Imagine Me & You – 1 Star (Terrible)
Imagine a bride walking down the aisle on her wedding day, getting ready to marry the man she has had an intimate relationship with for years, looking at another woman at the ceremony, and starting an awakening that would lead her to question her own feelings, eventually falling in love with the other woman, ultimately destroying her marriage, but living happily ever after with her new lesbian partner.
Now, maybe, you begin to understand why this premise does not work. It is sold in the film as perfectly natural and normal, with everyone making out fine in the end (no pun intended). This film does not work because it is not psychologically sound.
The offering is British made, of course, which accounts for the poor sound effects of the movie, and the annoying lack of proper diction and enunciation by the actors involved. It would be hard for me to believe that Imagine Me & You advances the cause and understanding of lesbian issues.
In Good Company – 1 Star (Terrible)
An ad salesman gets demoted after a corporate buyout, and his new boss, young enough to be his son, falls for his daughter on the rebound from his divorce. You want to like this movie, but the scriptwriter and director will not let you; this movie ends without an ending, and becomes worthless in the process. In Good Company is beyond disappointing, it is a pathetic waste of time.
It Runs in the Family – 1 Star (Terrible)
A Michael Douglas produced movie with Kirk Douglas, his dad, and Cameron Douglas, his son. If the title of this film is the key to its presentation, then what runs in this family is a lot of incredibly dysfunctional people who are led virtually nowhere. There are not enough adjectives to describe how poor this presentation is so I am not even going to try.
Sum it up in two thoughts: 1) Am I a better person for having seen this film? No. Absolutely not, and I felt like I should have been. It was not even entertaining as a supposed “comedy.” This was so far from comedy it was very bad drama. 2) Michael Douglas had an opportunity to make a substantial film with meaning about what counts in life, and he failed miserably. When one examines the body of Michael Douglas’ work as an actor, I am hard put to find a film of substance; usually the theme is sex, warped values and bordering on revulsion. What should I have expected?
Just Like Heaven – 1 Star (Terrible)
“Just Like Heaven” is cute but not substantive. This movie effort takes off on the concept of Ghost in the reverse; instead of a dead person who can see the living but cannot be seen by the living, here we have a dead person who can also see the living, but the living can also see the dead person.
It just does not work like Ghost. Ghost is 1,000 times better than this effort. Ghost works because it is a drama and courts reality. Just Like Heaven does not work because it is a romantic comedy and has nothing to do with reality (just a minor point).
There are several more reasons why Ghost works, and Just Like Heaven does not (too many to mention in detail here). This effort entertains but lacks substance, and hence believability.
The best part of this movie is Reese Witherspoon (who would go on to win an Oscar for her lead role in the Johnny Cash story, “Walk the Line”). I would not see Just Like Heaven again, even with a monetary incentive.
Laws of Attraction – 1 Star (Terrible)
Light-hearted, fun romantic comedy about two divorce attorneys who fight in court over cases and then end up together in marriage. Both Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore make this an easy film to watch, despite its lack of substance. No depth here, but it is an easy film to watch as there is no nudity, no filthy language, no violence and no sex scenes (in other words, almost a miracle of moviemaking given it is not a Disney production).
Kingdom of Heaven – 1 Star (Terrible)
Unfortunately for the “Kingdom of Heaven”, what started out as an ambitious epic film about a little known time in history, became an almost disaster at its release and was only average at best. There is enough blame to spread around.
First, there is a reason why the immortal “Gone with the Wind”, which involved a turbulent love affair in the American south during the Civil War and Reconstruction, took almost 4 hours to see. You apparently cannot make a quality, classic film about the Civil War in less time. Ken Burns’ acclaimed documentary film “The Civil War” consisted of 9 episodes and took 11 hours to view.
Second, there may be a market for a film in the Middle Ages about the Christian Crusades, a series of military expeditions by Europeans to recover the Holy Land from the Muslims in the 11th, 12th and 13th Centuries. That market, regrettably, is very small compared to an epic about the Civil War, World War I or World War II.
This proved to be a critical mistake in judgment. It was nearly impossible for Scott to tell the Kingdom of Heaven story in 2 hours, and when the movie received really mixed reviews and proved to be a financial disappointment in the United States, the error was clearly noticeable.
Fourth, not only was this film to be an epic story, its production cost was enormous. Most of the filming was in Morocco, and Mohammad VI, King of Morocco, provided 1,500 of his military personnel with accompanying equipment to help in the filming.
In addition, there were apparently 15,000 handmade costumes for the film that also required helmets, boots, gloves, chainmail, belts and scabbards. The flag budget for the film was $250,000. There were 7,500 weapons, 3,000 shields and 20,000 arrows used in the film. In one scene alone, there were 143 extras, 60 military personnel, 125 horses and 60 camels.
A massive replica of Jerusalem was constructed in the Sahara Desert, containing 28,000 square meters of wall that required 6,000 tons of plaster. The front set was 1,200 feet long and the walls were 56 feet tall. Good grief.
Fifth, writer William Monahan’s first draft of the script was 186 pages. Executive producer Lisa Ellzey thought Fox would never approve the script because of its length, so she cut it to only 20 pages before sending it to Fox.
Sixth, Orlando Bloom was not ready to play the leading role as Balian of Ibelin, and his performance did not reflect the kind of command and presence necessary to pull it off.
Seventh, I had great difficulty as a moviegoer following the story as its presentation required much more help in context, or from a narrator, to understand what was happening when and why it was important.
Eighth, the sound in the film was terrible. There were times when it was impossible to understand the dialog and, without this essential element, there is no way the film would be rated good by my standards. Sound is too basic of a need to succeed and, when it goes unnoticed because it is well done, it is not an issue.
Ninth, this whole project was sad from start to finish. What could have become a good film could not overcome the obstacles along the way. Two bright spots in the film were the performances of Liam Neeson as Godfrey de Ibelin and Ghassan Massoud as Saladin, the great Muslim leader.
In his quest to be noble, Liam Neeson was able to deliver this dialog as Godfrey de Ibelin: “Be without fear in the face of our enemies. Be brave and upright that God may love thee. Speak the truth always, even if it leads to your death. Safeguard the helpless and do no wrong. That is your oath.” (Spoken to his son, Balian, when making him a knight.)
History records that Saladin and his Muslim troops did recapture Jerusalem after defeating the King of Jerusalem at the Battle of Hattin near the Lake of Galilee. When Saladin’s soldiers enter the City of Jerusalem, they were not allowed to kill civilians, rob people, or damage the city.
In many ways, the Muslims come out looking better than the Christians in Kingdom of Heaven, and historically, they were.