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March 11, 2002 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-03-11

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Ann Arbor Film Festival
The 40th year of the venera-
ble festival continues
tonight. 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
$7, or $12 for two shows.
michigandaily.com /arts A

ARTS

MONDAY
MARCH 11, 2002

'Time' lacks heart
of original novel

Cube, Epps all about
the terrible movies

By Andy TaylorFab.
Daily Film Editor
The most recent film adaptation of H.G. Wells'
1895 sci-fi classic "The Time Machine" is a
mindless rehashing of the original novel.

While the book
used the tale of time
travel and a horrify-
ing future as a cau-
tionary tale about the
dangers of industrial-
ization and a parody
of class division,
director Simon Wells
(H.G.'s great-grand-
son) boils this com-
plex tale down to a

THE TIME
MACHINE

At Showcase and
Quality 16
Wamer Bros.

Alexander has vowed to,
travel back in time to save
her. After his first attempt
to save her fails and she is
killed again, he decides to
go to the future to find out
why he cannot change the
past.
After conversing with a
hologram named Vox .
(Orlando Jones) in the New {
York Public Library in
2030 and witnessing a dis-
aster brought on by over-
colonization of the moon a Mara asks Alexander tot
few years later, Alexander
is accidentally hurtled over 800,000 years into the
future, to a world where the human race has split
into two species: the Eloi, an idyllic, brown-
skinned, pseudo-Native American people who live
on finely crafted cliff-side dwellings and the Mor-
locks, a vicious subterranean race that hunts the
Eloi.
The representations of these people disregard
the more subtle, political connotations that the
book contains: the childlike, decadent Eloi (the
leisure class), and the underground, proletarian
Morlocks have been replaced by an appealing and
intelligent (if naive) people and dread-locked
killer apes who can jump 20 feet in the air.
Alexander immediately meets Mara (Samantha
Mumba), an Eloi woman who happens to speak
perfect English (Apparently, this dead language
has been handed down over 8,000 centuries using
fragments of New York street signs). After she is
kidnapped by the Morlocks, Alexander follows
her, eventually discovering the Morlock lair,
which looks like a Snake Mountain/Castle
Grayskull hybrid. There he meets the Ober-Mor-
lock, a chalk-faced telepath played by Jeremy
Irons, and Alexander must then fight to save
Mara and the Eloi.
With most bad action movies, you could
trim 20 or 30 minutes and improve the
movie significantly. However, "The Time
Machine," at 96 minutes, hurries through the
main part of the movie, hastily moving through
the film's cooler moments in what seems like
a rush to get to the end. This is exacerbated
by the painfully long beginning of the film, in
which Alexander's relationship with his girl-
friend is documented. And like Tim Burton's
aforementioned "Apes," the entire part of the film

By Todd Weiser
Daily Arts Writer
"All About the Benjamins" accomplish-
es something that many thought impossi-
ble; the picture, written by and starring Ice
Cube and co-starring Mike Epps, actually
makes one yearn for a viewing of "Next
Friday." That film, also starring Cube and
Epps, was a shameful sequel compared to
its Chris Tucker-powered laugh riot prede-
cessor "Friday," but it actually surprised
many with enough amusing jokes about
pot and the nouveau riche for an enjoyable
time. Also, much of its humor stemmed
from the awkward delivery of Mike Epps,

ple really ugly scars detailing his face.
Bucum is driven to stop Williamson
because his love for money makes those
diamonds very appealing. Wright, who
was once captured by a couple of
Williamson's goons, thinks "scarface" has
his wallet, which happens to hold a $60
million winning lottery ticket. Director
Kevin Bray must have had an easy time
answering that ever popular question
asked by all actors, "what is my motiva-
tion?" The answer for everyone in "Ben-
jamins" is money.
"Benjamins" actually begins with a
sequence involving Bucum's detaining of
a criminal played by '80s semi-star Antho-

Courtesy or warner Bros.
take her back in time to before this movie was made.
dealing with the future plays like one big cli-
max,with very little rising action.
Part of this problem could be due to the fact
that directorial control was handed mid-produc-
tion from Simon Wells (whose main credits
include "The Prince of Egypt" and "An American
Tail: Fievel Goes West") to Gore Verbinski, who
was responsible for "The Mexican."
There are some breathtaking action sequences
and visual effects, such as the ultra-time-lapse
sequences in which Alexander watches skyscrapers
constructed, canyons eroding and glaciers ravaging
the landscape. Additionally, the conceptual art used
for the time machine itself is imaginative in its
retro-futuristic look - sort of a combination
between Jules Verne and Terry Gilliam's "Brazil."
(On a technical note, as brilliant as Alexander is,
he neglects to make the simple addition a seat-belt
or any type of harness to the time machine, which
would have prevented the entire future incident.)
Unfortunately, the casting of the film and the
pitiful screenplay leave the visuals as the only
bright point in the film. Jeremy Irons apparently
didn't learn his lesson from his unfortuante part in
the "Dungeons and Dragons" debacle in his
acceptance of the role of the Iber-Morlock.
Guy Pearce is just too good for this film, and it
shows, for he tries in vain to bring serious and rea-
sonable emotions, such as those he displayed in
"Memento" or "L.A. Confidential," into a film that
has no soul and a character that has no depth. He
plays a character who professes to be a genius yet
can't figure out time paradoxes that Marty McFly
could decipher. He should have taken a cue from
Irons, for at least the formerly great British actor
knows when to play it over-the-top and when to
abandon all subtlety and cinematic dignity.

new comedian on the block
and Tucker replacement.
With that in mind, the
re-teaming of the Cube and
Epps odd couple was
expected and seen as some-
thing to look forward to for
better comedy to come.
However, even with a new
script by Cube and obvious
improvisation from Epps,

ALL ABOUT THE
BENJAMINS
At Showcase and
Quality 16
New Line

ny Michael Hall. During
the capture, things pre-
dictably get out of control,
and Bucum must put a
stun gun to Hall's groin.
Film critics everywhere
have probably dreamed of
doing injury to Anthony
Michael Hall for all the
hours of torture he has put
them through, most espe-
Johnny Be Good," so this

"Benjamins" falls flat on its good-
humored face. It must be possible for
jokes about Christopher Reeves' handicap
or dead white women to be funny, but
"Benjamins" leaves the laughs at home.
The only sound echoing after the majority
of these jokes is silence.
Ice Cube is Bucum Jackson, a Miami
bounty hunter, who is sick of two things:
his beloved local NBA team losing (we
Pistons fans feel his pain) and doing all
the hard work catching wanted convicts
but not getting many "benjamins" in
return. Bucum's latest task is to arrest
Reggie Wright (Epps), but Wright flees,
and it is during one of their chases that the
two get in the middle of a $20 million dia-
mond heist. Bucum,
reluctantly, and
Wright, excited, must
become temporary
partners to help nail
a man named
Williamson, who is
behind it all.
In a perfect exam-
ple of the film cliches
"Benjamins" grasps
on to for dear life in
telling its story, not
only is Williamson
(Tommy Flanagan,
"Gladiator") foreign,
but he also has a cou- It's Friday, you Ai'

cially in'

sequence should be pleasurable in at least
a vicarious manner. Yet, like the rest of the
movie, the visuals are ugly, the action is
confusing, the dialogue is annoying and
the scene serves no purpose in the greater
scheme of the film. Opening action
sequences are meant to quickly entertain
and create an energetic tone for the rest of
the movie (see any James Bond film). "All
About the Benjamins" immediately alien-
ates its viewers and establishes the fact
that the film about to be viewed will pull
no punches in trying to make sure one has
a good time at the theater. Sadly, it also
sets up that this good time will be had by
none.

Irons takes on his most Skeletor-like role ever.

Clever cast, plot keep 'Embassy'
from stumbling into cliches

Courtesy of New Line Cinema
n't got no job, and you guys aren't funny.

,av "7> .

By Jennifer Fogel
Daily Arts Writer
For those who have seen the pre-
views, FOX's new midseason drame-
dy "The American Embassy," which
premieres tonight at 9 p.m., looks like
"Ally McBeal" in London. Let's set

door neighbor Gary, it becomes
apparent that Liv is supposed to rep-
resent Emma's youthful dreams and
timid demeanor in an uncontrollable
situation. Both Dewey and Liv in
their own ways help Emma to sift
through her mess of a life and realize
that it's time she stands on her own

the record straight right here ... it's two feet.
not. Boasting a far
greater intellect than its S
predecessor, "The
A m erican E m bassy" AMAN
revels in a more mellow
single girl neuroticism THE AMERICAN
than Ally's incessant EMBASSY
daydreams. Mondays at 9 .m.
In a rehashing of an a 9
old plot, Emma Brody Fox
(Arija Bareikis, who
was last seen in "Deuce Bigalow: characters.1
Male Gigolo," but don't hold that such a spec
against her) finds out that her fiance can't help 1
cheated on her, turning her entire life crasies. WI
upside down. In order to figure things of characte
out, Emma quits law school and high- to be innov
tails it to London to become a vice
consul at the U.S. Embassy. Almost
immediately, she gets off on the
wrong foot. Not only does she have a
tryst in the airplane lavatory with a
"Joe Kool" C.I.A. spy and lose her
luggage, she is nearly killed by
oncoming traffic while crossing the
street. (She forgot they drive on the..
opposite side of the road). The
Embassy itself is more of a play-
ground than political backdrop, intro-
ducing everyone by their zodiac sign
(Emma's a Cancer) and features
numerous betting pools on any occa-
sion. But the fun is contrasted with a
myriad of international faux pas that
leave an impact on Emma and seek to
examine events in world politics.
Emma's first assignment is to rea-
son with Dewey (David Eigenberg,
"Sex and the City"), an American cit-
izen who tries to get the Embassy to
send hin back to the States for free
by protesting in the lobby in his birth-
day suit. Emma also becomes
embroiled in a custody case involving
a 12-year-old Liv who was kidnapped ,

Even though the
beginning plot strings
are mostly a convoluted
attempt at distinguish-
ing the show from the
other "single girl trying
to find her place in the
world" programs, "The
American Embassy"
manages to be appeal-
ing because of its great
Bareikis plays Emma with
ctacular presence that you
but love her little idiosyn-
hile the cast could be full
r cutouts, each one proves
ative and three dimension,

something that most shows lack.
There are only two real problems with
the show. The first is the ridiculous
love interests that suddenly fall in
love with Emma the minute they lay
eyes on her. There is already the
beginning of love triangles with three
"dashing" men: Doug (David Cubbit,
"Ali") the philandering spy and two
British lords that also happen to be
brothers. The second problem is the
"Felicity"-esque use of the "Dear
Sally." The use of voice over in the
guise of e-mails to Emma's sister
Jules is stupid even though necessary
in order to convey personal reflection.
"The American Embassy" may
resemble things we've already seen
on television, but it is more explo-
sive and character-driven than the
others. It is also timely, as its six-
week run will feature an ongoing
plot about terrorism, including a
bombing of the Embassy. Move over
Ally, it's time for some real royal
treatment live from London.

Food for Thought
Manipulating Opinion
During the Vietnam War, the
father of Yung Krall, author
of "A Thousand Tears Falling,"
was North Vietnam's ambas-
sador to Moscow. Yung was
a spy for both the CIA and
FBI. Yung told me that the anti-
war movement, schools, and
even churches were heavily
infiltrated by North Vietnam's
agents, whose job it was to
feed them misinformation.
Gary Lillie & Assoc., Realtors
www.garylillie.com

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