherine Zeta Jones) is an insurance agent who needs to take Robert into custody for the theft of a valuable piece of art. But that won’t be so easy.

Posing as a wannabe thief, Virginia put’s herself in Robert’s cross hairs. But before they go on the first job together, Robert puts Virginia through her paces. Things become complicated when Robert and Virginia are attracted, but mistrustful of each other. Will Virginia be able to complete her task or will she fail?

This movie is not bad. The heist element certain ups the ante in terms of keeping the audience on the edge of their toes. The only thing that I find myself not liking is the same old tired May/December romance.

Two years later in 2001, she jumped into the romantic comedy genre with America’s Sweetheart’s. Gwen Harrison (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Eddie Thomas (John Cusack) were the toast of Hollywood at one time. Now Gwen and Eddie, together on and off screen, are getting a divorce. Lee Phillips (Billy Crystal) is trying to keep the press at bay while the director, Hector Gorgonzolas (Hank Azaria) refuses to release the print of the film. ¬†While this is happening, Gwen’s sister/assistant Kiki (Julia Roberts) has changed her appearance and is attracting the attention because of the change.

In terms of a romantic comedy, this movie is not bad. It also casts a light on the absurdity of Hollywood and the cracks that are beneath the surface.

I recommend both.



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